We read the story of the Syro-phenician woman in our devotions this morning. She was the one who came to Jesus because her child was possessed with an evil spirit. Jesus was healing all over Israel so she went to him. When she asked for healing for her daughter Jesus said one of the most perplexing lines in His entire career, “First I must help my own family, the Jews. It is not right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” Did Jesus call this Gentile woman a dog?
Not put off for a moment, she replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are given some crumbs from the children’s plates.”
Jesus said, “Good answer! And because you have answered so well, I have healed your daughter.” And when she arrived home, her little girl was lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone. Jesus was impressed by the woman. In Matthew 15:28 Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is thy faith…”
This story reminded me of another Gentile who sought Jesus. He was a centurion, a Roman soldier who was in charge of 100 soldiers. He asked that Jesus heal his servant with a word. Jesus was going to his house, but the centurion had some messengers stop him. He did not want Jesus to trouble himself by making the trip so he told Him just to say the word and he’d know his servant was healed. Jesus marveled at him. Can you imagine Jesus marveling at anything? He was God, yet this Gentile made Him marvel.
The Syro-phenician woman and the Roman centurion are the only two in the Gospel record that are said to have great faith. Of the centurion Jesus said he had not seen such faith in all of Israel (Luke 7:9). I love that the two were Gentiles, that one was a woman and one was a man, and that one was an outcast (called a dog) and one had power over the Jews (a Roman centurion).
Today is the day Jesus went to the cross. He suffered tremendously. He was rejected by God, forsaken. His body was spent. Today the lamb was slain for ALL of us. No longer will anyone have to eat the crumbs under His table. Today ALL can come to His table because of Good Friday. Jesus broke through privilege, culture, gender, all the barriers that might keep us from God. Today God died to make room for us ALL.
At the cross,