Does Jesus Love Some People More Than Others?

 

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I’ve been thinking about the Canaanite woman lately. Her story is found in Matthew 15, verses 22-28  and Mark 7:24-30.

 

Jesus passed over the border to the region of Tyre and Sidon to escape the Pharisees’ ire. He entered a house, hoping no one would notice Him there, but His fame had spread throughout the land inhabited by people the Jews considered heathen.

A woman, whose daughter suffered from demon possession, interrupted His respite. She fell at His feet, begging Him to heal her daughter.

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This prompted Jesus’ startling response. “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

For many years, this passage bothered me. I couldn’t understand why He would turn away a desperate woman by being so rude. This is the compassionate Jesus of Nazereth we’re talking about, right?

But after studying the life of Jesus, I’ve learned something: Everything He did was intentional. Every word He said had meaning.

Most commentaries agree that Jesus was comparing the Jews, God’s chosen people, to Gentiles—He came to bless the whole world, but He was going to do it through the Jews, like God promised Abraham.

But does He consider some of the world’s people dogs and some His children?

Given the context of Acts and the rest of the apostolic epistles, I would say no. Jesus asked His closest twelve friends to make disciples of the whole world. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they spent the rest of their lives, sometimes at great cost, spreading the Gospel.

So, if He wasn’t calling her a dog, then what was He doing? I think our best clue comes in what she says next, and His answer.

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“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

She didn’t argue whether she should be up at the table with the children, she merely persisted in her urgent pursuit of bread. Even just crumbs could make her daughter well again.

In other words, “Please! Just a tiny morsel…that’s all I need.”

And Jesus’ response gives away His motives. ““Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.”

It wasn’t about her worth or her standing as a Gentile at all. Jesus wanted to demonstrate how much faith this woman had.

 

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When the woman arrived home, she found her daughter healed and whole again.

 

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking our requests to God are granted based on how good we are, or how much He loves us. We don’t see the big picture, or how those requests culminate in light of eternity. God grants or denies our requests based on factors much bigger than we can see. We don’t often consider what’s happening outside our temporal sphere here and now, but God knows what’s taking place in the spiritual, eternal realm.

When God looks at people of the earth, He sees us all the same: hungry beggars.

The only thing that differentiates us is that some know where to find the bread.

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Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). 

Please continue the conversation in the comments. Did you ever struggle with the passages about the Canaanite woman? Do you hesitate to get your daily bread, thinking you’re not worthy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 comments

  1. Without context this passage is very difficult to understand. But taking everything into consideration it brings great hope. Some days in can only muster the courage to ask for crumbs. God knows my heart and what that request really means.

  2. Yes! I too have struggled with this passage. Thank you for shedding some light, Lyneta. A friend and I were just discussing the danger of thinking of ourselves as not having enough faith to receive a healing or too unworthy to receive something we are asking from God. The problem with this mentality is it puts the focus on us, our prayers, our faith. God sees us all as hungry beggars in need of HIM, the Bread of Life. Such a confirmation that our prayer focus should be on the Bread, not the beggar 🙂 As always, wonderful post!

    1. Maresa, very aptly put! “Focus on the Bread, not the beggar.” Well put. That’s what true worship means.

  3. Lyneta, another great post, and a lot to “chew” on. I too have wondered and troubled over this passage. The more I read God’s word, the more I discover how everything ties together, context is so important. Context and intent. Thank you.

    1. Patty, your pun made me smile 🙂 Yes, context is crucial! I am constantly learning about the cultural setting in which the Bible was written. So many gems to dig up when you understand more about how the people lived and thought.

  4. I, too, had trouble with this story until I was told in a Bible-study class that the word used here for ‘dog’ meant puppy, not a wild dog or a mongrel. So, even though Jesus’ words seem like a rebuke, there was actually a tenderness to what he said. She evidently picked up on that because she was comfortable continuing the conversation.

    1. That’s interesting, Sherry. I hadn’t heard it like that before. I’m just always amazed about how Jesus treated people, whether rich, poor, outsider or in-crowd. He truly demonstrated that God isn’t a respecter of persons.

  5. You show good insight into a hard passage, Lyneta. Plus I believe Jesus knew the end before the beginning and was setting the table for the woman to experience and for others to witness a demonstration of great faith. It’s always good to look closely at situations where Jesus used the term, “great faith.” Thanks for your post.

    1. Thank you, Connie! Your comment gave me the idea to do a word study on “great faith.” It will be interesting to see what new insights God brings with it.

  6. I had struggled with this passage, too. But when I studied it last year, I saw that what the woman did to get Jesus’ attention–she praised Him, worshiped Him. Still He said no. But then she showed her humility even more–calling herself a “little dog” and asking for crumbs– and then Jesus praised her faith. This story shows just how much God loves everyone. He didn’t turn away in the end, but gave her what she wanted and needed. He doesn’t turn away our faith either. Thank you for your post, Lyneta!

    1. I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one to struggle with it. It’s really a beautiful story. I want to grow my faith as big as the Canaanite woman.

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