Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 115 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 15 today and our focus is on The First Person To Understand a Parable of Jesus – A Foreign Woman. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Wellington, New Zealand, Victoria, Australia, Bihar, India, Columbus, Ohio, Greensboro, North Carolina, San Francisco, California, Denver, Colorado and Montgomery, Alabama. Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Let’s take the unusual, for this podcast, step of reading our passage first – as we do, pay special attention to Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite/Syro-Phoenician woman.
This Canaanite or Syro-Phoenician woman is one of my heroes in the Bible. I hate that we don’t know her name, but she is an amazing example of persistent faith. At first glance, it appears that Jesus is rude to her, and that is a little off-putting for us, but that’s not what is happening here at all. This woman had at least four strikes against her. First, she was a woman, and women couldn’t approach Jewish rabbis, according to the rules of society at the time. 2nd. She was a Greek/Gentile – this was a religious designation and meant she was a pagan. 3rd, she had a demon possessed daughter, which made her unclean. Finally, she was a Syrophoenician, which according to the Jewish historian Josephus at this time was the worst enemy of the Jews.
Can you see the disciples in this scene? Squirming. Upset. Uncomfortable. Unsure. Some probably had compassion, and some were realizing all of the customs that she violated. And Jesus? He ignores her for a time. And then says – “I was only sent to the lost children of Israel, but she is not dissuaded, and she rushes over to Him and keeps begging probably grabbing a hold of Him. What do we expect Jesus to do here?
We expect Him to grant her request, right – because Jesus is compassion incarnate! Instead, what does He say? ““First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” Now hold on. WOW. What a slap in the face! They didn’t view dogs like we do. “Dogs” is an insult in the Bible.
So why does Jesus do this? I, along with many biblical scholars, see this as a parable. A parable means metaphor or likeness, and Jesus is offering this woman a parable He has given her a hint that this is a parable as this is the only place in all of Scripture (other than the parallel in Mark) where the diminutive form of dog is used. He actually says, “doggie” or “puppy.” In doing that, He reveals that His statement is a challenge and an opportunity.
And here comes one of the most astounding things in all of the Gospels. This pagan woman gets it immediately. She doesn’t get offended by Jesus’ parable, but understands it with depth, and answesr in kind. “Yes Lord, but even the puppies eat the scraps after the children do.” What is she saying? She is saying that she realizes that she might not have a place yet at the table of Jesus, but she also knows that in Him there is more than enough food and power to feed everyone. Without in the least bit asserting her rights she asks for her food from Jesus. This is such a remarkable reflection of the Gospel. The Gospel is not, we are saved by being good. The Gospel is that we are saved because Jesus has plenty and Jesus is good. She’s not saying, Lord give me what I deserve because I have been good. Instead, she is saying, Give me what I DON’T deserve on the basis of your good and plenty, and give it to me NOW! This is the first person recorded in Mark who has understood a parable of Jesus. The disciples haven’t, the religious leaders haven’t. But this woman understands it, humbles herself and demands/begs for the blessing of Jesus! What was Jesus’ response? SUCH AN ANSWER!!
Pastor Tim Keller has some deep thoughts on this encounter:
She looks at him, and she says, “Yes, I am a dog, but even the dog can eat the scraps from under your table.” Jesus says, “Your faith has made you well.” Do you remember what is going on here? Jesus comes to Peter and just says, “Simon, you’re going to deny me.” “No way!” Jesus comes to this Syro-Phoenician woman and says, “You’re a dog,” and she says, “Yes,” because she knows his point.
He’s not saying she’s a dog because she’s a Gentile, even though that’s what he says on the surface. She knows she’s a sinner and she needs his grace. Therefore, she’s willing to say, “Lord, I am a sinner. I am needy. I don’t come to you because I have reached a certain amount of status or pedigree. I come to you simply because of the greatness of my need.” When he sees that humility, when he sees that repentance [He responds!]
Have you ever noticed, by the way, people who worry the Bible is filled with patriarchy? Have you ever noticed the people who worry the Bible makes women look bad? I don’t see it that way. [So often] God uses a woman to make a man look bad, over and over and over again … “Don’t be like Judas. Be like Mary. Don’t be like Peter. Be like the Syro-Phoenician woman.” Jesus is continually raising up spiritual heroes, heroes who understand grace and understand the gospel. So often they are the women. So often they’re the poor. So often they’re the people who are marginal. So often it’s the insiders who don’t get it.
Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/al_happy