24 From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden. 25 For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.
As we come to this passage on Mark, we see a mother with a desperate need. Just like any mother, when it comes to your children/child, you always want to be there for them. When they are sick or going through some circumstance in life, you would want to help your child as much as you can. As we can see from our story, how does this… Syro-Phonician woman, (Canaanite/Gentile) help her daughter with an unclean spirit living inside her? Basically, being possessed by a demon.
She faced a tremendous need and was determined to get to Jesus to receive the help she desperately needed. She was content to receive the crumbs that fell from the Lord’s table.
While our circumstances may be much different today, no doubt we have all faced a great need at some point in our lives. We have been confronted by a situation that was beyond our ability to resolve.
During these situations, we need to come in faith as the woman in our text. When we lack the ability, and are unsure of what to do, Jesus can provide for our need. Jesus possesses great power, and cares for those that are His. He is more than able to provide for you and I. With these thoughts in mind, I want us to examine the challenges this woman faced. Many think, that her problem was only for her daughter. Let us examine…shall we.
This mother from our story, had a request. Jesus departed into the area around Tyre and Sidon, apparently seeking some rest and solitude, V.24. Although Jesus desired to remain hidden, it didn’t take long for word to spread that He was in the area. He is quickly approached by a mother in desperate need.
For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Jesus, and came and fell at His feet. The text doesn’t reveal how long she had been in this desperate situation, but the mother recognized the great need. Clearly… she had no control over this unclean spirit… after all, how could she? She has heard of Jesus, and knew that He alone can help.
Often these spirits were difficult to cast out. While Jesus had no problem with them, the disciples faced difficulty at times with unclean spirits. Following an encounter when they were unable to cast a spirit out of a young boy, they questioned Jesus about the difficulty, and He revealed the solution. Mark 9:29 – And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. We all face situations in our lives that require the Lord’s power and provision. This mother knew in heart, that Jesus was the only one that can help her, & her daughter.
This is an important aspect of faith that is often overlooked and neglected. Some view the Lord as their personal “genie in a bottle.” They assume that He is waiting for them to rub the bottle, so He can appear and meet whatever request they have. While I am thankful for the Lord’s care and provision in our lives, I am also aware of His deity and my need to worship Him. Every prayer, and every request we make of Him, should be approached by a time of worship and adoration!
Now… is where her difficulty lies. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation. We are not given the woman’s name, but she is identified by her race and nationality. She was a Greek. She was not a Jew, but of a Canaanite descent. While the Jews may have tolerated her existence within the city, she would not have been welcomed or wanted among the Synagogues or within their fellowship, she was an outcast to the Jews. The Canaanites had rejected Jehovah in the Old Testament, and continued to live in rebellion and idolatry. She was not welcomed among the Jews because of her identity.
So…if you think about it, how is she going to approach Jesus with her problem, when the Jews would have nothing to do with her? As I thought of her difficulty, I was reminded that each of us were in a similar situation at one point. We were all born into a condemned race through Adam. We were born in sin, separated from God, and without hope. We lived according to the lusts of the flesh, having no desire for the Lord. Apart from Him we were hopeless and alone.
There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.”
So, at one point, you and I, could not approach God either. No different than the mother in our story. But she was desperate, we were desperate. She did not care that she was a Greek woman, she needs help. You and I, we need that same desperate feeling… that same desperate need of Jesus everyday.
Although she was a Canaanite, she came to Jesus in faith, desiring for Jesus to cast the unclean spirit out of her daughter. She needed a miracle and believed that Jesus had the power to provide for her need. If you notice her desperation…she did not just asked Jesus once…
The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
She kept on begging and begging Jesus to heal her daughter…to deliver her daughter. If we are all being honest, I am sure that at one point or another, we too were in a desperate need for Jesus to do the impossible.
This passage is a beautiful picture of grace. One deemed unworthy came before the Lord, passionately seeking His touch. Like this woman, we must be people of faith, willing to continually bring our needs before the Lord. Often, we face situations that require prolonged, persistent prayer. We cannot give up on our loved ones or the different needs we face. We must be willing to continue… seeking the Lord to meet our need.
Initially the mother did not receive the response she would have liked, but she persisted in her petition and faith. Notice if you will…
27 But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”28 And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”
“Let the children be filled first”, Meaning the children of Israel. Although in Gentile territory, Jesus remains His priority towards the children of Israel. On the surface this response seems harsh and somewhat out of character for our Lord. However, as we study Scripture and seek to understand this statement, we discover that Jesus was never harsh with those who came to Him in genuine faith. This was not a statement of rejection, but rather of conviction and revelation. The woman recognized Jesus as a man of great power, being willing to humble herself before Him.
She may have even believed that He was the promised Messiah. It appears that Jesus is seeking to lead her forward in faith, not only recognizing that He was the Christ, but that He was the Savior for all, including her. Clearly Jesus had come to the house of Israel, but He would not reject those of genuine faith. He sought to increase her faith, and for her to embrace Him as Lord. If she was to receive her request, she had to believe.
The second part of His response seems even harsher, “for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” But again, that was never Jesus’ intention. He is seeking to bring her to faith in Him. It would not be right to take the bread of the Gospel and carelessly cast it out to those who had no desire to serve the Lord or embrace Him as the Christ. Salvation is a work of grace through faith. All would not receive Him as the Christ, and He had no desire to carelessly deal with those, much like the Pharisees, who lacked faith and rejected His deity.
Let’s look at her response… “And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”
This desperate mother had come in faith, and she was committed to receiving her petition. As Jesus spoke of giving the children’s bread unto the dogs, (Israel’s salvation) she declared that even the dogs are allowed to have the crumbs that fell from the table. She was desperate with just receiving little crumbs, if she could. She knew the Lord had the ability to meet her need, and she desired to receive even the smallest portion of His grace. Her faith in the Lord realized that even the smallest touch from the Him would be sufficient.
While this woman was a Canaanite, her faith stands as a model for all. She knew the problem she faced was not beyond the Lord’s ability to handle. We need that type of faith today. We must trust the Lord to meet every need we have. Like her, we must recognize His power. He is able to do exceeding, abundantly beyond anything we could ask or think. His power is beyond our ability to comprehend, and even the smallest touch in our lives is more than enough.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Was her request granted by our Lord? After bringing her request to Jesus, and remaining persistent in faith, Jesus provided for her need….
29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.
Her commitment to the Lord by faith compelled Jesus to grant her request. In the same story written in the book of Matthew…
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
A Canaanite woman came with great faith and Jesus granted her request. Her faith was essential, and it brought the result she desired.
It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of faith in our lives. Faith is essential for salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is essential to maintain our fellowship with the Lord. We will never be able to continue in our Christian journey apart from faith. Faith is also essential as we come before the Lord in prayer. As we pray, we must believe that Jesus can and will meet our needs.
This Canaanite woman had come to Jesus in faith, and He did not disappoint her. She returned home with the promise that her daughter would be delivered, and when she got there the unclean spirit had departed from her. Faith brought her to Jesus, faith sustained her through the trial, and faith brought deliverance.
Passages such as these offer great encouragement as we are reminded of the power and ability of our Lord. We all face varied difficulties in life. Maybe you have prayed many prayers of faith and have yet to receive the answer you desired. We must remember that the woman had to remain persistent in the faith. The initial response from Jesus did not promise healing, but she persisted. While Our Lord Jesus, doesn’t always answer in the time or manner we hoped, we too must remain committed to the Lord and depend on Him to meet our need in His time and according to His will. He knows what we need, and He has the ability to provide!
I don’t know what you are facing today, but I am certain that Jesus is aware of your need. If you are struggling in life, desperate for His touch, come to Him in a prayer of faith. Trust Him to meet your need according to His divine will.
If you are unsaved, or unsure of your salvation, there is hope for you in this passage as well. A Canaanite woman came in faith and was received by Christ. He will do the same for you if you will come to Him in repentance and faith. Jesus can save you from sin, can save you from whatever situation you’re in, but you have to believe solely in Him. Only He can do the impossible in your life.
John 6:37-39 (NIV)
37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
Pastor Richard Santos
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