Among the stories about Jesus is this story recorded in Mark 7.
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
“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 the dogs.”
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
The story is scandalous on several fronts. First, Jesus is spending time with a non-Jew. Second, the non-Jew is a woman. Anyone familiar with the story of Jesus is not surprised by how Jesus overturned the religious and social norms of his time and community by his frequent association with women. Every day a Jewish man living in the first century prayed and thanked God he was born neither a dog nor a woman. Jesus gave women a status unknown in his day.
There is a third scandalous point: this non-Jewish woman has the audacity to ask if the miracles Jesus is performing are for her daughter. What do Jews have to do with non-Jews? Jesus’ response appears to be prejudiced: “ “First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” Every Jewish person in the first century knew exactly what Jesus was saying: the children are the Jews and the dogs are the non-Jews or Gentiles. Of course, God’s chosen people are the Jews and they should get first chance to experience the goodness of God.
The woman’s response is classic: “How about it, Jesus, throw me a crumb. After all, even dogs get to eat the crumbs the children drop.”
Jesus, not out of shame, but out of his own gracious character, extends healing and relief to the woman’s daughter.
There are many “Greek women” walking the world today who think they are outside of God’s goodness. You may be one of them. Here is the good news: the “crumb” of God’s grace has the power to change your life. You need only ask.
Ronald Friesen © 2015