Crumbs! That was some banquet!

While musing my way daily through Matthew’s Gospel I noticed two editorial headings on adjoining pages of my New Living Translation: ‘Jesus Feeds Five Thousand’ (Matthew 14:13-21) and ‘Jesus Feeds Four Thousand’ (Matthew 15:32-39), and in between I was reminded of ‘The Faith of a Gentile Woman’ that I had been meditating about only the day before (Matthew 15:21-28). This Gentile mother in ‘the north . . . region of Tyre and Sidon’ had been met by Jesus’ silent response to her ‘pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!”.’[Matthew had started his Gospel by tracing King David as the ancestor of the Messiah, who would ‘save his people from their sins.’ See Matthew 1:6 and 21.] The non-Jewish mother then explained the reason for her distress: ‘”For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely”.’

When ‘his disciples’ noticed that ‘Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word’ they ‘urged him to send her away’ because, they said, ‘”She is bothering us with all her begging”.’ It was then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep – the people of Israel'”.’  [At that time he was in a Gentile region once ruled by wretched Queen Jezebel] However, the distraught mother did not slink off like a dog with its tail between its rear legs. She actually ‘came and worshipped him,’ before ‘pleading again, “Lord, help me”.’  

The Saviour then seemed to increase his refusal of her pleas still further: “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” It must be emphasised that our Lord was not here referring to feral dogs that roamed the streets, but the text could be rendered ‘pet dogs’. She read his language clearly and replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the [pet] dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table”.’

Matthew had edited this incident to be published between his Master’s two lavish miracles of multiplying the meager contents of picnic boxes on each of these occasions to feed vast crowds, when enough carefully gathered left-overs could fill twelve lunch baskets in the first instance and seven huge hampers after his next banquet! That desperate mother evidently grasped just such a concept of divine generosity that she referred to her request as merely crumbs from a feast that domestic pets would lick up! No wonder Jesus responded: “Dear woman . . . your faith is great. Your request is granted”.’ ‘And her daughter was instantly healed.’

Come on now, let’s get our eyes fixed on our heavenly Saviour’s ability and on his own desire to undo the ways and woes of Satanic interference and, instead, let’s feast our faith on the reality of his heart, even when the answer seems to be delayed or even refused.

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