Matthew 15: 21-28
Jesus left Gennesaret and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, "Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." He answered, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed instantly.
In just a few words this gospel lesson speaks volumes about Jesus and the direction of his ministry. Up until this moment Jesus saw himself as being “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Not Samaritans, not Egyptians, not Romans, not Canaanites. We know very little about Canaanites except that they were an ancient race even in Jesus time who lived in the area of the Gaza Strip. They were not considered part of the chosen people so Jesus did not minister to them.
The disciples as they so often do recommend that Jesus send her away. Instead, he has a dialogue with her and he doesn't mince words. He says, 'It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.”
This sounds pretty harsh doesn't it. The Jewish people considered themselves the children of God, the chosen. Everyone else was a dog.
And then, this woman makes a statement that changes Jesus mission from there on. She says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.”
I believe at that moment Jesus the teacher became the student. This poor woman had just taught Jesus a valuable lesson. Jesus opened himself up to what the Canaanite woman was saying. I believe at that moment Jesus realized his mission was not to bring salvation to only the Jews. Jesus, who often referred to himself as the son of man, was to bring salvation to mankind. To Samaritans, Egyptians, Roman,Canaanites, to you and to me.
On that day, because of that woman, Christianity changed course. It became universal.