May 12

Text: Matthew 15:22-24

And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him, saying, "Send her away, for she is shouting out after us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (NASB)

Christians are so accustomed to Christianity’s universal focus that we forget (1) Jesus’ earthly mission was to Israelites and (2) initially only Israelites and proselytes heard the gospel.  Jesus understood his message would bring a universal blessing (Matthew 8:10-12), but his earthly ministry was Israelite focused.  Israelites were to be the first to hear the gospel (consider Romans 1:16; Acts 3:26; 13:42-47), but it is understood the resurrected Jesus is everyone’s source of salvation (Matthew 28:18-20).

When a non-Israelite woman requested for Jesus to heal her daughter, she placed him in conflict with his God-given mission. 

Abraham’s faith was extraordinary!  In Genesis 12:3 b God promised Abraham “in you all families of the earth shall be blessed,” and renewed that promise in Genesis 26:3, 4.  The promise was made to Isaac (Abraham’s promised child) (Genesis 26:4), and again to Jacob (Genesis 28:14).  The promise was referred to in Acts 3:25 as fulfilled in the resurrected Jesus.  The point: This was a critical divine promise seriously made by God and seriously kept by God.  Jesus’ dilemma was not small!

Israel descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.  The divine plan: Through Abraham (1) produce a nation of faith.  (2) Allow them to teach other nations how to live for God (Isaiah 49:6).  (3) Through Jesus call Israel to repentance.  (4) Make Jesus the Christ through resurrection.

Though ancient Israel was a dismal disappointment to God, God still kept His promise to Abraham.

Note the Canaanite woman knew who Jesus is, and she had faith in him.  Note the difference in Jesus’ dilemma and the 12’s motivation.

Suggestion for reflection: What is your religious motivation?  (Read Romans 12:1-8.)

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