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12. Aralık 2006: 21:11 #24065klausAnahtar yönetici
I have to admit, there are certain parts of the Bible I wish weren’t there. No, I’m not trying to do away with any of the Ten Commandments, but there are a couple of stories that just—in my wonderfully all-knowing opinion—just shouldn’t be in there. The text for a sermon I heard recently definitely counts as one of those.
The sermon was on the Canaanite woman whom Jesus calls a dog. Yeah, a dog. Ouch.
It’s found in Matthew 15:21-28. A Canaanite woman has a daughter who is being tormented by a demon, and she has decided that Jesus is the only person who can help. But Jesus initially resists helping the Canaanite woman, saying, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and feed it to the dogs” (15:26).
Now, the Jewish people didn’t think highly of the Canaanites, and they had some good reasons for their opinion. The Canaanites were the idolatrous people who originally inhabited the land that Israel settled—Israel’s Promised Land—and the Jewish people had been strictly warned by God not to intermarry with these people so that the Israelites wouldn’t be led astray by their idol worship.
I still don’t like that Jesus calls her a dog. That doesn’t match my image of God. After all, he’s supposed to love everyone and treat everyone equally. Is this comparison worthy to be made by a loving God?
Well, why not? To understand this story at all, we have to look at its ending. Jesus commends this woman for her faith and heals her daughter. Okay, you might say, but what about the insult here? Well, who’s to say that he meant to insult her for sure? And as for the potential insult, we don’t know his tone, facial expressions, or any non-verbal communication that was happening.
There is also a great juxtaposition of her faith and that of the disciples. The woman knows who Jesus is and what he could do for her daughter, so she comes to him with great faith and great desperation—faith telling her that he can help, desperation making her stick to it until he gave her what she’d come for. The disciples, on the other hand, just want Jesus to make her go away, because she’s bothering them. They still don’t really understand why he’d come, what he was about, and who he was there to touch.
But this woman understands, and she hangs on in spite of the seemingly harsh words that come out of Jesus’ mouth here. Why did he put off helping her? I don’t really know, but he had to have had a reason. He says he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He wasn’t the one to take the message to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people); he assigned that mission to his disciples. Jesus as a human being had a finite capacity in that he couldn’t be everywhere at once. So, the Gentiles weren’t his mission. However, the beginning of this passage of Scripture tells us that he headed for the region of Tyre and Sidon. That was a Gentile region.
Somehow I think Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen when he went to that region, and he knew that he was going to heal that woman’s daughter. Why didn’t he do it the first time she asked? I don’t know. God often seems to say Wait, because it’s not his timing yet. And yet his timing is always perfect. We want God to meet us on our terms. But, if we consider that we can’t see the big picture, that suddenly doesn’t seem like such a good idea. The issue then becomes whether or not we can trust God even if we don’t understand him. And that’s what this passage has led me to ponder. Will I trust God’s Word and his demonstrated character, even if his methods are confusing?
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