Humble Hero


Christ Breaks Down Racial Barriers

This chapter is based on Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30.

After the encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus left Capernaum and crossed Galilee to the hill country on the borders of Phoenicia. Looking westward, He could see the ancient cities of Tyre and Sidon with their heathen temples. Beyond was the Mediterranean, over which the messengers of the gospel were to carry its joyful news to the centers of the world’s empire. The work before Him now was to prepare His disciples for their mission. HH 182.1

“Behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.’” The people of this district were idol worshipers, despised and hated by the Jews. The woman who now came to Jesus was a heathen, and so she was excluded from the advantages the Jews daily enjoyed. HH 182.2

News of Christ’s work had reached this region. This woman had heard of the Prophet who, it was reported, healed all kinds of diseases. Hope sprang up in her heart. Inspired by a mother’s love, she determined to present her daughter’s case to Him. He must heal her child. At times she was tempted to think, What can this Jewish Teacher do for me? But the word had come, He heals all kinds of diseases, whether those who come for help are rich or poor. HH 182.3

Christ knew that this woman was longing to see Him, and He placed Himself in her path. By ministering to her sorrow, He could give a living example of the lesson He intended to teach. This was why He had brought His disciples to this region. He wanted them to see the ignorance existing in cities and villages close to Israel. The people to whom God had given the truth made no effort to help others in darkness. The partition wall that Jewish pride had built shut even the disciples from sympathy with the heathen world. Jesus would break these barriers down. HH 182.4

Christ received this woman, representing a despised race, with the cold and heartless attitude with which the Jews would treat such a case. But the woman did not lose faith. As He passed by, as if not hearing her, she followed, continuing her appeals. Annoyed, the disciples asked Jesus to send her away. They saw that their Master treated her with indifference, and they supposed that the prejudice of the Jews against the Canaanites was pleasing to Him. HH 182.5

But it was a pitying Savior who answered, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Although this answer appeared to be in keeping with Jewish prejudice, it was an implied rebuke to the disciples. They understood this later as reminding them of what He had often told them—that He came to the world to save all who would accept Him. HH 183.1

The woman urged her case more earnestly, bowing at Christ’s feet and crying, “Lord, help me!” Jesus, still apparently rejecting her appeals, answered, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” This was virtually saying that it was not right to lavish on strangers and aliens from Israel the blessings given to the favored people of God. This answer would have completely discouraged a less-earnest seeker. But the woman saw that her opportunity had come. HH 183.2

Behind Jesus’ apparent refusal, she saw a compassion He could not hide. “True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Even dogs are not left unfed! So, while God had given many blessings to Israel, was there not also a blessing for her? She was looked on as a dog, so didn’t she have at least a dog’s claim to a crumb from His bounty? If she could just have the privilege of a dog, she was willing to be regarded as a dog, and she immediately acknowledged Jesus as the Redeemer, Someone who was able to do all that she asked from Him. HH 183.3