From Heaven With Love


Chapter 43—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 withdrew from 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 bear its glad tidings to the centers of the world's empire. The work before Him now was to prepare His disciples for their mission. HLv 267.1

“Behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’” RSV. The people of this district were idolaters, despised and hated by the Jews. The woman who now came to Jesus was a heathen, and therefore was excluded from the advantages the Jews daily enjoyed. HLv 267.2

Tidings of Christ's work had penetrated to this region. This woman had heard of the prophet, who, it was reported, healed all manner 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 manner of diseases, whether those who come for help are rich or poor. HLv 267.3

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 representation of the lesson He designed to teach. For this He had brought His disciples to this region. He desired them to see the ignorance existing in cities and villages close to Israel. The people who had been given the truth made no effort to help souls in darkness. The partition wall which Jewish pride had erected shut even the disciples from sympathy with the heathen world. These barriers were to be broken down. HLv 267.4

Christ received this representative of a despised race with the cold and heartless manner in which the Jews would treat such a case. But the woman did not lose faith. As He passed on, as if not hearing her, she followed, continuing her supplications. 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. HLv 268.1

But it was a pitying Saviour who answered: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Although this answer appeared to be in accordance with the prejudice of the Jews, it was an implied rebuke to the disciples, which they afterward understood as reminding them of what He had often told them—that He came to the world to save all who would accept Him. HLv 268.2

The woman urged her case with increased earnestness, bowing at Christ's feet, and crying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus, still apparently rejecting her entreaties, answered, “It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.” This was virtually asserting that it was not right to lavish on strangers and aliens from Israel the blessings brought to the favored people of God. This answer would have utterly discouraged a less earnest seeker. But the woman saw that her opportunity had come. HLv 268.3

Beneath the apparent refusal of Jesus, she saw a compassion He could not hide. “Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Even dogs are not left unfed! So, while there were many blessings given to Israel, was there not also a blessing for her? She was looked on as a dog, and had she not, then, a dog's claim to a crumb from His bounty? If she may have the privilege of a dog, she was willing to be regarded as a dog; and she immediately acknowledged Jesus as the Redeemer, as being able to do all that she asked of Him. HLv 268.4