July 28, 2011 Crumbs for a dog like me
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence a secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose daughter little girl was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive out the demon from her daughter.
‘First, let the children eat all they want,’ He told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’
‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’
Then he said to her, ‘for such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.’
She went home and found her child laying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Mark 7: 24-30 NIV
I have always thought Jesus’ response to the woman in this account a bit peculiar. After all, he is in essence calling her a dog, and she is not even offended.
At closer look to the passage, (and I always like to keep it in context to everything going on) we find that Jesus is exhausted. He has been in full-steam-ahead ministry with the end in sight. A very trying and difficult end, I must say. (After all, being betrayed by a close friend, left alone by your friends and family, dying on a cross, bearing all the sin of the world while being separated from God is no easy feat.) He is so tired, he travels far north into Tyre to hide from the crowds that are following him. For example, in chapter 6 (of Mark) the disciples return from an outing Jesus had sent them on. The crowds began to move in before the disciples even had a chance to rest and recuperate. They try to get away by boat to a solitary place, but the crowds follow. Jesus has compassion on the crowds and feeds the people numbering over 5,000. (Mark 6:30-44)
While he is trying to hide, word gets out that Jesus is in town. A woman hears all that he has done, gets caught up in the hype, and rushes out to meet him.
She is so desperate for help that she begs him to drive out the demon from her daughter.
Jesus’ first response can seem so cruel. “First let the children eat what they want.” He is, of course, meaning the Jewish people. Jesus is the promised Messiah through the line of Jews. The Promised One is probably mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted, and still he cannot get alone. And then, for a non-Jew to ask for help. . . Of course if you have read much of the gospels you would know that Jesus crossed many social boundaries for his time, especially the Jew/Greek. I think that’s why his response seems so harsh.
The woman will not be deterred. She displays a deep trust that he is the promised Savior and that is exactly what she needs. Someone to save her daughter.
I never really appreciated her response until now. Growing up, we were a cat family. No dogs. PERIOD. Now, however, we have Daphne. Daphne is “like a shark”, the kids often say to describe her at meal time. She paces around the table waiting to make her move on any morsel that isn’t carefully guarded. She also waits to eat her dinner until every dish, spoon and fork is put away, and the garbage is tightly secured from her long snout. Then, and only then will she settle for her food. Why? She is hoping that one of us will have pity on her. She just knows that we would rather see her gobble down our dinner instead of her own. (Of course, when it’s all said and done, she also finishes her own meal as well.)
I think what the woman was saying was this. “I am willing to wait for even the smallest bit of hope you can offer.” She knows that Jesus holds the answer to what she needs, what her daughter needs.
As I meditated on this story today, it really humbled me. Would a crumb be enough for me? Am I willing to accept less than what I think I deserve (or want), or even to sit and wait as if it is a four coarse meal? Do I have the persistence and longing, like Daphne?
The woman didn’t want Jesus to go out of his way. She didn’t want to wear him down. She only wanted satisfaction. Of her soul. Of her daughter’s soul.
This brings to my mind some of my favorite verses. I call them life verses, because they speak to the heart of who I am.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matt. 5:6
As a deer pants for streams of water, so my souls pants for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it. Psalm 81:10
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107:8-9
It is a clear promise that when we come to Jesus hungry and desiring more than what life can offer, we will find the satisfaction and fulfillment that we need the most. As John Piper is often quoted. “God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him.”
Are you hungry?
Open up. It’s gonna be good.