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Commentary » Matthew 15:21-Matthew 15:28 »

A Canaanite Women With Great Faith

Harvard University’s Carol Franz used personality tests to determine compassion and sympathy. The subjects: 75 of an original 379 children who were 5 when the study began. Findings:Dads who spent time alone with his kids reared the most compassionate adults.Moms who were most acc … More


Jesus went into Tyre and Sidon, which is(present Lebanon) Gentile country (v. 21). As far as the Jews were concerned the Gentiles were “unclean” and they referred to them as “dogs”. Jesus wanted His disciples to have a compassion for Gentiles as well as Jews. The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:1-16).

Somehow a Caananite woman heard where He was and came to Him pleading that He have mercy on her demon possessed daughter (v. 22).  At first Jesus did not answer (v. 23. As she was persistent the disciples said “send her away!” It appears that they were actually saying “Lord why don’t you go ahead and help this woman because she isn’t going to give up until you do.”

To point out the fact that He knew she was a Gentile He referred to the Jews as children and the Gentiles as dogs (vv. 24-26). In His reply, Jesus did not actually call her a “dog” the way the Pharisees would have talked to a Gentile. She immediately seized upon His illustration about the children’s bread, which was exactly what He wanted her to do. She said that it was true that Gentiles do not sit at the table as children but as dogs under the table, and she was willing to eat some of the crumbs (v. 27)! With  this testimony of faith Jesus immediately healed her daughter (v. 28). Only two people in the Gospels are said to have “great” faith, and both of them were Gentiles (the other  (Matt. 8:10). Great faith does not depend on background or position, but on the heart.


This woman’s faith was great because she persisted in asking and trusting when everything seemed against her.  Has there ever been a time when it seemed like everything was against me? If so this is when I need to keep asking and trusting.

Matthew 15:21-28 (English Standard Version)

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »