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Well-loved dogs

  Mark 7:25-30 {Story also told in Matthew 15:22-28}

       “For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, ‘Let the children be filled first for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ And she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.’ Then He said to her, ‘For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’ And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.” 

This story usually offends younger Christians because they do not understand why Jesus would deny this woman deliverance for her daughter. In reality Jesus said what He did in order to eradicate racism in the hearts of His disciples. That, however, is not the point of today’s lesson. The point simply put is that Jesus did not deliver this woman’s daughter until the woman stopped begging Him to do so!

    In the story, notice it says that she “kept asking” Him. This phrase infers that she was begging Him. During the time she was begging Him, her physical body was in a lower position near His feet so that she appeared physically to be worshipping Him. This begging and worshipping is what people do in the natural in order to “get God” to do this or that. However, the moment the woman became a little defensive as evidenced by her statement that the dogs deserve food too, then her daughter was delivered. This is so important to understand because if we are not careful, we too will not think ourselves worthy of answered prayer. 

    To be sure, on our own we are not worthy of answered prayer, but I would like to illustrate an emotional response that will hinder manifestations to prayer that this woman exemplifies. You see, when a human does not believe they are worthy of something and yet they want or need that something, then naturally they will attempt to manipulate anyone able to give it to them. You will observe this type of behavior when someone is attempting to be “humble” and yet they really want the praise of those around them. They will degrade themselves in order to illicit a compliment, we call it “fishing.” That is what this woman was doing. She knew that she was not a Jew and thus she believed she {and her daughter} were unworthy to receive the same benefits as those within the household of God.  Hence, she begged and pleaded and postured herself in a submissive physical position. She was, at that moment attempting to “twist God’s arm” into answering her request. However, God will not be manipulated and therefore, He had to show her who she really was. 

    When Jesus essentially called her a “dog”, He was using the term that was commonly used by the Jews to refer to the gentiles. When He did that, a bit of self-defense and value arose inside the woman and at that moment she knew that no matter what they {Jews} said about her, she had value. This is when her daughter was delivered. However, the value that the woman had in this moment was not in herself, but in her self identification as entirely dependent upon her master for life. She stated that even the dogs eat what falls from the master’s table which meant that first, Jesus was her master, and second that because He was, she was His obligation. This is what gave her value. 

    In the same way, we are valuable not because of who we are but because of whose we are.  Therefore, when you request something from your heavenly Father, you do not have to beg Him or manipulate Him, for it is His good pleasure to give you the kingdom!

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