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Wednesday: A Woman Talks Back — 24 Comments

  1. Back in 1997 I wrote a comment on Sabbath School Net and I finished it off by saying that “Some ratbag will want to pick holes in that!” it wasn’t long before a string of comments came in, questioning my use of the term “ratbag”. For instance, “What do you mean calling Sabbath School Net participants a bag of rats?” It was a salutary lesson that Australian language does not cross the Pacific Ocean all that well and I had a bit of explaining to do. One of the staples of Australian humour is its incongruous use of terminology. We often use disparaging terms as terms of familiar friendship. Australia has a long history of incongruous humour stretching back to the convict days.

    Of course, when I referred to Sabbath School Net members as “ratbags”, it was a cheeky invitation for the participants, my friends, to engage with the conversation. It was not a patronising disregard of my fellow commentors.

    I suspect that Jesus was using incongruous humour when he met the Canaanite woman. She was a woman with a purpose driven by desperation for her daughter and I think Jesus perceived that she could respond in kind. When Jesus asked, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”, she was quick to respond, Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

    I love this little interchange. It sounds just like an Australian conversation. And in all that, Jesus detected faith and responded by healing her daughter. Hidden in this conversation was the lesson that Jesus wanted his disciples to learn. The Gospel was to be universal and not just a Jewish phenomenon. He was preparing his disciples to take the Gospel to the gentiles.

    • Yes, it's one of my favorite stories too. 🙂

      Although the disciples seem to have missed it, the woman clearly recognized that Christ was on her side. She *trusted* Him completely. All she asked for was "the crumbs." And He honored her trust as He intended to do all along. (I think He traveled that route especially to minister to her.)

      • She asked for crumbs - and Jesus gave her an abundant feast instead!

        That is an Awesome God...

        I join with you in believing Jesus especially intended to go that route too. His 'GPS' seemed to be calibrated to seeking out people in need.

    • I never read this remark and her response as cheeky friendly. When I read it that way it takes the whole power and sincerity away. That makes me sad and I believe you are very wrong to put an Australian cultural stamp on Jesus,the Holy Saviour. He was serious in his remark and she was extremely humble to compare herself to a dog, scavenging for a crumble. We must be careful not to lower Jesus to our cultural standards.

      • Hi Paul. You are welcome not to see it the way I portrayed it. I presented it that way because it makes sense to me. We are very loath to portray Jesus as laughing and smiling and that is unfortunate because I am sure that he often had a twinkle in his eye. I am sure that Jesus made the remark about little dogs in a way that did not give offence and what better way than to say it with a smile.

      • "We must be careful not to lower Jesus to our cultural standards."

        Do you really think that brother Paul? What is worst, the humankind state or its culture?

        Jesus, being God, left behind his glory to become a human-like me (a wretch). That means: when He was a child he used to play with other children, He smiled, He cried, He laughed, He felt sadness, He ate... If Jesus were living now on earth, wouldn't He have a passport, cellphone, computer, internet, Facebook, Instagram... and use them to preach the world? Or would He go from Mexico to Canada by walking and not use a car or a plane?

        We always think that Jesus is so "serious" that he would always wear suits and nice shoes every day, like a pastor, even to go to a picnic.

        Jesus started "treating" the woman "as a Jew" viewed, and would do to the Gentiles, and then showed to every Jew how they should consider the Gentiles because they are sons and daughters of God too.

        My brother, with all respect and love, read again and again the life of Jesus in the Bible.

        Stay blessed!!

        • 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 Arnel Pierre, you have nailed the point. And I am 💯% in agreement with your comments. Please brethren, we should be very careful in our view who Christ was and is, not to fall into legalism.

    • I'm American, but I've also thought that Jesus was using humor here. But I would not have understood "ratbags". 🙂 I agree that Jesus definitely had a good sense of humor. After all, He created giraffes and elephants!

  2. This method of teaching was more for the disciples than the woman. Christ wanted the disciples to learn of their problems by seeing and not by telling. This situation was to show them that there was a lack of understanding of the needs of those around them. By initially ignoring her, He allowed the disciples to see the folly of their treatment of neighbors around Israel.

    Using Maurice's insights, I can see in this story, as with many others, He turned the religious views upside down, He used an object lesson, and He taught with compassion. By the disciples seeing the lesson rather than being told, Christ was compassionate to the disciples also.

  3. Today's lesson notes "when someone talks back to Jesus, He still listens."

    If Jesus successfully showed us what God is also like (John 14:9), then God also doesn't have an issue with someone who 'talks back' to Him. God knows our heart motive (1 Samuel 16:7) beneath our 'talking back' or 'crying out' in frustration, anger, pain, discouragement, etc.

    And God's response to our 'talking back' and 'crying out' and even our questioning is, once again, pure compassion.

    There is no other person that I am as honest and open to as I am with God - and that is a fantastic thing to be able to experience because I know God's 'response' towards me is always born of pure compassion. God already knows my innermost heart - so absolutely nothing is hidden from Him anyway. And I find that nothing but comforting. Pure compassion/love casts out fear (that God has a 'judgmental/condemnatory' attitude towards me) 1 John 4:18. Yes, there are things in my life that God is continuing to work on with me - and I slip up/mess up at times. But I know that God doesn't look down on me or think any less of me when I do. And that really helps me get back on board and resume the journey just like Paul talks about in Philippians 3:12-15.

    Do you personally know what that feels/is like?

    • Yes, Phil - nothing is more liberating than knowing we are accepted in Jesus Christ by Faith, and with Him safely enfolded in our Heavenly Father. Acceptance not due to works or anything related to and controlled by man; it is by God's grace expressed through His continuous, compassionate Love, taught and shown by our Lord Jesus Christ and instilled in us by His Holy Spirit - John8:36KJV

    • Phil- it seems to me like compassion is the team of many. In Jesus dealing with others, he constantly showed compassion for them and this is one such case. We read those in the bible e.g the feeding of the five thousand, healing blind Bartimaeus, etc.
      e.g of supporting texts- Matt 14:14; 15:32; 20:34. Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13. etc.

      I have non-Christian/non-SDA friends. I want to know in these uncertain times of covid19 and the shutting down of places of unemployment, of many losing their jobs, many are depressed, anxiety hitting the roof, losing their homes, etc. Can I point any to this sabbath school site where others have/is showing how they have literally shown compassion for others? Without action, Jesus' words would have become a failure.

      The Jews talked a good talk, but did they walked a good walk?
      Matt 5:20

      • Lynn, I love your response and would give it a thousand ‘thumbs up’ if I could. You have summed it up perfectly, and we are to learn from it, and follow His example. What are our words worth without action? Compassion. Let our words not become a failure. Let’s all ‘walk the good walk’, and not just talk!!

      • It would be a mistake to assume there is just talk going on here. There are people ‘hanging out’ here that are very much involved in walking the walk.

  4. I think this lesson title is misleading; it does not speak to the story found in Matt.15:22-28KJV. In my opinion, it sensationalizes a 'presumed' context at the time Jesus encountered the woman, but does not consider it's spiritual setting ripe for everyone who wants to learn a lesson. As far as I am concerned, there are two perspectives to the story and we can learn from both.

    I can find a mother seeking healing from the one she calls ‘Son of David’ and worshipping Him calling Him Lord, desperately beseeching Him to help. She humbly accepts her low standing, acknowledging freely that she does not deserve to be heard, but she is never the less persistent calling on Jesus Christ's Mercy; and this is why He helps, crediting her FAITH!
    Matt.15:28KJV – “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”

    I disagree with the writer, Jesus did not dismiss the woman at all; He honored her in the presence of all listening to their exchange. This account is a testimony to the deep Faith and sincerely held desires of those who want to walk with God and believe that He hears them. The women 'heard God’s word' and believed, those who wanted to refuse her did not.

    John8:34-51KJV Jesus spoke these words to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel”; their real struggle was with Faith!
    v.37 – “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.”
    v.42 – “If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but He sent me.
    v.43 – “Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye cannot hear my word.”
    v.47 – “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because yea are not of God.”
    v.51 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”

  5. Many imply that Jesus didn't mean what He said to the woman, but if we compare it to what He had said before, maybe He did mean it. Even Revelation tells that the dogs would not be allowed into the New Jerusalem. Of course we know that 'the dogs' were describing a type of person not the animal. So comparing Scripture with Scripture we learn 'the dogs' were unholy wicked people who will not be saved. So why did Jesus make this true statement as a response to the woman's plea and his disciples rejection of her cry for help?
    I believe He was testing the woman's heart and teaching the disciples not to reject people based on gender or ethnicity.

    Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Matt 7:6
    But outside (the New Jerusalem) are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Rev 21:15

    • Shirley, you wrote: "Even Revelation tells that the dogs would not be allowed into the New Jerusalem."

      This is true, but let's not forget that Jesus did not compare her to a dog, but to a little dog. That was an endearing term. Little dogs are some of the most loving animals that we know.

  6. Indeed this lesson also teaches us humility and patience whenever we present our issues before the master Jesus. Most of us are impatient and we take every delay as denial. God requires our total dependent on Him so that His Glory will not be shared with anyone.

  7. Jesus is the answer to our problems. We have to humble ourselves before God, because He knows the end from the begining. Although the answer may not come the way we think is best, we need to learn to trust Him always!

  8. Behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.” Matthew 15:22

    A Woman Talks Back
    We have to remember Jesus came to the Jews/his people, the seventy years' prophecy had to be fulfilled as exact as it was said hundreds of years ago by Daniel. 7 yrs shall be divided into two 3.5 years. Jews to clean up themselves(with Jesus teaching/nail to the cross, etc) then after, Steven stoning (rejection of Christ), then another 3.5 will go to the Gentiles (accept the gospel). The gentile's time did not come as yet. Jesus was just reminding the gentile woman of such teaching.

    The author mentioned-'He had crossed into a place where strangers abounded and ethnic tension bristled. The Greek-speaking city dwellers looked down on Jewish farmers in the countryside, and the Jewish farmers looked down on them in return.'
    There is a difference in opinion from mine, it was the Jews who hated the Greeks/gentiles and not the other way around.

    Read what another author mentioned.
    The people of this district were of the old Canaanite race. They were idolaters and were despised and hated by the Jews. To this class belonged the woman who now came to Jesus. She was a heathen and was therefore excluded from the advantages which the Jews daily enjoyed. {DA 399.2
    Woe unto thee, Chorazin; Woe unto thee, Bethsaida; for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Matthew 11:20-25 Mark 3:8; Luke 6:17-19

    My solution- the Jews had Prejudice for others they considered unsaved/unchurched/unholy/heathen/dogs. The Jews also looked at Jesus and the disciples as outcasts, wine drinkers, and even sinners. They saw themselves as holy, righteous men.

    What about us, how do we see people who don't worship like us, dress like us, have the same identity as us, those who came from another country/region and dwelling/working among us?
    Are we SDA looking at people as the Jews looked at them in time past? Where I reside, many in different places literally leave the SDA church and went to other churches to worship because another ethnic group was now attending/infiltrating 'our' church. Do we try to heal or wound others?
    Remember therefore how thou hast receive and heard. Rev 2:5,16;3:3

    What I have done- I am encouraging us to read the bible and note all the places Tyre and Sidon is mentioned in the bible and read about with EG White shed light about those passages. How do we see ourselves or our SDA church in comparison to the Jews and the heathen in Jesus' day?

    He desired them to see the ignorance existing in cities and villages close to the land of Israel. The people who had been given every opportunity to understand the truth were without a knowledge of the needs of those around them. No effort was made to help souls in darkness. The partition wall which Jewish pride had erected, shut even the disciples from sympathy with the heathen world. But these barriers were to be broken down. {DA 400.1}

  9. This is how teaching happens, we have a brief scenario and we are invited to discuss - what and who is Jesus teaching, why did He not just heal her daughter right away, provide support for your conclusions. We see the results in the above comments.
    1) what was the woman's background?
    2) did she come to Jesus for a spiritual or material reason?
    3) did Jesus seem to ignore her at first?
    4) what was Jesus' attitude, harsh, serious or gentle?
    5) did He say dogs or puppies, what does your translation say? Did the Jews keep dogs as pets?
    6) during His ministry how did He treat other Gentiles?
    7) what was His parting instruction - go into .....?

    Read all the comments above - why are there variations in the opinions? Which one is right and why?

  10. Late to the conversation, so sorry if I am repeating any previous thoughts, for there are not a few above and no time to read them all.

    Why call this woman of faith audacious? She demonstrated a rare faith, which is what Jesus wanted His disciples, and us today, to understand. He was ALWAYS teaching in the hope that we will be learning. This is the Light shining in the dark. Yes, the minds of the disciples were still dark which was demonstrated by their bigotry towards this believing woman.

    Jesus was treating this Canaanite woman as the Jews, and His disciples would have, so they could see just how deep her conviction and strong her faith was, as an "outsider". Jesus brought out the best in her for their benefit, and ours if we are reading this wonderful story correctly. We know she was neither audacious or presuming because of her humility and respect.

    Audacious she was not. Believing she was. Few were they at that time who had such commendable faith, and Jesus loved to point it out and see it displayed, especially for His still unbelieving disciples, who were being groomed to lead the early church in the work of the Gospel as Christ's witnesses to a perishing world. And we must understand this story ourselves if we wish to be His faithful witnesses today. How many professed believers could be "schooled" by this woman and her simple faith in Jesus today?


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