Tyre: Crumbs for the Dogs
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27).
This episode takes place in “the region of Tyre and Sidon” (v. 21), two Gentile cities located north of Israel in Phoenicia, in modern-day Lebanon. They were often condemned in the Old Testament because of their association with Baal worship. Those cities deserved their long-held reputation for idolatry, but the God they had rejected had a heart for them nonetheless. The woman Jesus met proves the point. At first he refused her request to heal her demonized daughter, saying that he had come for the lost sheep of Israel (v. 24). But falling on her knees, she begged the Lord to help her. Something about her desperate plea moved the Lord Jesus. When he compared the Gentiles to “dogs,” he used a term that would have offended many people.
But when you need a miracle, you can’t be choosy. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table. By saying that, she was in effect accepting that as a Gentile, she was outside the covenant God made with Abraham. But she believed that somehow, some way, Jesus could heal her daughter. When the woman went home, she found her daughter lying in bed and the demon gone.
This ought to give us great hope as we pray for the lost. We all have friends who seem to be living in “Tyre and Sidon,” apparently far from God. But that distance is only from our point of view. It takes no more grace for God to save an idol-worshiping pagan than to save someone raised in the church. Desperate times call for desperate prayers born of desperate faith. Ponder these words of J. C. Ryle:
“We are sometimes tempted to think that we get no good by our prayers, and that we may as well give them up altogether. Let us resist that temptation. It comes from the devil. Let us believe, and pray on.”
These are good words for all of us today. “Let us believe, and pray on.”
Lord Jesus, give us the faith of this woman who received a great answer to her prayers. Grant us faith to believe, and to pray on. Amen.