In Mark 7 there is an interesting miracle that is recorded. It is interesting, not because Jesus cast out a demon, but rather because of the exchange between Jesus and the woman. The text is found in Mark 7:24-30.
Jesus has just taught on what defiles a person (Mark 7:1-23). In doing so he has denounced the Pharisees. After teaching on true defilement, Jesus again goes against the tradition of the elders. This time he goes outside of Palestine to the region of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus and His disciples are clearly seeking some rest. He tries to hide in a house, but there was no such luck. A Gentile woman comes to Him and asks that He cast out a demon that has possessed her daughter. It is here that we see the interesting exchange. After having asked Jesus to deliver her daughter, Jesus seemingly responds in a callous way by saying, “Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.” The woman, undeterred, responds, “Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.”
It is important to know here that Jesus is not specifically calling this woman or her daughter a dog, even though it was a common Jewish title for Gentiles. Jesus here is testing the woman’s faith. This woman had two very big cultural strikes against her at this time. First, she as a Gentile. Jesus clearly says that He has come to the Jews. This is of course in fulfilling Scripture that “salvation is of the Jews.” The second thing against her was the fact she was a woman. Women in that society were looked down upon. Yet we see in Jesus’ actions that the Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles, and that all people have the same sin problem, and need the same Savior. This is why Paul would later right that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, male or female. Paul was saying that God sees us all the same, that we all have the same problem, and that the solution is the same for everyone. Jesus’ first response to this woman wasn’t callous. Rather it was Jesus stating who He came to (the Jews-children) as an acknowledgment of Israel’s special relationship with God. What we see from the woman is incredible humility and faith.
She demonstrates faith by coming to Jesus in the first place. Even though she was a Gentile, she still believed that Jesus could heal her daughter. Her faith was strong enough to ignore the cultural stigmas that were against her, and still come seeking Jesus for help. Are we that desperate for Jesus? Are we willing to risk ridicule and maybe even rejection from people to see Jesus do something in our life? The woman displays great humility because she doesn’t argue with Jesus about Israel’s relationship with God. She says, “Yes, Lord.” She didn’t put the Jews down simply so she could have her daughter healed. She wasn’t presumptuous about who she was. She knew she was a Gentile woman, but she still had the faith to trust that God could heal her daughter. Again, what about us? Do we want what we want so bad that we will do whatever it takes, including put others down to get what we want? Do we have a sense of entitlement?
Faith and humility go hand in hand. Humility acknowledges who we are and our own weaknesses. While faith says, “I can’t, but God can.” That is why in James 4 it says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” We must first see clearly who we are, before we will ever look in faith to God to help us. Because of the woman’s humility and faith, Jesus healed her daughter. What do you need God to do in your life? Are you humble enough to admit that you can’t fix whatever the problem is? Do you have faith that God can?