We have two faithful dogs named Nutmeg and Mollie. I say they're faithful but what I mean is they are passionate about their food. They are faithful to us because they know we are the source of their meals. Even today when I was at home for a healthy lunch of chips, cheese, and salsa, they were right by my side. Not lying on the floor sleeping but attentively sitting by my side with their beautiful eyes turned upward adoring my . . . hands. Each time I dipped into the bag to pull out more cheese their eyes would follow them. Back and forth, over and over. Okay it wasn't that many times but you get the idea. They just knew I was going to give them a big handful of that delicious grated cheddar. But I didn't. Every once in awhile I would let a shaving slip from the counter. Just to keep them on my side.
I've been thinking for a few days now about our dogs' attentiveness and the assurance that they would receive something every time I went into the kitchen. You see, I knew I would be writing about some dogs in Scripture who were just as confident. Whether these were literal dogs or some that the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 made up I'm not sure. You can read about them here. So maybe you're wondering why I'm talking about dogs and faith. It is because this lady brought it up and Jesus, because of what she said about dogs, recognized her great faith. So naturally I'm paying attention. Maybe I should back up a little.
If you've already read the passage above you have a little insight but let me break it down just a little for you. Jesus takes an unexpected retreat to a Gentile region north of Galilee. While there a Canaanite lady hears about arrival. She has a critical need. Her daughter is demon possessed. In fact, Mom's at the end of her rope with no solution but she obviously knows about Jesus and comes to Him pleading for help (as any parent would). Curiously, Jesus doesn't even respond. His disciples request that He send this bothersome woman away. Jesus makes the statement that He's been sent to the lost sheep of Israel, seemingly excluding her. She kneels before him pleading for His help. He again makes a statement that one doesn't take bread from children and feed it to the dogs (affirming what He said before). It is here that something happens.
I'm not sure what prompted this lady to try again to convince Jesus but she delivers an insightful analogy following the Lord's statement. Maybe she had dogs of her own that she had observed faithfully waiting by the table convinced that something, even a crumb, would soon find its way to the floor and into their bellies. Whatever prompted her, the response was surely coupled with her desperate need regarding her daughter. Barely after His words were out of his mouth, He hears her once again, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table."
I would like to think that immediately there was dead silence. I mean pin drop silence. The disciples are waiting to see how Jesus puts that lady in her place this time, perhaps. I'm not sure if there were crowds around. There usually were when Jesus was present. If so were they looking to see what happened next? Who knows? What about the Canaanite woman herself? Was she wondering if she would hear rejection once again?
You can probably be assured there were some dropped jaws when Jesus looked at this woman and said, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” You can also probably imagine the face of the mother as she realized she had been accredited the title of "Great Faith." No? Titles were not why she was there? She wasn't looking to make the "Top 10" of anything. She was there because she had nothing and Jesus had everything. It took the faith of dogs to see her hopes realized.
I know that often we look to how we can raise ourselves up to be recognized by those around us as having great faith. Maybe we should lower ourselves to the higher level beneath the table and experience those delicious crumbs, just like Mollie and Nutmeg. They promise to be faithful to remind me.
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