To “challenge” Jesus and succeed is not something you hear about every day, so let’s clarify what we are talking about. Jesus was a speaker of God’s word and a doer of God’s will. Inevitably, challenging this would be a futile effort. When we say “challenge” we mean not following an expected pattern. There were a few instances in the ministry of Jesus where someone did not exactly follow Jesus’ set patterns regarding healing and they were blessed anyway. On this episode, we investigate another unnamed woman of the Bible. The Syrophoenician woman spoken of in Matthew 15 and Mark 7 was one of these people. This unnamed Gentile woman did not accept a seeming denial from Jesus when she asked for her daughter to be healed. Jesus complied with her insistence and she was blessed. What was her secret and what can we learn?
Jesus was her only hope
Jesus had ventured into the non-Jewish territory of Tyre and Sidon to rest. After he entered a house in which to find that rest, a loud and emotional woman showed up, begging and yelling to see Jesus. Her daughter was demon-possessed and she was at her wits end. She knew Jesus unexpectedly coming to her hometown was the one chance she had to rid her child of this evil experience. She wasted no time and expended all of her desperate energy to get his attention. He just had to help!
But it wasn't the time for the Gentiles
There was a significant challenge that stood between this woman’s pleading desire and her daughter being healed. They were Gentiles. Jesus came to be the Messiah of the Jewish nation. He came to fulfill the Jewish Law and be the deliverer of the Jewish people. The woman and her daughter were not scheduled to receive the Messiah’s blessings just yet.
So, what happens next? Several things of great impact. The woman does get to talk to Jesus and he does heal her daughter, though it was not a simple path to get to that resolution. Who is the real hero in this exchange? That depends on who you talk to We believe the woman showed heroic faith in Jesus, and he rewarded it with heroic and miraculous healing. Some say it is just the woman who was the hero because she “straightened Jesus out.” They say that Jesus showed bias against her, even racism.
Who is right? Was Jesus bigoted in his approach to her? Why would anyone even say such a thing? Check out our June 21, 2021 podcast, “Who Successfully Challenged Jesus?” for answers. We look at the entire account in its context. Then we follow this woman’s hysterical introduction and observe how she responded to Jesus with extraordinary faith and conviction. We learn why Jesus said the things he said to her. This is much more than a story of somebody being healed by Jesus. It is a practical lesson that teaches us how to take our own raw desperation before our Lord to find the answers and comfort we seek.