Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah

Lessons on Leadership from Nehemiah

“Lessons from the Syrophoenician Woman”

Categories: Miracles of Jesus

Towards the end of Mark 7, Jesus exited Galilee and entered the region of Tyre, Gentile territory.  He entered a house, not wanting others to know He was there.  Jesus has just concluded wrangling with the Pharisees about what constituted cleanness (Matthew 15:1-20).  He has emphasized the heart of the individual; what is on the inside is where corruption takes place. It manifests itself outwardly, but it begins with the heart. Jesus concludes by again defining defilement as moral rather than ceremonial. He seeks to get away, perhaps for some rest. He has been busy. He fed the 5000, calmed a storm, was confronted by the religious leaders, and healed many people in the towns they traveled through, but Jesus could not stay hidden.  The Syrophoenician woman found Him and was determined to have Jesus deliver her daughter from an unclean spirit. 

We can understand this mom’s heart. She desires for her daughter to be healed.  She kept asking Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:26).  She was not going away until she had an answer.  In Matthew’s version of the story, she cried out for Jesus to have mercy on her and heal her daughter (chapter 15).  Then Jesus does something we rarely see; He doesn’t answer her.  He basically ignores her. The disciples, fed up with her cries, come to Jesus and ask Him to send her away. Here is where the story takes an even stranger turn.  Jesus responds to her request with these words, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Mark 7:27). Basically, Jesus calls her a dog as He explains that His mission is to the Jews first and then the Gentiles.  Most people would have been offended, but the woman does not take offense.  She responds that even dogs receive crumbs from the children’s table. For her, a crumb was enough. Jesus’ replies, “O woman, your faith is great; be it done to you as you wish” (Matthew 15:28). When the woman goes home, she finds her daughter fully healed.

Her focus was on who Jesus was, not who she was. This woman could have been defensive towards Jesus.  He basically called her a dog, even if it was a pet dog. Somehow the woman understood what Jesus meant and was not offended.  She focused on Jesus and what He could do.  

We live in a world where people are offended easily. Being offended depends on my focus.  If we are feeling insecure, we see everything through that lens. But if we are secure in Christ, our focus is on Him. It doesn’t matter what others say. I am better able to hear what the other person is saying. It makes for a better situation.

She took seriously her role as intercessor for her daughter. The Syrophoenician woman was all in. She wanted Jesus to heal her daughter, and she was not going to be turned away easily. Her prayer was not only short and humble, but full of faith. She relied on God’s mercy and persevered with her request.   

She trusted that a crumb was enough to meet her need. Jesus said her daughter was healed.  She believed it and went home to find out that it was so. Jesus met her need in His way, and it was more than enough. How often do I bring a need to Jesus, but I want Him to meet that need in a certain way? God is more concerned about our character and who we are becoming in Him, than He is about my external circumstances.  

Prayer: Lord, we want to have great faith like this woman. We are so easily distracted and loose our focus. We begin to want You to heal and answer the way we think You should. We want to let You be the great physician. We want to be focused on Who you are, not what we want You to be. We want to have a heart like this woman who knew what she wanted and persisted.  Even if it is a crumb, if it is from You, it will be enough.