Gentile
In the Bible, any non-Israelite person or nation.
Heathen
A person or group that does not acknowledge a particular religion, most often Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. In the Old Testament “heathen” referred to anyone who did not follow and worship the God of Israel.
A Story of Faith
Author: Wendy Goubej
Publish date:
Summary: One Phoenician woman chose faith and received a miracle from Jesus.
 
 

Genuine faith is to continue believing even if it doesn’t seem to be working at first. Matthew 15:21-28 tells us of a Gentile woman of the Canaanite race that came to Jesus asking for her daughter to be healed.

The disciples and Jesus were coming to the border of Phoenicia when this woman came up to Jesus. Christ’s message had spread into the region of Phoenicia where the Gentile Canaanites lived. This woman had heard of the prophet, who, it was reported, healed all manner of diseases. As she heard of His power, hope sprang up in her heart.

Inspired by a mother’s love, she determined to present her daughter’s case to Him. It was her resolute purpose to bring her affliction to Jesus. He must heal her child. She had sought help from the heathen gods, but had obtained no relief. And at times she was tempted to think, “what can this Jewish teacher do for me?” But she determined not to lose her only hope.

Christ knew this woman’s situation. He knew that she was longing to see Him, and He placed Himself in her path. By ministering to her sorrow, He could give a living representation of the lesson He designed to teach. For this He had brought His disciples into this region. He desired them to see the ignorance existing in cities and villages close to the land of Israel.

The Jewish people who had been given every opportunity to understand the truth were without a knowledge of the needs of those around them. They made no effort to help souls in darkness. The partition wall that Jewish pride had erected, shut even the disciples from sympathy with the heathen world. But these barriers were to be broken down.

CC Sharealike Ulisse Albiati on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/cyberuly/3779714739/

Christ did not immediately reply to the woman’s request. But although Jesus did not reply, the woman did not lose faith. As He passed on, as if not hearing her, she followed Him, continuing her supplications.

Annoyed by her importunities, the disciples asked Jesus to send her away. They saw that their Master treated her with indifference, and they therefore supposed that the prejudice of the Jews against the Canaanites was pleasing to Him. But it was a pitying Saviour to whom the woman made her plea, and in answer to the request of the disciples, Jesus said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Although this answer appeared to be in accordance with the prejudice of the Jews, it was an implied rebuke to the disciples, which they afterward understood as reminding them of what He had often told them—that He came to the world to save all who would accept Him. The woman urged her case with increased earnestness, bowing at Christ’s feet, and crying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus, still apparently rejecting her entreaties, according to the unfeeling prejudice of the Jews, answered, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.” This was virtually asserting that it was not just to lavish the blessings brought to the favored people of God upon strangers and aliens from Israel.

This answer would have utterly discouraged a less earnest seeker. But the woman saw her opportunity had come. Beneath the apparent refusal of Jesus, she saw a compassion that He could not hide. “Truth, Lord,” she answered, “Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

While the children of the household eat at the father’s table, even the dogs are not left unfed. They have a right to the crumbs that fall from the table abundantly supplied. So, while there were many blessings given to Israel, was there not also a blessing for her? She was looked upon as a dog, and had she not then a dog’s claim to a crumb from His bounty?

This woman was so different from the Pharisees. They murmured and complained. They manifested unbelief and bitterness, and refused the salvation so freely offered them. This woman was of an unfortunate and despised race that has not been favored with the light of God’s Word; however, she yields at once to the divine influence of Christ, and has implicit faith in His ability to grant the favor she asks.

She has no national or religious prejudice or pride to influence her course, and she immediately acknowledges Jesus as the Redeemer and as being able to do all that she asks of Him.

Jesus is satisfied...By His dealings with her, He has shown that she who has been regarded as an outcast from Israel is no longer an alien, but a child in God’s household. As a child, it is her privilege to share in the Father’s gifts. Christ now grants her request, and finishes the lesson to the disciples. Turning to her with a look of pity and love, He says, “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” From that hour her daughter became whole...The woman departed acknowledging her Saviour, and happy in the granting of her prayer” (DA, 399-402).

Even though Jesus seemed to ignore, spurn and even insult her, this Gentile woman persevered in her faith, continuing to trust Him and petitioning her request. The best definition of faith is trust. It is depending upon another.

How do we acquire faith?

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