“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Jesus called this woman and her people, the Canaanites, dogs.
I’ve heard this interpreted as Jesus comparing them to dogs in their understanding of morality, that they understood the difference between right and wrong, in much the same way a dog would.
But I don’t buy that. Do you?
So what’s you’re deal Jesus? Calling people dogs is not cool. Why do you have to be that way?
Well, for one thing, Jesus loves hyperbole. He loves to overstate things to the point of incredulity. And another thing He loves to do is set up the disciples, to strain their worldview. He is purposely playing to the racial stereotypes they held in calling these Canaanites dogs (notice how none of them object to that language?). So it is the disciples who are the racists and Jesus is using their prejudice to open their eyes.
Jesus is not a racist. While His words might raise our suspicions here, He only speaks so to make the miraculous healing of this woman’s daughter the more dramatic.
Here is a woman from the wrong side of the tracks. And Jesus commends her faith.
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
The miracle strikes home. The disciples are amazed, both at the casting out of the demon and Jesus’ indifference to this woman’s national identity. And like the yeast of the parable from chapter 13, it begins to work into the dough of their brains. But work it does. Read Acts 10:34-36:
“Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.””
So what are your blinders? Are you a racist? Don’t answer those questions too quickly. Think it over. Maybe you aren’t racist, but you are probably prejudice against some group of people. For some reason, people have a natural bent toward others that look like them, thinking them more worthy of the good things in life. But we’ve got to get past that if we want follow Jesus, if we want to see the world with His eyes.
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Lord, open my eyes. Expand my heart.