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Even the Dogs Get Fed, Matthew 15:21-28

Pentecost 12A, Aug 20, 2023

Theme: Universal Gospel

By Rev. Lem Whitmer



For most people, strangeness causes discomfort. When a person is in an environment which is unfamiliar, one is on guard for the unexpected. Strange surroundings can produce unexpected stimuli. The mind alerts us to the possibility of danger, because danger almost always comes from unexpected sources.


The lectionary text tells of Jesus being in a foreign land, In the city of Tyre. In this foreign land, the culture is different. While Jewish people lived there during his time, the population was mostly pagan. Customs were different enough to make him and those traveling uneasy.

A woman approaches -- a perfect stranger. Evidently, she has heard of Jesus’ healing power. Anyway, she comes to Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter of evil possession. Different cultures define evil possession differently. It means, we, the reader, really have no idea what the child’s malady is. For that matter, with the information the Matthew writer gives us, we don’t know the daughter’s age except she is younger than her mother by between 13 and 20 years.


We know the daughter has a malady. It then can be assumed 1) The daughter is ill and 2) the mother is extremely concerned about her daughter. Also, the mother shows the ability to be insistent and respectfully defend her cause.


Jesus explains his ministry is not to those outside the Jewish faith and for this reason he cannot help her. She points out that even dogs are allowed to eat the leftovers from the table. Her suggestion is that even as insignificant as Jesus must think of her station, she will take whatever Jesus will give.


Jesus heals the woman’s daughter and compliments her faithfulness.

This ‘strange’ interchange between Jesus and the gentile woman provides us with much to ponder. How we can translate Jesus’ reaction to the situation to our present lives, can be insightful.


Come worship with us this Sunday at First Christian Church, Warrensburg, Missouri as we ponder the implications of Jesus response to a strange woman’s needs.

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