Running With Mark 38

Day Thirty-Eight – February 4, 2020  

Read: Matthew 15:21-32

Here are a few pieces of background information that give the historical and social context for the story. 
  • Jesus has walked to Tyre and Sidon. It is a long walk of 25 and 50 miles to get to these towns.  Why would he go all that way?
  • The woman is described as a Canaanite woman, which means that her ancient ancestors were enemies of Israel. Remember that Matthew’s audience was a Jewish audience.  They would immediately have understood why it was so significant that Jesus helped this woman.  It would be similar to a Sunni Muslim helping at Shia Muslim.  Their conflict goes back all the way to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Dog was a term that was often used to describe Gentiles. Why would Jesus use this term that seems so derogatory? He used it to contrast the way he would respond to the woman from the way others used it to condemn Gentiles.
  • The woman is bold and tenacious in seeking help for her daughter. She calls Jesus “Lord” and “Son of David”, both of which are terms a Jewish person would use to refer to the Messiah.   
  • Compare her words to that of the Pharisees earlier in Matthew 15. They criticized Jesus’ disciples for eating without doing the appropriate ritual cleansing.  
  • Why do you think the disciples wanted to shoo her away? Was it because she was a Canaanite?  Was it because she would distract him from the tasks at hand?  Was it because she was loud and assertive at a time when women were to be quiet and compliant?
  • Jesus says in verse 24, “I was sent only to help the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Jesus’ words confuse our modern ears.  Remember that Matthew is writing for a Jewish audience. He wants to show that Jesus came first for the nation of Israel, and is now expanding his reach to the Gentiles and to the ends of the earth.
  • I wonder, if after being rejected by so many, Jesus finds this woman’s faith refreshing? How do you think Jesus felt and responded when people came to faith?


Your Great Name by Krissy Nordhoff | Michael Neale

Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zschech


Prayer Focus:

Talk to God about those whom you keep at arm’s length because they are different from you.



Grace and peace,
Pastor Karen Bruins