..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Barking under the Lord's Table: the Little Dogs and the Crumbs of Jesus

"But he answered and said, "I was not sent except
to the lost sheep of Israel." Then she came and
worshiped Him saying, "Lord, help me." But He
answered and said, "It is not good to take the
children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little
dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the
master's table." Then Jesus answered and said
to her, "O Woman, great is your faith! Let it
be done to you as you desire." (Matthew 15:24-28),
(also, Mark 7:24-30).

Jesus can say some politically incorrect doozies,
can't He? What is He really saying here?

The story unfolds this way: In Mark's gospel
the account reads that Jesus enters a house
and doesn't want anyone to know He is there.
A little peace and quiet is always a good thing, but
Jesus "could not be hidden" (Mark 7:24).
What an understatement this is! Perhaps all Jesus
wants is just a moment to rest in peace and
here comes someone else pestering Him.
Israel by herself had enough problems to keep
Him busy. On earth, unending human need can weary
even the Savior.

I just finished reading some well-written
commentary on this passage but the commentator
suggests that Jesus serves up a softball to
this feisty, foreign woman so that she might hit a
"spiritual" home run. No doubt Jesus was trying
to elicit a reaction, but it seems to me like
He was throwing this woman a screaming
fast inside pitch, chin music, something
well-nigh impossible to hit. Jesus, what
were You doing? The gospels seem to favorably
highlight the people, often outcasts or gentile,
that push way past their comfort zone to pursue

The woman, a Canaanite, and Greek to boot, comes
to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter, but He
seems to shut the door rudely in her face saying,
"Sorry, I only serve Jews." She and her daughter
certainly do not fit that description: they are
gentiles, goyim, heathen, dogs. No doubt she was
the stereotype of, well, I better not go there.
She needs help. Badly. The daughter is
demon-possessed. Even dogs recognize bad situations.

Jesus then makes it harder by painting
the scenario that healing her daughter would
be as crazy as feeding the dogs at the table
and letting the the children sit on the floor.
The dogs, in this case, being her and her
daughter! Excuse me?

She takes the chin music solidly on the chin
and then proceeds to throw Him her own sweet
brushback pitch! She announces to Him that in
any decent family there is food enough even
for the dogs, so what is the big deal?
Even if she has to sit on the floor and
beg, even a bread crumb will do the trick!
In fact, I think she astounds Him!

Do you realize what she is saying?
She gets something that the disciples
do not yet grasp: that God's salvation
is for everyone, and even a crumb off
God's table will heal us. All we need do
is press up to, or under, the Lord's Table.

Dear ones, we, as the gentile world,
are the "little dogs" of God. In Romans,
Paul calls us, "wild olive tree branches"
grafted in (Romans 11:17). In Peter's trance
we are wild boars, crawdads, lizards and
vultures to name a few lovelies (Acts 10:12).
"Little dogs" next to that is starting to
sound like a compliment.

If we Gentiles are only eating the crumbs
that fall from our Master's table, they
are magnificent crumbs! It is a glorious
banquet, where no-one goes away
hungry. The Master is throwing us
hand-picked scraps that suit each
one of us! Oh to be Jesus' little dog!

The woman keeps calling out after Jesus,
but He's mum as a mute. The "crumb" she
needs is quite substantial, probably
technically more than a "bite", but it is
all in the approach, no? You can demand a
bite by barking or you can sit and look hopeful.
She manages to do both at the same time.

The disciples assume that they know what
Jesus is thinking. They assume He will send
her away because she is annoying, much too bold,
a heathen Greek, a woman, an embarrassment
with an embarassing daughter. Are we
like the disciples or are we like the
woman? How do we look at people? How do
we think of Jesus?

There is a political incorrectness that also
abounds on our side of things. Disciples,
then and now, are trying to "protect" Jesus
from "dogs"--from people whose need makes
them desperate, from people who will embarrass
themselves and mostly embarrass what self-righteous
people seem to think is the "cause of Christ." As if
Jesus could be embarrassed! Is it not those
who are filled with themselves who get embarrassed
and project it on the Lord? After all, it is only
the "self" that gets embarrassed and Jesus' self
was dead to all but God.

What they don't realize that here He is about to
teach them several things: that those who refuse
to be embarrassed, or turned back in their total
pursuit of God, are the ones who are rewarded;
that Christ has come for the whole world; and that
the kingdom of God is about Jesus coming not for
those who think they are well, but for those who
are hopelessly hungry, flea-bitten, stray and mangy!

The disciples have no idea that He is come to be
the saviour of the whole world. He has
been dropping hints to the disciples
that are bigger than boulders (John 10:16;
John 4:22,23, Mat. 8:5-13) but, of course, they are
not getting it, how can they? It is not until
Pentecost that God truly unites all believers,
Jew & Gentile, by making the Holy Spirit of promise
available to us all.

It is way too big for them to get yet. Here, Jesus
plays off the request of a woman. He lets a woman
outpreach him and I'll bet that got the boys'

God is eager to provide for all that come to
Him. They must simply pursue Him doggedly with a
strong sense of their need. His provision is
abundant. He is not throwing gristle and stale
bread crusts over the side of the table, He is
throwing us fistloads of blessings, and buckets
of spiritual delicacies: all that makes our hearts
sing and our spiritual stomachs happy.

He is throwing us salvation, and healing, and
full inheritance as His sons and daughters.
The only thing that stops us is our pride so
if we can get past the "dog" thing, a lot
will start to come our way.

All any of us need is a crumb from the Master's
Table. It does not matter if we are dog or child--
there is abundance for all at God's table.
Thank God that He has made us His children. But
frankly, being a dog under Jesus' table would
still be fine with me. As long as I can sit
near Him, I don't mind what role I have. Avail
yourself of the Master's bread. It only takes a
crumb to bring you the healing, the grace,
the provision, that you need. Can you "sit" with
Jesus? Can you "stay" with Him? Can you "lay
down" at His feet? If so, abundance is coming at you.

1 comment:

Randy Hurst (propheT) said...

This reminds me that his little bit is more than I will ever comprehend. Look at the expanses of the universe... your insight, as always is an authentic blessing.