“He said to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and to throw it to the dogs.’ She answered, Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs’” (Mark 7:27-28)
Jesus seems to discourage the woman, reminding her that the children (the Jewish people) get priority over the little dogs (Gentiles, like her). But Jesus isn’t rejecting or discouraging her at all. He is only reminding her of her place. He, in fact, uses an affectionate term for a dog rather than a derogatory term that most used to describe Gentiles. The term Jesus used here speaks of a dear household pet, not an outside scavenger; a puppy, not a full grown dog.
Let’s look now at the response of this woman. She concedes that the Jewish people have a prior claim on Jesus’ ministry. Nonetheless, if the little pet dogs get the table scraps, then she felt she had a right to a crumb from the table. This woman’s answer revealed a quick wit and humility. She accepts her place but even in that place she knows that God has blessings for her as well. She would be satisfied with the crumbs. Her response is amazing in so many ways but it is her humility before the Lord that is truly astounding, and it is this humility that is rarely seen in our day.
Today our culture is all about what one deserves, has a right to, or is owed. People today live with a sense of entitlement and expectation, but not this woman. She is an example for all of us. If the woman had responded with, “Who are you calling a dog?” She would not have received from Jesus what her daughter needed. Her humble and faithful submission to Jesus brought healing to her beloved daughter. She implied that the Gentiles need not wait to receive Jesus’ blessings until a later time. They could feed when the children did, namely, during Jesus’ ministry. A little Gentile blessing would not deprive the Jews of what God wanted them to have.
Her departure for home without Jesus in verse 30 also demonstrates her faith. All Jesus had to do was speak the word and she believed her daughter would be healed and whole again. This story is a reminder of how positively Jesus responds to faith and humility. As Christ’s disciples may we seek to be humble, faithful followers of the Master.