In every country, every nation, and maybe even in your town, there are places most people avoid. The people who live in those communities don’t mingle with the rest of society. These places are often marked by crime and darkness. Yet many churches and ministries move into those areas to shine the light of the gospel.
Not long after He fed the five thousand, Jesus withdrew to Gentile territory. He had been rejected by His own in Nazareth. His cousin John had been killed by Herod. The religious leaders were escalating their opposition. So, the plan was to go through the Gentile region, into Judea, and ultimately to Jerusalem.
Near the infamous pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus and His disciples encountered a Canaanite woman. In the Old Testament, the Canaanites were the most wicked and despised of Israel’s enemies. Much of that cultural tension remained in Jesus’ day. Despite her reputation, the woman approached Jesus. She repeatedly called Him “Lord,” and begged Him for mercy (v. 22). Her daughter was demon possessed, and she was desperate. She showed her familiarity with Messianic prophesy by calling Jesus the “Son of David.”
Just three miles away was the pagan temple to Eshmun, a god of healing. This woman was surely familiar with this place. Yet she chose to come to Jesus. When Jesus did not immediately acknowledge her request, His disciples assumed He would send her away. Instead, Jesus engaged her in banter during which He maintained His commitment to reach Israel (“lost sheep”). She told him that even the Gentiles (“dogs”) would be blessed by the Jewish Messiah (vv. 26–27). Her answer showed her faith. Jesus affirmed her belief and healed her daughter.
>> Are there people or places you see as beyond the reach of the gospel? Ask God how He wants you or your church to serve them. No one is beyond His love or reach, and many are searching for the hope only He can bring!
This story moves us to gratitude that You have opened salvation to the Gentiles, as well as the Jewish people! None of us deserves Your grace, but You freely give it. May we proclaim Your mercy to others as undeserving and needy as ourselves.