THE SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN
The SYROPHOENICIAN WOMAN - Lessons learnt from her faith
“O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you wish” (Matthew 15:28 TAB)
These were the famous words of Jesus to the Syrophoenician woman. What was so special about this woman? What did she do that Jesus had to commend her in this manner? Let us take a look at her story which is recorded in Matthew 15:21-28 as well as in Mark 7:24-30, and see what lessons Jesus wants us to learn.
First it is important to note that we are not told the name of the Syrophoenician woman. The Bible refers to her by her race, her place of origin. The Syrophoenician woman is of Canaan and Syrophoenician by race. In today’s world where everyone wants you to know who they are and others name drop so you know who they know, this woman would have been insignificant. Thankfully, our God is no respecter of persons. He delights in using the insignificant ones, the so-called nobody’s of this world, the nameless ones to teach us lessons. In the Old Testament, we see Him using the Widow of Zaraphath and the Shunammite Woman and in the New Testament, He uses people like the Woman of Samaria. It really does not matter who knows us or who acknowledges us, the important thing is that God knows us and He is the only one that really matters.This was the case of the Syrophoenician woman.
The Bible begins the account of this woman’s story by telling us that Jesus departed into the coast of Tyre and Sidon, the area known as Phoenecia. This is an area that lies north east of Palestine. The Phoenecians were heathen and steeped in idolatry. In other words, they were a people in darkness. But Jesus is the light of the world and He came to bring light to places that are dark. Besides, Jesus sees what others do not see. He does not look at the outside but the inside. He saw that there was someone in that place who had potential and who He was going to use to teach His disciples as well as those of us who are coming behind. Hallelujah. This should make us want to shout. Brethren, if Jesus were to look at us and deal with us according to how we are, we would be hopeless. Before Him, a holy God, our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). But in His mercy, He does not leave us as we are but receives us unto Him and then begins to do a work in us. He begins to mold us and make us into His image. Glory to God.
The Bible Commentary says this was the first time that Jesus would go outside the boundaries of Palestine, In other words, it was not usual for Him to leave His normal environs. But the God we serve will make a detour for the sake of one person. He will go where He has to go to see that those who are in darkness may see the light, those who are lost may be free from the bondage of sin and those who are oppressed may be delivered from satanic oppression. (Luke 4:18-19). You see, He will make a detour for you. He did it for the Syrophoenician woman . It is wonderful to know that He is still doing so today through His servants. We learn of missionaries who are leaving their country of birth to go to distant lands, places where the name of Jesus has never been heard, to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. They are an extension of His hands and feet.
This should also encourage those of us that know Him because it tells us that no matter how difficult the problems we may be going through, no matter what the circumstances we are in, God is able to reach down, He is able to resolve every problem that we may be facingjust as He did to the Syrophoenician woman.
When Jesus arrived in this area, He went into a house and did not want anyone to know of it (Mark 7:24a). This tells us that there is a time for everything. There is a time to be seen and a time to just retire quietly. Many times in the Word of God, we read of Jesus retiring to a quiet, a solitary place, sometimes alone (Mark 1:35) and other times with His disciples (Mark 6:32). We too need to have times when we leave the hustle and bustle of this world and retire to a solitary place to seek His face, to be renewed and refreshed so that when we re-appear, we may be able to manifest that we have received from HIM.
However, we are told that Jesus, being who He is, His fame had preceded Him (Mark 7:24b). When Jesus is in a place, everyone knows because He is God. The same is true for those who know Him and are serving Him faithfully. People will see Him in us. His hand that is upon us and His spirit that is within us will be seen, it cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:54). We are told in Acts 4:13 that the rulers and elders took note that Peter and John had been with Jesus. May the same be said of us. Further, as Believers, we must take every opportunity to lift Him up, talk about Him, testify of His greatness, His goodness and faithfulness and as we do so, He has promised to draw all men unto Him (John 12:32).
It is interesting to note that the Bible tells us that while Jesus was in this house, along comes a woman. It makes us wonder why only this woman came when there must have been others in that area who had problems and had heard of this miracle worker. It is the same today. There are many who are going through one problem or the other. They have tried everything within their power and have sought the help of others but the problem persists. These same people have heard the Word of God and have been encouraged to give their life to Jesus, to cast their burdens upon Him, but they have given one reason or the other not to. Jesus says it is only those that seek Him that will find Him. The Syrophoenecian woman sought Jesus and she found Him.
This woman recognized and admitted that her daughter was sick and needed to be cured. We learn many things here. She could see that her daughter was not normal. She knew that something wrong that had to be made right. Many mothers today know that their children are sick, either physically, mentally or emotionally but they fail or refuse to admit it and take the necessary steps to get help. Today, too many children are delving into ungodly activities, witchcraft, pornography, drugs and alcohol, to mention a few, but their parents have closed their eyes or turned the other way. They live in denial until it becomes too late.
Let us take a look at what she says. “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!.......” (Matthew 15:22).The Syrophoenician woman recognized that Jesus is the Messiah because she referred to Him by His Messianic title, Son of David. She knew her place and asks for mercy. She knew that she was a gentile an alien to the covenant of promise and therefore did not have the right to receive from Him. The Syrophoenician woman knew that it was only by His mercy that she would get her petition. She was bold yet she was humble. The Word of the Lord tells us to come boldly before His throne of grace to obtain mercy in our time of need. This is exactly what the Syrophoenecian woman did (Hebrews 4:16).
In this woman, we see a mother’s love for her child. The Syrophoenician woman was willing to do what it takes to get her daughter healed, even if it meant being embarrassed and humiliated. We are told that Jesus did not answer a word (Matthew 15:23) but she continued to cry out. This tells us that she was persisted. The Syrophoenician woman did not give up. The Bible says “men ought to pray and not faint.” All she cared about was that her daughter needed deliverance and this was the only one who could do it.
The Syrophoenician woman was focused. Even when the disciples asked Jesus to send her away, she did not look at them. She knew that it was Jesus and Him only that could help her so she kept her focus on Him and received her miracle. Many times, we take our focus off Jesus. We let other things and other people distract us. We should learn from this woman and just keep our focus on Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
The Bible also tells us that even after Jesus tells her that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, she knelt before Him and cried “Lord, help me!” (Matthew 15:25) This was an act of reverence, worship and humility. God delights in those who worship Him. We must learn to be worshippers because it is only in worshipping Him that we can receive our miracle.
Jesus then makes a statement that ordinarily would cause her to leave in annoyance or give up. He says to her “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” She replied “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:26-27). She refused to feel insulted and accepted that she was not deserving of the loaf of bread but would settle for the crumbs that fell from the table. So impressed was Jesus by this woman that He commended her and gave her heart’s desire.
Although the lessons in this story apply to everyone, male, female, young and old, mothers ought to pay particular attention to what this woman said and did. God has especially blessed women with discernment and intuition. First, a woman is quick to discern and observe things that a man may not discern or which may take longer for him to discern. Mothers need to be extra vigilant, observant, and quick to discern what their children are doing, what they are involved with, so they can stop them before it is too late. Second, the woman of Canaan had such a love and a burden for her daughter that she did not give up till she received her miracle and her daughter was made whole. Mothers ought to have a burden to see their children saved, delivered and living a victorious Christian life. Third, mothers should spend time in prayer for their children. The world we live in today is full of wicked people who have targeted children and aim to destroy them. Mothers, pray like never before that the hand of God will be upon your children, that the cares of this world will not take them over, that evil men/women will not come near them, that they will delight themselves only in the Lord. Speak into their lives but most importantly show them good example.
Mothers arise and take your rightful place like the Syrophoenician woman ,let your faith be seen.
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The Syrophoenician Woman