Crumbs, the littlest thing, is what the Syrophoenician woman asked for. She didn’t expect that she would be worthy of “the full portion,” but as the Greek woman begged Jesus for healing for her demon-possessed daughter, all she asked for was a little of his power to save her daughter.
The story of the Syrophoenician woman is the story of all people, said Rex Horne, president of Ouchita Baptist University in Arkansas, during a chapel service at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on September 28. Although he said he has grappled with the story of the Gentile mother for years, he recognizes that just as she begged for “crumbs,” or a little healing touch from Christ Jesus, he understands that all of us must empty ourselves and ask Jesus for his power.
Reading from the story’s account in both Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 7:21-28, Horne said the two questions to understand are, ‘Why did Jesus go to Tyre?’ and ‘Why did the woman go to Jesus?’
The region of Tyre was the location Jesus chose to retreat to after performing miracles, speaking the gospel and ministering to people.
“It came to a point where Jesus must have felt he needed a break,” Horne said. However, he said word began to spread that Jesus was in town, prompting many, including the Syrophoenician woman, to seek healing from him. “Why did he go? Because he needed a break and to meet a human and spiritual need.”
The woman, who was Greek and had trusted her pagan religious tradition her whole life, recognized that Christ Jesus was her only hope of help for her daughter, whom she loved.
“She was a desperate woman whose child was demon-possessed, and she knew her religion could not help her. This was a matter of life and death to her. Her religion was broken.”
Reading in Matthew 15:21, Horne said, “You would think Jesus would say, ‘Your faith has made you whole,’ but he said not a word. She had tremendous need and she cried out to the Lord and he said not a word.
“Most people would have gone home and said, ‘He’s not who I heard he was.’”
Horne said that in verse 24 though, we can see his urgency for the lost, although the lost of Israel. “In the first place, the woman was ignored. In the second place, she’s excluded because she’s not of Israel.” Finally, when Jesus responds, the Scriptures say he compared the woman to a dog, begging for the master’s bread.
“’Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table,’” Horne said she replied. “It did not matter that he didn’t answer her. It didn’t matter that he excluded her. It didn’t even matter that he compared her to a dog.
“It did not matter, because he was her hope,” Horne said. “We often miss the point: We, too, are beggars that need a crumb. I’m a sinner saved by grace that needs the Lord’s touch. It seems we will never get all Jesus wants to give us until we completely empty ourselves. That woman was there.”
Horne said Jesus will answer his people when they say, “I am nothing and I have nothing, but I am emptied so I can see the fullness of your power. Don’t pass me by. Touch my life.”