Jesus withdraws to the region of Tyre and Sidon. These were Phoenician cities north of Palestine that bordered north western Galilee on the Mediterranean Coast. It was outside of Herod Antipas’s territory and Jesus came here to avoid Herod’s and the pharisee’s persecution and further form his Apostles. These cities were pagan cities and are now in Lebanon.
The woman who approaches Jesus is a pagan but astoundingly one with deep faith who believes that Jesus is the Messiah. Her daughter is possessed and tormented by a devil. She asks Jesus to help and heal her daughter. Jesus appears to ignore her and when the Apostles ask Jesus to give her what she wants in an effort to silence her as she is shouting after them, Jesus replies that he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The woman then in humility kneels before Jesus and calls Jesus Lord and pleads for help. Jesus then says that it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house dogs. This does seem rather harsh but we must remember that Jesus is simply testing her faith. He is also teasing her by referring to pagan as little dogs or puppies. He is reminding her that he came first to the chosen people. However, undeterred she claims that even house dogs can eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.
Jesus then states that she has great faith. It is a faith that is trusting, persevering, overcomes obstacles and is humble. Her request is granted simply because she has a deep faith that is persistent and keeps believing. We must remember that Jesus primarily ministered to the Jewish people but that he came to save all people. After Pentecost the Apostles will also include other peoples and nations in proclaiming the Gospel.