In this story, a Canaanite woman has approached Jesus asking Him to heal her demon possessed daughter. At first Jesus is kind, but firmly tells her, “I’ve been sent to help the Jews.” But she’s undeterred with her request, so He then says to her, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” For most, that kind of rebuff would have stop them…but not her! Yes, she thoroughly understands what Jesus is saying, but she also knows that He’s the only one who can save her daughter. It’s by her tenacity and tremendous faith…a faith that Jesus recognizes in her, that her request is granted.
As Christians, we are to be imitators of Christ. We are to follow His lead in how to deal with people we come in contact with daily. This requirement of impartiality towards others is displayed throughout the Bible…making it very clear, “God does not show favoritism.” Partiality and bias are easy traps to fall into, unless we make a conscious decision to follow the pattern of Jesus instead. For if you boil favoritism down…all you get is the ugliness of bigotry and prejudice.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
I used to be a long distance runner…and during those hours on the back roads, I’d yell at God. At the time, I was in the middle of a very personal hell and wanted God to know just how scared and powerless I felt. In my head, I knew the Lord was well aware of the situation…but in my heart, I needed to verbalize the pain. Baring my soul out loud to God was a way I could express feelings I had never spoken to anyone…no one. Putting words to pent-up fear and terror helped me gain perspective. By listening to my own words of anguish, my plight was somehow validated within me. Yes, I yelled at God, but He quietly listened to every word I spilled out…every inner most feelings I couldn’t tell anyone else. For God was there and He listened…He didn’t judge or admonish…He listened.
The crowds were getting larger and larger that followed Jesus and His disciples. In these verses, many have crammed themselves into a private home to hear Jesus teach. No wonder Jesus’ family sent word into the house they were outside wanting to see Him…there was no way they could get into the packed house! When Jesus asked this question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He wasn’t showing disrespect, but rather saw it as a teachable moment. The story goes on in verses 34-35, ” Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s Will is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus wanted the crowd huddled around Him to see that they were just as highly regarded to Him as part of “The Family of God” as His own kin were.