Q: “Jesus came to ramson all of us, so my question is why did Jesus appear indifferent to the woman of Canaan in Matthew 15:22-28 who sought Him on behalf of her daughter who was vexed with a devil?”
A: No doubt there may be various explanations for Jesus’ response. This incident is an interesting exchange between the Canaanite woman and Jesus. First of all, the woman recognized who Jesus was. He was/is Lord which points to owner and that He is the Son of David, which points to His royal association, position, and inheritance in relationship to the Jews.
Let me take this one step further. As Lord, He was first and foremost responsible to the Jews and as the Son of David He was King of the Jews. Because of His identification to the Jews, it would be obvious that He came for the sake of the Jews and that as a Gentile this woman had no rights to approach Him, no part in the Jewish inheritance, and no expectation that He would even respond. This became clear because of the reaction of his disciples and Jesus’ response, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Her response to Jesus’ statement is very interesting. We are told in Matthew 15:25, “Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.” Notice, she dropped the term, “Son of David,” and addressed Him simply as “Lord,” and worshipped Him. In true worship you are submitting to the authority and ownership of the one you are worshipping. After all, you can’t refer to someone as Lord unless you recognize that the person is indeed Lord. It is also important to compare what she said to Romans 10:9-10 which says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” And, what did this woman ask Him as Lord? “to help her.”
People assume that once they appeal to the Lord in desperation, He will naturally do it, but this is not always so. Sometimes it is followed with a test of the person’s faith to see if one’s understanding is simply a desperate plea or if it is a heart revelation. Keep in mind, the Lord will not test unless He is ready to enlarge someone’s faith. The faith of those who pass such tests will become a witness to those around them. Here comes the test, “It is not meet (fit) to take the children’s bread, (blessings) and to cast it to dogs“ Matthew 15:26. (Parenthesis added.)
Gentiles were often referred to as “dogs” by the Jews. This woman clearly understood what Jesus was saying, but she possessed a heart revelation of the goodness of God. After all, Proverbs 12:10 says, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
At this point the woman’s faith is surely being tested. True faith has a confidence toward God’s goodness, it has endurance that enables it to be tested, and wisdom to discern and grab hold of the hidden nuggets in the midst of confusion and hopelessness. Consider her response, “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:27).
It is important to note this woman’s faith gave her courage, as well as caused her to be persistent in her pursuit, and because she placed her faith in the LORD of lords, she would not be denied. She was banking on God being God. It is because of our faith as believers that we know when it comes to God, even His crumbs are a “full meal deal.” He never does anything half-way and what action He takes will be complete and satisfying.
This brings us to another important point in this situation. What was on the line, the demon-possessed girl or the woman’s faith? I think Jesus’ response answers this question, “Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28).
God can heal anyone, but His greatest mission is to enlarge our faith so that it can become a witness to others and an avenue to show His greatness. You might ask why I came up with my conclusions. It is because, how many people have to stop and ponder this event every time they came to it in Scripture? How many of us ponder Jesus’ response because it did not make sense, and ended up admiring the tenacity of this woman’s faith that would not let her be deterred by even what seemed to be the indifference of the Son of God? What witness are we left with, the fact that her daughter was healed or that Jesus told her that her faith was great?