Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon- possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. Matthew 15:21-28
What right do we have to go to Jesus for help? Not only are we, for the most part, not descended from Israel, we are poor miserable sinners undeserving of God’s grace and mercy. We have no standing of our own, no basis to expect God’s Son to hear us or to help us!
As we see from Matthew 15 and Mark 7:24ff., that did not stop a Greek-speaking Syrophoenician woman from coming to Jesus for help and deliverance for her daughter who was demon possessed. She was a Gentile from the Phoenician part of Syria and not of the House of Israel, and Jesus was sent first to His own people; but she still came, asking not to take away what rightly was for the people of Israel but to eat of the crumbs which fall from Israel’s table.
This woman’s daughter was demon possessed, something we hear little of in our day though it likely still exists but is diagnosed with other names. It appears, in such cases, that the devil or one of his evil spirits takes control of a person’s body, often seeking to destroy both body and soul. She begged Jesus to cast out this demon and make her daughter whole again. And Jesus granted her petition. The demon was cast out and her daughter was made well.
While we may not be bodily possessed by the devil, the truth is that each and every one of us comes into this world under the control and sway of the evil one. Ever since the fall of Genesis 3, people are born into this world “dead in trespasses and sins, in which [they] once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1,2; cf. Psalm 51:5). The Bible tells us “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). And the Bible tells us that “the god of this age has blinded [those] who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Only Jesus, God the Son, can free us from our spiritual bondage and reveal Himself to us as the Redeemer of the world. Only Jesus can raise us up from spiritual darkness and death and free us from the control of the devil (cf. John 8:23-24; 34-36).
We are not, for the most part, of the House of Israel. Nor are we deserving that Jesus should deliver us from our bondage to the devil. But when we humbly come to Jesus in faith, what happens? God delivers “us from the power of darkness and convey[s] us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
The Bible tells us of Jesus: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people ” (Hebrews 2:14-17).
The only-begotten Son of God took on human flesh and blood that He might obey God’s law in our stead and offer up Himself as a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins — all that we might obtain mercy and forgiveness through faith in His name.
And God “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” and He brought us to trust in Christ after that we “heard the word of truth, the gospel of [our] salvation” (Ephesians 1:9,13). “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7; cf. John 5:24-26).
God graciously called us to faith in Christ Jesus through the gospel. And, when we come to Christ in faith, believing He atoned for our sins and the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:1,2), He forgives us all our sins, delivers us from the bondage of the devil and gives us new life in Him! Jesus makes us whole.
Have mercy upon us, Lord Jesus! We are unworthy sinners deserving only of wrath and punishment, but we look to You and Your sacrificial death upon the cross for mercy and forgiveness. Amen.
[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]