“An Interpretation and Explanation of Matthew 15:21-29,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

A Mother’s Faith Matthew 15:21-28 University Church of Christ

“An Interpretation and Explanation of Matthew 15:21-29,” by Andrew J. Schatkin

My dear friends and thinkers, I bid and ask you to join with me in another adventure of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and do not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, and political code words and hype can join in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know and grasp intellectual and honest discernment. Join with me in this voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in this world of confusion and do come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides tom us what is truth and facts.

Today, my colleagues of all faiths and thought streams, I will undertake the daunting task of the interpretation of and seeking an understanding of a passage of holy scripture found in Matt 15:21-29, the story of Jesus’s encounter with the women of Canaan. The verses are as follows: “And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And half of the Canaanite women from the region came out and cried, ‘Have mercy on me, o lord, son of David, my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.’ But he did not answer her a word and his disciples came and begged him, saying ‘send her away for she is crying.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him saying, ‘Lord help me’ and he answered, ‘it is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘yes lord yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘O woman, great is your faith. Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

How are we to understand the Jesus of this passage the Jesus of the parable of the good Samaritan and the story of the Centurion’s servant, the Jesus of the new religion of universal love, the Jesus who does not in other passages exclude non-Jews from the new dispensation? In short, what are we to make of this passage where Jesus seems to limit the message of the kingdom to the Jewish nation alone? Jesus did say and says here that his primary mission was to the house of Israel. And when this non-Jewish women of Canaan comes to him to have mercy on her because her daughter is possessed by a demon, he is silent. Is this the Jesus of love and mercy who when confronted by this needy woman is silent? Jesus consistently claims his mission was to call Jews back to god. But the non-Jewish woman speaks to Jesus and the Jewish messiah. Jesus states again his primary mission to the lost of Israel where he is not only silent; he states his mission was and is to the lost sheep of Israel; and when she came and knelt before the lord and asks for his help again he states that his mission of the Jews and it is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw into dogs. meaning to the non-Jewish population in the person of this Canaanite woman.

The woman responds that even the dogs get the crumbs from their master’s table and Jesus relents and recognizes her great faith and heals her daughter. This woman’s appeal and claim is based on her faith and acceptance of Jesus’s message. The woman accepts Jesus’s mission and asks for help as a gentile and non-Jew. The issue here is the distinction Jesus makes as to his primary mission to the Jewish nation or at least the lost of the Jewish nation and his willingness to recognize faith wherever it may and can be found. The woman is marginal; a woman alone in a man’s world and a non-Jew or gentile or essentially unclean. In his silence and initial responses, Jesus makes clear that he does not want to exceed his divine mission to gather Israel for the coming kingdom. He says surprisingly the children should be fed first of all; yet the woman responds that even the so-called dogs or gentiles can get the crumbs from the master’s tables. Jesus sees her faith and in his healing.

Jesus at first is somewhat puzzling if not harsh in this passage where he maintains almost to the end the primacy of his mission to the Jews and then once again he extends his original as he did many times to include non-Jews and the woman’s faith and appeals to his mission and message bringing about once again Jesus’s inauguration of a new and universal faith including Jew and Jew alike.

I do hope my readers and Christians and non-Christians alike have found benefit in my interpretation and explanation and analysis of this passage and in doing so I cautiously approach the words of the eternal god as he speaks to all of us from his holy word and from the mansions of heaven with all the angels and archangels and the holy trinity. I urge all of you to go back to the biblical text and read, reread and reflect on all the words of the eternal god and savior and redeemer.