Grace to the Unloved, the Unlovely, Marginalized, and Outcasts
Matthew Lesson #088
August 9, 2015
“Father, we’re thankful that we can gather, that we have Your Word to study, to reflect upon, and that it is through Your Word that You speak to us, and it is only through Your Word that You speak to us. And as we study Your Word, we are enlightened as to the realities of life, the realities of Your Creation, and the realities of Your grace.
Father, we need to constantly be reminded that we are to be mirrors that reflect Your grace and Your love and Your kindness to all of the world around us.
Father, as we study Your Word today, we pray that we might be challenged in terms of our own application of these principles. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
One of the distinctives of the Gospel of Matthew is the emphasis on the training of the disciples. But the training of the disciples is not just for the sake of learning the historical realities of that, but it is because this serves as a model, a pattern for what is to be repeated from generation to generation throughout the history of Christianity.
Matthew, more than the other three gospel writers, emphasizes what we call the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:19–20—that we are to go throughout the world making disciples.
This concept of disciple making and being a disciple maker, training others and just being a disciple, which means to be a committed student or follower of someone’s teaching, is emphasized in Matthew.
What we’ve seen as we have studied through Matthew is that Jesus is rejected corporately by the leadership of Israel represented by the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadducees in Matthew 12, as He has cast out a demon from a demon-possessed man.
They say that rather than this demonstrating His qualifications as the Messiah, He is actually doing this in the power of Beelzebub, a term of derision that was used to refer by them to Satan.
Following that, Jesus began to focus upon the training of His disciples. He began to teach them in Matthew 13 about the fact that now that the Kingdom had been rejected, the Kingdom offer had been rejected, the Kingdom would be postponed, and there would be an intervening age.
What the characteristics of that intervening age would be—that there would be those who have various responses to the gospel. The most effective response would be those who would bear fruit. But there would also be the activity of the enemy—the activity of Satan who would come in. So there would be a different seed than the gospel seed.
So these tares, false wheat by the analogy, would grow up amidst the wheat, and it would not be removed until the Second Coming when God would separate between the wheat and the tares.
As we moved from Chapter 13 to Chapter 14, we saw that Jesus was training the disciples in terms of how He is going to provide for them. He is going to provide what they need, and He is going to sustain them.
He’s going to provide everything for them, as illustrated by the feeding of the 5,000. He used the disciples immediately, as they passed out the bread and the fish to the 5,000 men and many more. There were probably 15–20,000 people there that were fed.
Jesus is teaching that He’s the source of spiritual nourishment, and that the disciples and the leaders of the church that would follow from generation to generation were to be dependent upon Him for the provision, the sustenance, the nourishment of the church, and we were to be intermediaries.
As we look at the history of Christianity, we see that one of the characteristics that distinguishes Christianity down through the generations is the men and the women who have gone out under difficult situations and circumstances to minister to those on the margins, those who are at the edge of civilization, those who are within the empire who are on the margins of civilization.
They have ministered to these marginalized. They have sacrificed their own comfort and their own privilege and their own positions in order to take the gospel to the four corners of the earth.
They have gone to take the love of God and to demonstrate the love of God to those who are unloved and rejected, to the outcasts, to the unwanted. They have taken the gospel to minister to the unloved and the unlovely, to those who the world condemned as worthless.
We know in the early church that Christians would go out, and they would find the abandoned daughters that Romans would take out. They didn’t want their child, so they would just leave them in the street to die.
The Christians would take these abandoned children into their homes and rear them and provide for them, to feed them.
They would take in the sick. They would minister to the slaves. They would provide for the poor, all for the sake of demonstrating the love of God to a lost and dying world.
Christians consistently took the gospel to the slaves, to the poor, to the lepers. And in the course of time, it was the influence of Christians who took the Judeo-Christian heritage from the Old Testament background (because Jews were among the first to have hospitals), but Christians took it to a new level developing hospitals and orphanages and charities to provide for the poor.
We have examples in recent centuries of the people like George Müller who founded an orphanage in Bristol, England to take care of these children that were just outcasts.
They were homeless, they were on the streets, and he would bring them in, feed them, clothe them, and teach them the Scriptures, give them the gospel and bring them to eternal life.
We have the examples of William Booth and his wife, Catherine, who founded The Salvation Army in the mid-19th century in order to reach the poor and the homeless of England with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have examples of missionaries like Hudson Taylor and C.T. Studd who went to China to reach out to the lowest levels of society in China, to take them the gospel, and to emulate for them the love of God as demonstrated through Jesus Christ.
C.T. Studd went on from China to go to India and later to Africa, in spite of the fact that doctor after doctor told him that he was about to die—that he did not have the health to go to Africa.
But he trusted the Lord, went to Africa, and had a significant ministry taking the gospel to those who were lost—the various tribes who had never before even seen a white man.
God gave him an additional 18 years in spite of the fact that he fought with heart problems and other health problems day in and day out. His comfort was irrelevant. The only thing that was significant was taking the gospel to those who desperately needed it.
One example we have in our own history—I thought I would bring up in light of the current controversy over the Confederate flag—was Thomas Jonathan Jackson.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson later became known as Stonewall Jackson and was a noted general strategist and tactician in the Confederate army. His escapades on the battle field are still studied in military academies around the world.
But one little known truth is that he was a committed Christian. He had a heart for the lost, and even though he was a slave owner, he conducted Sunday School for his slaves in conflict, in disobedience to Virginia law, which said that you could not teach slaves to read. He taught his slaves to read so that they could read their Bible.
Every Sunday afternoon he conducted a Sunday School class because of his commitment to make sure that his slaves and other slaves in his area would hear the gospel and receive the free gift of eternal life based on Christ’s death on the Cross.
Compassion for the lost, for those who are on the margins of society, for those who are unlovely, has distinguished Christianity from all other religions throughout its history.
It’s particularly noteworthy that this contrasts with the environment in which Christianity was born. It is an outgrowth of biblical Judaism, but it was shaped in the crucible of the conflict with Pharisaical religion, Pharisaical Judaism at the time of Christ.
The Pharisees rejected Gentiles. They wouldn’t talk to women. They wouldn’t enter into a Gentile’s home for anything, and they wouldn’t eat their food.
The legalism of the Pharisees had hardened them to the needs of the lost and those who were unloved and those who were in the dregs of society. They had completely lost any concept of the grace of God.
So this is the essence of what Jesus is teaching His disciples in this episode in Matthew 15:21–28, an episode that is recorded in only one other gospel, the Gospel of Mark.
It emphasizes to His disciples that they are to take the gospel to demonstrate the grace and the mercy and the love of God to those who are unloved and unlovable, those who are marginalized, and those who are the outcasts.
It is a demonstration of God’s love as we’ve seen in John 3:16, and often we miss the next verse, which is a great verse.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son”—His unique Son—“that that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
But the next verse goes on to say, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
The first coming of Jesus Christ focused upon grace to the lost—to those who were desperately in need of salvation, those who were on a one-way trip to the Lake of Fire, like every human being.
It was a demonstration of Christ that by viewing Him, by looking upon Him, you could see the character, the attributes of God the Father.
So we learn this. Jesus is teaching this to His disciples at this particular time.
In Matthew 15:21 we read, “Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.”
Mark adds to this a little bit. He says, “From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and He entered a house and wanted no one to know it. But He could not be hidden.”
Now a couple of things we ought look at here is that it tells us that Jesus went out from there. “From there” is really talking about His ministry that we’ve seen at the end of Chapter 14, where He was ministering in the area of Ginosar, in the region of Ginosar, the area where He lived in Capernaum, which is just about five miles north up the coast of the Sea of Galilee from Ginosar.
He leaves there, and He goes to this area of Tyre and Sidon. We’ll look at that in just a minute. But there are a couple of words here that we need to focus on because they’re significant in relation to the event itself that we are witnessing here: which is the deliverance, the casting out of a demon from this woman’s daughter.
We see two of these important words at the very beginning here in normal everyday usage and everyday context, which in word study, helps us to understand what the word means when we transfer it to a specific kind of situation like demon possession.
“Jesus went out” is the Greek word EXERCHOMAI. EXERCHOMAI means to be in somewhere and to leave it, to go out from there.
We’re told in the Mark passage that when He arrived in Tyre and He entered a house. This is a similar word, same root, EISERCHOMAI. It means to go into someplace.
Now I’ve put both of these Greek words up on the screen, and I underlined the root word, which is ERCHOMAI, which means simply to come or to go.
That prefix at the beginning is a preposition “EX” which means “to go out.”
So EXERCHOMAI means that you’re in someplace, and you go outside.
EISERCHOMAI means to go into a place, to enter into a place.
We see that this basically says Jesus is at one location. He is in the Galilee area. He goes out of Galilee, and He goes into the territory of Tyre and Sidon, and He goes into a house, from outside into a house.
This is going to be important because these are the most technical, the most detailed specific words that we find in demon-possession passages, and it tell us what demon possession is—that a demon enters into a person, and when they are delivered or healed, the demon comes out of the person.
There’s demon influence, which is the influence of demons from outside of a person. This is usually mediated through the world system around us, the culture around us.
But demon possession is when a demon, an evil spirit, enters into the body of a person and takes control of their bodily functions.
We have situations in the Scripture where children are thrown into fire, people are blind, or they are deaf, or they’re unable to speak. These physiological symptoms sometimes relate to the control of a demon.
So these words are important. We’ll come back to that before we finish.
This is a map showing us the location. Jesus is down here where this red dot is located, in Capernaum. He had crossed over into this area near Bethsaida where he had fed the 5,000.
He left to walk back to Capernaum to spend some time alone, but the disciples got on their boat, and they tried to make their headway—remember—across the lake and encountered a storm at night, and they were not making any distance at all.
Jesus came walking to them in the wee hours, the early hours of the day somewhere between three and six, probably right around dawn, where they could see Him.
We have the episode with Peter walking on the water. Then they got back into the boat and came to Ginosar, located right about here.
Then there was the episode of the many who came to Him and were healed. Demons were cast out, and…
… then there’s a confrontation again, the first part of Chapter 15, with the Pharisees.
He left there, and because the situation is getting a little intense for Him, He goes out of the Jewish territory, and goes to the area of Tyre and Sidon.
It is important to understand this as He goes to this region, as to why this is significant. These were the two most prominent cities on the Mediterranean coast, of what is now called Lebanon.
In the ancient world, this was known as Phoenicia. These two cities had a terrible history in terms of the fact that they were the centers of the false religion and the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth.
The worship of Baal involves some of the most horrible things that we can imagine—and some of the most horrific things that have ever been done in the name of religion.
They practiced cultic prostitution. They were a part of what was known in the ancient world as the fertility cult where in order to somehow motivate the gods and goddesses to give the agricultural areas productivity, men would go to the temple and have sexual intercourse with the temple prostitutes in order to immolate the concept of fertilization and to encourage the gods to fertilize the fields—to bring rain and sunshine so they would be productive.
It was the early form of the modern Christian heresy of the “health and wealth gospel.”
But not only did they practice this kind of sexual immorality in the name of religion, they also would sacrifice their infants in the fires of the gods to placate the wrath of the gods.
This was some of the most horrible religious activity in the ancient world. Tyre and Sidon represented all of these evils.
If anyone in Israel heard of reference to Tyre and Sidon, they would instantly think of this.
Tyre was mentioned over 50 times in the Bible, usually in context of judgment. Four entire chapters are given over to God’s judgment on Tyre. In one chapter, Satan is represented as the king of Tyre. Tyre represented the most notoriously evil religions of the ancient world.
In the eyes of the Jew, no rabbi would ever take his students there. There’s nothing good there, and of course, the inhabitants are all gentiles. Just going there would make you ritually unclean.
And going to a place like this would cause great conflict as well with the Pharisees who would reject the whole notion that Jesus could be from God if He would go to such a place as Tyre and Sidon.
Furthermore, as a rabbi you would never talk to a woman. Talking to a woman would not be allowed. Rabbis would go out of their way to avoid having any kind of social intercourse with a woman—much less a gentile woman.
That was of course seen as well in the episode where Jesus stopped at the well in Samaria outside of modern Nablus, or ancient Sychar, near ancient Shechem, and talked to the woman at the well. This was unheard of in Jewish culture at that particular time.
So we see that Jesus honors women. He has a reference for women. He talked to the Samaritan woman. He ministers to this particular woman who’s mentioned in the next verse.
In Matthew 15:22 we read, “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.’ ”
Now there are a couple of things that we need to note about this, and the first is what I’ve highlighted there in blue—is the Greek word there “behold.” In our idiom we would say “pay attention.”
Now when we look at the parallel passage in Mark, Mark introduces this with an explanatory clause, but we see that Matthew is making a real point here in relating this episode. He says, “Now pay attention to this! A woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him.”
Matthew calls her a woman of Canaan, a Canaanite woman, whereas Mark simply refers to her as the woman who is Greek.
Some translations say Greek. The original says HELLENIS, which would mean Greek literally, but often that was used by Jews to describe Gentiles.
She is specifically said to be a Syrophenician woman. Again that locates here within this history, this horrible history of the evil religions of the Syrophenician area.
But Matthew specifically calls her a woman of Canaan. This is a term that would be quite pejorative. It would almost rank on level with using a racial epithet today.
We, under political correctness, have made any kind of racial identification as slang. We used to call the Brits the “limeys” and the French the “frogs,” and various other terms that we would use. We would call the Germans the “Krauts” and the Japs the “Nips” and things like that. That was all socially acceptable back in the 30s and the 40s, but now if you use terminology like that, it’s considered an egregious sin.
I think that’s part of Satan’s ploy to attack Christianity, because if you buy into politically correct values, then you look at language like we find in this particular episode, and you think, “Well, Jesus would have to be a sinner. Look at what He called this woman—He called this woman a dog!” He’s not calling her a bitch, He’s calling her a dog.
He is referring to, and Matthew is referring to this woman as a Canaanite, which would really be a pejorative term in that particular culture because it would bring to the mind of all the Jews all of the horrible influences that the Canaanite religion had had in destroying the spirituality of Israel.
They had compromised with the Canaanite religions, and the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth was clearly part of that. The Israelites had pushed the Canaanites out of the Promised Land. They had pushed them up north, and then their influence returned from the north, especially under Jezebel, the wife of Ahab who was a king of Israel in the north.
When Jezebel married Ahab, she brought with her hundreds of the priests of Baal and Ashtoreth into the Northern Kingdom.
That became the official religion, and they began to persecute those who were worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
That was the whole episode in the conflict between Elijah and the priests of Baal, as we see in 1 Kings 15.
We’re told in Numbers 13:29 that “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
So the Canaanites dwelt north and northwest in the area of Phoenicia.
But this woman is different. There’s something distinct about her because when she approaches Jesus, she doesn’t talk to Him as if He’s just another religious leader.
She calls upon Him as the “Son of David.” She’s got some Biblical understanding. She recognizes who He is as the Messiah.
This term the “Son of David” is used nine times by Matthew to refer to Jesus. It is a Messianic title.
It is first used in Matthew 1:1 that “this is the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.”
Then in Matthew 9:27 we saw the two blind men who approached Jesus and cried out “Son of David, have mercy on us.”
We’ll see two more blind men from Jericho approach Him in a couple more chapters, calling upon Him to restore their sight, and again addressing Him as the Son of David.
Then in Matthew 12:23, after Jesus had cast a demon out of the demon-possessed man before the Pharisees accused Him of doing it by the power of Beelzebub, the crowd says, “Could this be the Son of David?” And they say, “No! Not at all! He did this in the power of Beelzebub.”
So this title the “Son of David” is a title that represents His deity.
There are six titles of Jesus’ sonship used in the gospels. I’m going to put them up here on the screen.
We are reminded that in Hebrew, the idiom “son of” can refer to somebody’s parents literally. Jesus was called the Son of Mary, the son of Joseph—that refers to His literal parents—but it also indicates characteristics.
For example, in the Hebrew in the Old Testament, they referred to the sons of Eli. We’ve been studying this in 1Samuel 2.
The sons of Eli were called the sons of Belial. That’s usually translated as they were corrupt. That’s what the idiom meant, but they’re called the sons of Belial. They represent the characteristics of Satan. Belial was another term of derision used to refer to Satan.
Someone who’s foolish would be called a son of a fool. Someone who’s a murderer would be called the son of a murderer.
Those usually aren’t translated that way in the Old Testament. They’re usually translated in terms of their sense. So you’ll see somebody is called the murderer, but in the Hebrew it says they’re called the son of a murderer.
1. So when Jesus is called the “Son of God”, that emphasizes His deity, not that He was born by God, but that He is fully God.
2. “Son of Adam” would refer to His lineage. He is fully human. He is a direct descendant of Adam, as indicated in the genealogy of Luke.
3. He’s called the “Son of Abraham” because He is a descendant of Abraham, indicating that He’s fully Jewish.
4. He’s called the “Son of David”, a Messianic title. He’s a descendant of David, but it’s emphasizing that He is the Davidic King and the Messiah.
5. “Son of Man” emphasizes His true humanity.
6. And “Son of Mary” indicates that He is the Son of Mary. He was born of the Virgin Mary.
The Canaanite woman calls upon Jesus as the Son of David to have mercy upon her. Here’s this Gentile woman. She’s unclean. And she approaches Jesus.
I mean she’s an unclean pagan, representing this whole area of demonic religion, and yet she recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah, and she calls upon Him to have mercy upon her.
Why? Because her daughter is severely demon possessed.
If you note the parallel in the Mark passage, it says that her daughter had an unclean spirit. These are two different terms that are used to describe demon possession.
In this slide—I’ve put them on the board—the first word to be demon possessed represents a present passive participle DAIMONIZOMAI in the Greek.
This is where a lot of conflict develops because it’s not a specific word. It’s not a technically specific word. It simply means to be acted upon by a demon. But in what way?
Today there’s a lot of controversy over this. If you want to find out more details you can look at my book on spiritual warfare, but this word, though it’s general, and it could refer to demon influence, it doesn’t because in every case that it’s used, it’s always qualified by other more specific terminology.
Here we see that it is also related to the phrase “to have a demon.” There’s something more personal and more specific about that phrase.
That’s the phrase that Mark uses down here, and we see that it’s only used a couple of times in Matthew, in Matthew 10:1 and Matthew 12:43.
But it’s used in numerous passages in Mark, as well as in Luke. That is their preferred term to use for demon possession.
Mark 1:23, 26, 27; 3:11, 30; 5:2, 8, 13; 6:7; 7:25; and 9:25, as well as Luke 4:33, 36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7.
These all mean “to have a demon,” but how do you get rid of the demon, and how did you get a demon? That’s what’s important to understand.
What is clear in the next couple of verses is that especially in the parallel in Mark 7:25, 26, the woman understands the correct procedure.
She kept asking Jesus in Mark 7:26, and this indicates that she doesn’t ask Him once or twice—she keeps talking to Him. At first He doesn’t pay any attention to her, which seems rather rude, and I’ll address that in a minute. She keeps asking Him to cast the demon out.
It’s the Greek word EKBALLO, and there’s that preposition EK again.
We saw it with EXERCHOMAI—to cast, to come out.
EKBALLO means “to cast out.” That means it must be in something in order for it to come out of something.
It’s not the Greek word EXORKIZO, where we get our word “exorcism.”
Never refer to what happens in the Bible as an exorcism. The word is used in the Bible, but it is only used of the practices of pagan practitioners in their attempt to cast out demons.
It’s used of one Jewish exorcist in Acts, but it is never used of what Jesus and the disciples do. They cast out demons.
Only pagans try to exorcise a demon.
So exorcism is not a biblically correct activity for Christians. In fact it’s not even an issue for Christians today. But in the Bible only Jesus and the disciples, and one or two assistants of the disciples, cast out demons.
We’re told in Matthew 15:23 that Jesus doesn’t answer her. It seems rather rude, but there is a reason for that. Jesus doesn’t answer her. His disciples also show a certain measure of being somewhat callous of her, and they think she’s an irritant.
She keeps asking for Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter, and this is irritating the disciples. They come to Jesus, and they say, “Well, just send her away! She keeps crying out after us, and she’s becoming a nuisance. She’s annoying us, and we need to get rid of her.”
The word urge there is in imperfect tense in the Greek, which means this is something they were continuously doing. She continued to ask Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter, and they continued to urge Jesus to get rid of her.
He gives an answer that is very interesting. He’s not answering her, but he’s answering them as they say this. He makes the point.
He says, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
He’s really not answering because He is setting up the situation. He’s giving her an opportunity to expose what she knows.
Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because He’s giving us the opportunity to further trust Him and to demonstrate what we know. Rather than giving us an easy out, He’s giving us an opportunity to trust Him and to think more deeply about Scripture.
Jesus is emphasizing the fact that as the Son of David, as the Messiah, He was sent to the House of Israel—not to the Gentiles—just as He initially sent the disciples out only to the House of Israel and the House of Judah.
He’s emphasizing this is His mission as the Son of David.
She should know this. She’s calling Him the Son of David. She should recognize that His mission as the Messiah is first and foremost to the Jews in fulfillment of the Old Testament covenants and other passages.
For example, in Jeremiah 31:10 Jeremiah says “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,”—that is the Gentiles—“and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’”
It is the role of the Messiah to be specifically focused on Israel as Israel’s shepherd.
This is also seen in Isaiah 40:11, “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.”
This is talking about the role of the Messiah toward His people, Israel.
Now Jesus uses this same imagery in John 10, but there, He also talks about the fact that He has sheep that His disciples do not know of. He has sheep of another flock, and that’s a reference to the Gentiles.
In Hosea 2:23, a passage that’s quoted by Paul to refer to Gentile conversion, Hosea says (God’s speaking), “Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ ”—Paul applies that to the Gentiles—“And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”
God has always had a plan for the Gentiles from the moment He called Abraham. He said it was through Abraham that all the nations would be blessed.
So He is setting up the scenario here that there is a proper order of events: to the Jew first, but also to the Greek, and also to the Gentile.
Then in Matthew 15:25, we read that “she came and worshiped Him.” That means she bowed down, and she’s submitting to His authority, recognizing Him as the sovereign God. She says, “Lord, help me!” She is desperate.
Can you imagine those of you who are mothers to have a child that is tormented day in and day out by a demon? Possessed by a demon? Every single day there’s not a thing you can do. You feel absolutely helpless and hopeless.
Then you hear that this Jewish rabbi who has been casting out demons in Israel is coming into your town. Can you imagine how she must have just run as fast as she could to find Him and to throw herself at His feet to beg Him to rescue her daughter who’s going through this horrible time of demon possession?
But notice how He answered. I want you to understand this. This on the surface seems like Jesus is being a little callous and not very sensitive to her situation. But He’s using this as a teaching moment related to His role to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
She begs him, “Lord, help me!” And He answers and says, “It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
Now what in the world is He talking about? He’s just called her a dog.
This is not a compliment! But this is how the Jews refer to the Gentiles. They had this pejorative term, and they referred to them as dogs. And in most cases the dogs were just wild dogs.
They weren’t the household pets that we think of, but that’s the word that is used here. It’s a diminutive form of the word for dog, and it refers to a household pet, to a house dog—one that lived in the house, possibly even a puppy.
He says it’s not good to take the children’s bread. The children are Israel. The bread is the revelation of God. It’s Jesus the Messiah Who’s the Bread of Life.
And He says it’s not good to take the children’s bread—that is referring to Himself as the Bread of Life—and throw it to the little dogs, to the Gentiles.
But listen to her response. See, He sets her up so that she can reveal the doctrine that’s in her soul, and her understanding, her proper understanding of the role and dynamic that’s going on here.
She says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
She’s appealing to His grace. She says, “Yes, I understand that Your primary mission is to the Jews, and Your primary mission is as the Son of David as their Messiah, but You have a plan and a purpose for Gentiles also, and the Jews come first, but the Gentiles come second.”
It’s not that they’re ignored and irrelevant. It’s that things just have to be in the proper order, and it is the Jew first and then the Gentiles. And we get the overflow of Your grace after it’s given to the Jews.
So Jesus responds in Mark 7:27. We read, “But Jesus said to her, ‘Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.’ ”
So Jesus is emphasizing the proper order, the proper procedure in terms of the gospel.
Then we come to Matthew 15:28, “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith!” He praises her.
You see, He’s not just ignoring her because He’s calloused or He’s not sensitive, but because He’s trying to give her the opportunity to demonstrate her maturity—to demonstrate what she knows about the Word in her soul, and to let that answer come out so that this will be a viable teaching moment for His disciples.
Then He praises her, and says, “Woman, great is your faith!” You have understood a principle that my disciples are ignorant of, that the Jews are ignorant of, most of the believers are ignorant of. You have demonstrated this. So He praises her for her faith.
Then He says, “Let it be to you as you desire.” And we read “her daughter was healed from that very hour.” So without going to her home He heals her, casts out the demon.
Mark gives us some more specifics. He says, “For this saying go your way”—Jesus said—“the demon has gone out of your daughter.”
That’s this word on the left EXERCHOMAI. Like Jesus went out of Capernaum, the demon comes out of the daughter.
Then we’re told, “When she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.”
Now what we should note about both of these Greek verbs is they’re both in the perfect tense, which means when Jesus said that the demon has gone out, it’s already a completed action.
He’s not saying the demon is now going out. He’s saying the demon has already left. It’s a completed past action with consequences that will go on forever. We’re emphasizing the fact that it is completed. I’ve already cast the demon out, and she has been delivered.
But for understanding demon possession, see this little diagram:
EISERCHOMAI means to go into. The preposition EIS means toward or into, and that would be to go inside something, and so the demon goes into a person.
EXERCHOMAI means to go out of the person. The verb that describes that action is EXERCHOMAI.
Just a couple of examples. Just everyday uses of EISERCHOMAI:
After Joseph is told that he can come back to Israel with Mary and the baby, he came into the land of Israel. He came out of Egypt and went into the land of Israel.
Matthew 6:6, Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room,” which means to go inside of something.
Matthew 8:5, “When Jesus had entered Capernaum.” He was outside and He went into.
So that establishes what this means.
When we look at passages related to demon possession, for example, like Matthew 12:45 and its parallel, Luke 11:26, it talks about the demons, “They enter and dwell there.”
Both places use that. That’s what demon possession is; when the demon goes inside.
In Mark 5:12–13, when Jesus casts the demons out of the demoniac who has the legion of demons, the demons say, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter into them.”—EISERCHOMAI.
And in Mark 5:13, it says, “Then the unclean spirits went out” —EXERCHOMAI—“and entered the swine.”
Luke uses the same terminology. “The many demons had entered into him”—EISERCHOMAI. They entered in, He permitted them to enter into the pigs, into the swine. And in Luke 8:33, the demons went out of the man, and then entered the swine.
It becomes very clear that this terminology is “to go into” and “go out of,” EISERCHOMAI and EXERCHOMAI is technical language to help us understand the mechanics of demon possession.
That’s important because if you mess up those words, you really mess up your whole understanding of demonology and Satanology and the angelic conflict.
In John 13:27, we’re told that Satan entered into Judas. That’s the same term.
Now there are some people who say that Judas was a believer, and that this isn’t demon possession. You may have heard that.
A person who believes that should be flunked in Greek 101 because that kind of exegesis just leads to really sloppy theology.
If the word everywhere else is a technical term for demon possession, then it has to be a technical term for demon possession right here in John 13:27. Otherwise, you really mess things up.
Judas wasn’t a believer. Judas was indwelt by Satan.
Believers can’t be possessed by Satan because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
That word “temple” is a technical term. It’s the NAOS, the inner Holy of Holies.
It’s not the HIEROS. Anybody could go into the HIEROS, the broad temple precinct.
But only someone who is sanctified by God could go into the Holy of Holies. That tells us that no Christian can be demon possessed.
Now what this episode reminds us of is the fact that we as disciples are to take the gospel to everyone.
Too often we find Christians who say, “Well, you know they’re not in the right social category. They’re dirty, they’re calloused, they’re homeless, they’ve rejected everything, they stink! Once they clean themselves up a little bit and get a job, then I’ll take the gospel to them, but not right now.”
But this isn’t the history of Christianity, and it doesn’t reflect the grace, the love of God.
Jesus was training the disciples and teaching us that we are to look at the world through the eyes of God—that no one deserves the gospel. But we are sent on the basis of God’s love and mercy to give to the undeserving the grace of God and help them understand the gospel.
Jesus is teaching the disciples and us that we are to love the unlovely.
We are to minister to those who are on the margins of society.
We’re to take the gospel to everyone without distinction, to every single human being because every human being, no matter their social status, no matter how they smell, no matter how they dress, no matter how badly or how great they’re educated, every human being is in the image of God and needs to hear the gospel.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study this passage this morning, to be reminded of your grace—that Jesus died for all without exception and without distinction. He died for every single human being. He was the perfect substitute for all sin. As He died on the Cross, He paid the penalty for every single human being, and that is the message that we take.
That is the greatest expression of our compassion. But often we need to accompany that with other ministries to take care of other problems: financial problems, health problems, the need for food and shelter and clothing. This has been demonstrated throughout the ages by Christians involved in taking the gospel to people in great need.
Father, we pray that anyone listening today that has never trusted in Christ as Savior would take this opportunity to do so. If you believe Jesus Christ died on the Cross for your sins, at that instant you receive the perfect righteousness of Christ, you’re declared justified, and you are given the gift of eternal life which can never be taken from you. In that instant, just by trusting in Jesus Christ alone, you have eternal life. You’ll become a new creature in Christ with a new life in Him.
Now Father, we pray that you’ll challenge us with what we’ve learned today. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.”