PASSAGE: "Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, 'Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon. But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel'" (Matthew 15:22-24).
QUESTION: My husband struggles with feeling that he is not as valued or important to God as the Jews. He's half Afghan and half German and due to some of their history and current situation with Afghanistan, he seems to feel inferior. This verse along with the story about the woman and her demon-possessed daughter seems to be part of what supports this belief for him. Thank you for your interpretation.
COMMENT: Ironically, I think many Jews feel that, from a Christian perspective, they are "not as valued or important to God." In truth, the Power of God is a Power of unconditional, unlimited Love that is equally available to all. And I believe that what we see in this striking passage from Matthew is Jesus learning that truth himself. Many traditional Christians believe that Jesus was always the same throughout his human incarnation—always loving, always perfect, always fully aware of his role as the Christ of God in expression. In fact, though, the Gospels only make sense if understand that they show us a Jesus who learned more about his divine nature as his ministry unfolded—a Jesus who was as fully human as the rest of us, which means capable of error, and of learning from those errors how to more fully express the Christ. Here he does, indeed, at first refuse to help the Canaanite (non-Jewish) woman whose daughter is troubled. At that point his understanding of his own spiritual purpose is that he is to confine his ministry to his fellow Jews. However, the mother's persistence forces him to see things differently. He realizes that she is right, and he is wrong. Or rather, that he is limiting his own spiritual power unnecessarily. From that point on, he no longer worries about whether the people seeking his help are Jews or not. He realizes that they are all children of God, and that is enough. God is not a being who picks and chooses which people to love. God is the very Power of infinite, eternal Love. If it is ever denied or withheld, it's because we're doing that—not because God is.