PASSAGE: "Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 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.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly” (Matthew 15:21-28).
COMMENT: In absolute spiritual truth, the Power of God is a power of unconditional, unlimited Love that is equally available to all. It may be denied in human consciousness, but it is never withheld in spiritual truth. I believe that what we see in this striking passage from Matthew is Jesus learning this important truth himself—or at least recognizing that his initial human response to the Canaanite mother was not consistent with the truth.
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 complete sense if we understand that they show us a Jesus learning more about his divine nature and spiritual purpose 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.