From there Jesus set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
What pops out at you in this story? Is there anything that makes you go “hmm….” or “huh?” or “hey!!!!” Are you reminded of any other stories–whether in the Bible, in literature/movies/music/TV, or in your own life? As you read, do you hear any music in your head?
This woman is calling out to Jesus from the depths of her distress, and Jesus answers her with a derogatory racial slur. How does that make you feel, as a follower of Christ? If you were the woman, how would you respond? What do you think of how she does respond?
Jesus has been calling people to repent and believe, to trust that the kingdom of God is at hand. This woman answers his call…but she wasn’t who he expected to answer. How do we respond when people we do not expect show up to answer a call?
This can be read as a story in which a quick-witted woman is a conduit for the Holy Spirit, opening Jesus’ eyes and calling him to a broader, more generous ministry than he had envisioned for himself. He clearly changes his mind about who he is here for…how does that affect your understanding of Jesus, that he learned and changed throughout his life and ministry?
What are our lines in the sand that the Spirit might be calling us to erase, what circles are we called to broaden? Are there situations when we are like the woman? Like Jesus?
What do you hear as the good news in this text? What do you hear as a challenge? What might this passage have to say to our community today?