The Shocking Words of Christ

| January 9, 2015

Editors' note: This series analyzes perplexing passages of the Bible. Previously in this series:

It is often said—and rightly so—that Jesus is the hero of every text of Scripture. Yet when we first encounter him in Matthew 15:26, Jesus looks anything but heroic. Instead, it appears that he is failing to be missional, and being entirely rude in the process. Consider the context:[1]

  • Jesus, in “the district of Tyre and Sidon” (Matt. 15:21), is approached by “a Canaanite woman” (v. 22)—a perfect opportunity for cross-cultural gospel witness.
  • The woman implores Jesus to heal her daughter, who is “severely oppressed” by a demon (v. 22). Who could refuse such a request?
  • The distraught mother addresses Jesus with titles that demonstrates respect, awareness of his Jewish heritage, and trust in his power: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David” (v. 22). Jesus’s response is stony silence; he does not speak “a word” to her (v. 23).
  • When the disciples ask Jesus to send the woman away, he says, in essence, “I’m here only for needy Israelites.” He seeks…

To read the rest of this article, visit