“Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith!” (Matthew 15:27-28)
Three times, a Canaanite mother asked Jesus to heal her daughter. And three times, Jesus denied her. But she persisted, and he finally relented and granted her prayer.
So was Jesus testing this mother’s faith? Or did she really change Jesus’ mind?
On the one hand, if Jesus was really just testing her, why would Matthew leave out that important detail? So maybe he really did change his mind. This makes sense when we widen our scope of Scriptures. So many stories speak of people “changing” God’s mind. Think of Abraham negotiating with God over the fate of Sodom. Or think of Mary’s conversation with Jesus at the wedding of Cana. Though his hour had not yet come, the wine had run out! And, of course, there’s the parable Jesus taught of the persistent widow changing a judge’s mind.
But on the other hand, Jesus is the Son of God! Rightly did the disciples say about him, “You know everything” (John 16:30). By his very breath, the universe was called into being. How could we ever hope to persuade him? He declares, “As I have resolved, so shall it be,” and “the Lord of hosts has planned; who can thwart him?” (Isaiah 14:24,27). Surely this must have been Jesus’ plan to draw out this mother’s remarkable faith.
What a mystery is born when human faith meets the sovereignty of God! Yes, God is completely in control. And yes, he bends low to answer our prayers and draws us to work out his plan alongside him. He even lets us be bold enough to come to him, confident that he honors our desires. Of course, we’ll never understand this fully until we see Jesus face-to-face. But for now, revel in this mystery. Let it tug on the corners of your mind and open your heart to how wondrous are the ways of God. Gaze in awe of the Lord, who has the wisdom to weave the lives of so many free people into his plan for the whole world.
“Lord, you inspire awe in my heart. Who is like you?”
Numbers 13:1-2, 25–14:1, 26-29, 34-35
Psalm 106:6-7, 13-14, 21-23
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne