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In Jesus And The Canaanite Woman, Jesus seems to be a racist. This sermon lesson teaches us to dig through the surface for real Scriptural understanding. 

Jesus And The Canaanite Woman

Harmony Of The Gospels Series-22, Mt 15:21-28 (also Mk 7:24-30)

For more information about Jesus see these books on the History of Jesus Christ

"Jesus then left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Gentile woman who lived there came to him, pleading, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter has a demon in her, and it is severely tormenting her." But Jesus gave her no reply—not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. "Tell her to leave," they said. "She is bothering us with all her begging." Then he said to the woman, "I was sent only to help the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep—not the Gentiles." But she came and worshiped him and pleaded again, "Lord, help me!" "It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs," he said. "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even dogs are permitted to eat crumbs that fall beneath their master’s table." "Woman," Jesus said to her, "your faith is great. Your request is granted." And her daughter was instantly healed."

After I had returned to the Lord, in 1989, we were attending a church where the pastor did a preaching series on the "Hard Sayings of Christ." This story was one of the prominent sermons, and it left everyone in that congregation wondering if Jesus was a racist. It will be a good lesson for us in how to understand the Bible.  For a little more perspective, here are a couple books on Jesus and the Canaanite Woman.  At the time, I had barely finished my first time reading the whole Bible. Even that little Biblical understanding left me very skeptical of the pastor's sermon. I'm tempted to speculate on the pastor's motive for preaching doubt in Jesus Christ, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I knew then, but couldn't prove Scripturally, that the pastor was full of something other than the Holy Spirit.

How do we know who to listen to? What do we do when someone says something we don't believe about God? What if that someone has an advanced degree from a prestigious seminary? What if they lead a church with 5,000 in weekly attendance? What if they're often on TV? What do we do if they head a major Christian denomination with 10 million followers? If we're like most people, sadly, we'll say, "Well, I guess they know more about God than me." But then, most people who profess to follow Jesus don't read and study the Bible on their own, they just swallow whatever someone with "credentials" says. Today, I'm gonna challenge you not to be like "most people". Instead, be someone who consumes His Word. Be someone who can't be lied to about God. Think for yourself!!!! Pray about what anyone tells you. Investigate for yourself if they're telling the truth. So many people crave to hear God speak to them directly, but wouldn't understand and couldn't tell if it was Him speaking because they don't study what He's already said.

We can't expect God to speak now if we don't care to know what He said before.

Taken out of context, these verses seem to say that Jesus considered anyone other than Jewish people to be "dogs". Out of context, He seems to have no care even for the feelings of a distraught mother, calling her and her daughter dogs, not deserving of the "children's" food. If you don't know it, yet, you will soon…taken out of context, the Bible can be made to say anything. That's how the "Church" justified slaughtering innocent Middle Easterners in the Crusades, something we're still paying for today, obviously. That's how Germany justified slaughtering over 6 million Jews during WWII. That's how the KKK justifies hatred, prejudice and murder of black people today. They take the Word of God out of context to entrap ignorant people into following. This wouldn't be possible if the people studied the Word for themselves. Let's take this same story into context and see what it says.

Cultural Context: An accepted "reality" in the region of that day was the separation between Jew and "gentile". This was due to over 400 years of religious "exclusion" by Israel. The "centurion" didn't want Jesus to lower Himself by entering his house (Lk 7). Gentiles were not allowed to go beyond a certain point at the Temple. They would not eat together (Jn 4). Not only was the custom accepted as it relates to Israel then, but for thousands of years before, for instance, the Egyptians would not eat with Jewish people in the days of Joseph (Ge 43:32). This, by no means justifies Jesus' comments, but it helps us understand that most people then were not hyper-sensitive to racial discrimination. What's interesting to note is how Jesus saw this discrimination in the Religious context.

Continued at Jesus And The Canaanite Woman-2

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