“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”Mark 7:27-29 NIV
“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
This story is one that has troubled many people. A Gentile woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon came to Jesus, asking him to drive out the demon. Jesus’ response to her seems harsh. In Jesus’ day dogs were not pampered pets. Instead, they were mostly scavengers and were unclean animals. “Dogs” was also a derogatory term that the Jews used for Gentiles. So Jesus’ response to this woman who had come on behalf of her daughter seemed to be insulting and dismissive.
But was it? It seems out of character for Jesus to be insulting towards those who entreated him for help. And we do have recorded other instances where Jesus helped Gentiles (Matt. 8:5-13). I think it is much more likely that Jesus was testing her. And, if so, she clearly passed that test.
She did not argue with Jesus, demanding her rights, like many might do today. She acknowledged that she was unworthy. But she pled for Jesus to show mercy to her and her daughter. Even the dogs under the table can eat the fallen crumbs. And, because of the spirit with which she came, she received what she asked for. I am thankful that Jesus continues to show mercy and bring healing to those who acknowledge their unworthiness and call out to him for the life that only he can give.