Past Issues

Jesus -- the Guru #34

E. Jesus’ Attitude toward “Outsiders”

The Jewish people felt they were special. They were God’s chosen people. Of course, God had chosen them, but not to separate them from the world. Rather, God called them to be “the light of the world.” You will recall that this same title and responsibility are given by Jesus to His disciples (Mt. 5:14). They are the “New Israel.”

Read Matthew 15:21-28 once again.

The Faith of the Canaanite Woman

21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

27“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.


Matthew notes that this encounter took place outside of Israel (v. 1). At Jesus’ time, the Jews tended to look down on all “Gentiles” (non-Jews). They were part of those rejected as “unclean.” Therefore, a pious Jew would never travel into Gentile territory. Yet, we see that this is just where Jesus often took His disciples.

We see the Jewish attitude toward Gentiles reflected in the disciples’ reaction to the Canaanite woman’s plea for help (v. 23). Jesus senses this woman’s character and strength. He uses her to teach a great lesson to His prejudiced

disciples. Jesus plays along with the prejudice at first, even using the traditional Jewish derogatory term for Gentiles: “dogs.” (v. 26) Then He holds up this non-Jew as a great example of what it means to be His disciple. What was Jesus trying to teach His disciples?

Jesus treated all people the same. He judged people by their character (remember the “outsider” Roman centurion, 8:5-13). He went to their territory to help them (8:28, 15:21). He had no concern about being made “unclean” (15:10).

Are people made to feel like outsiders by your religious leaders? Have you ever been made to feel that way? What does Jesus say to you?

In summary, if you followed Jesus’ teaching, would you be opposed like Jesus was in His day? Which of these areas would bring you into conflict with religious leaders and attitudes?:

  • Attitude toward “superior” people?

  • Attitude toward wome?

  • Attitude toward “sinners”?

  • Attitude toward the suffering?

  • Attitude toward “outsiders”?

Looking forward to hearing from you today,


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