THE SYRO-PHOENICIAN WOMAN
Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30
By David J. Riggs
A. Jesus had taken His disciples across the northern border of
Israel into the coast of Tyre and Sidon.
1. This is the only time, that we know of, Jesus went outside
the borders of Palestine, except when, as an infant, he was
carried into Egypt.
B. Jesus probably wanted to rest a while and to give His disciples
some private teaching. Mark 7:24
1. Also, the hostility of the evil Jews was becoming more
2. Just prior to this, Jesus had told the Pharisees that they
had made void the word of God by their traditions.
a. They were greatly offended by His words.
b. Perhaps He wanted to escape everything for a while.
The time of His death was not yet near.
C. It was during this time that a certain woman makes a plea to
Jesus and, as a result, receives a great blessing.
1. Let's list some things we admire in this woman.
I. WE ADMIRE HER RESPECT FOR THE LORD.
A. This Syro-Phoenician woman, no doubt, had heard of the mighty
works of Jesus, and she set about to obtain help from Him.
B. She addressed Jesus as, "Lord, Son of David. Matt. 15:22
1. Jesus is indeed "Lord." He is the Mighty God, the
Everlasting Father, the King of Kings, and Lord of lords.
C. She knelt before Jesus. Matt. 15:25
1. The Greek word here for "kneel" means literally, "to
prostrate oneself in homage" and is often translated
"worship" in the N.T.
2. Mark's account, using different words, says, "She came and
fell at His feet." Mark 7:25
D. She also pleaded for mercy. Matt. 15:22
1. The demon possession in that day was something that was
exceedingly terrible, to say the least. Mark 9:14-29
II. WE ADMIRE HER FAITH.
A. The Canaanite woman started with at least three strikes against
1. She was Greek (a Gentile). Mark 7:26
a. Therefore, she was not of God's covenant people.
2. She was a woman of Canaan. Matt. 15:22
a. When the people of Israel conquered the land of
Canaan, God had commanded them to utterly destroy
b. The Israelites disobeyed, and eventually the pagan
influences they tolerated were their downfall.
c. By Jesus' day, the Jews had learned their lesson and had
no contact whatsoever with the Canaanites.
3. She was a Syro-Phoenician of the region of Tyre and Sidon.
a. In the latter days of ancient Israel, before the
Babylonian captivity, the people in the region of Tyre
and Sidon became bitter enemies of Israel.
B. When she came to Jesus, she is thrown three more strikes.
1. At first, Jesus ignored her. Matt. 15:23
a. Thus, she finds Jesus, the gracious helper and healer,
not answering her at all.
b. He did this, no doubt, to test her faith.
2. The disciples were annoyed by her persistence, and wanted
Jesus to send her away. They said, "Send her away, for
she cries out after us." Matt. 15:23
a. Jesus tells them, more or less, that He was not sent just
to Israel. He said, "I was not sent except to the lost
sheep of the house of Israel." Matt. 15:24
(1) The prophets declared that the Messiah would
bless, not only the Jewish nation, but all nations of
the earth. Rom. 15:9-12
(2) He would be sent to be a light to the Gentiles.
(3) The "other sheep" of John 10:16 refers to the
3. In the third strike, Jesus tells her, "It is not good to
take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
a. The "children" refers to the Jews ("the children of the
kingdom" - Matt.8:12), and the "little dogs" represent
b. Again, Jesus was testing her. The Jews considered the
Gentiles no better than dogs, and He is seeing how she
would react to these prejudices.
(1) Will her prejudices drive her away?
c. Many today, because they are prejudiced, will not listen
to the truth.
d. When they think that something offensive has been said
- a derogatory expression of some kind - they make a
C. In spite of these barriers, the woman responded in great faith.
She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs
which fall from their masters' table."
1. With ready wit, she replied with a statement which
demonstrated her faith.
2. She was saying, more or less, "If possible, I'll take the
crumbs of blessings."
3. She was keeping her place. She wanted, not the first
portion (the children's portion), but a portion still (the
crumbs which fall from the masters' table).
D. The woman persevered in her faith under what could have been
1. What is discouraging to some people, is not discouraging at
all to the strong.
2. Let us be numbered with the strong, and let nothing
discourage us from living the Christian life.
III. WE REJOICE WITH HER AS SHE RECEIVES HER REQUEST.
A. She, who had heard only the words of seeming contempt, now
hears words of gracious commendation: "O woman, great is
your faith! Let it be to you as you desire."
1. Mark's account says, "Then He said to her, 'For this
saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your
daughter.' And when she had come to her house, she found
the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed."
2. This is another of the "long-distance" healings which Jesus
3. She was the second Gentile to obtain a blessing because of
a. The other was the Centurion. Matt. 8:5-10
b. In the N.T., Jesus is said to have marveled on two
(1) Once at the Centurion's faith. Matt. 8:10; Luke
(2) Once at the Jews' unbelief. Mark 6:6
4. This Syro-Phoenician woman was greatly blessed; she
received the help she so desperately needed.
IV. LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS MIRACLE.
A. Respect for the Lord.
1. He is the Lord, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the
King of kings, and Lord of lords.
2. Let us have awesome respect for Him and His word.
1. We must be willing to take the lower seat.
2. Let us not be discouraged if we don't receive the
recognition or the praise we might deserve.
C. Persistence. Consider, again, the obstacles the woman faced.
1. There was, at first, the silence of Jesus.
2. The disciples asked to send her away.
3. When Jesus did speak, His words seemed to be very
4. None of this discouraged her, nor caused her to leave.
5. Let us be persistent in our request to God. God yields to
the might of faith and prayer.
D. Faith tested is a richer faith.
1. Jesus could have at once given her what she wanted, but He
2. She left with a fuller and richer faith in the end.
E. Blessings flow bountifully from the Lord.
1. The blessing of the gospel are for both Jew and Gentile.
2. There is a fountain open for all. Zech. 13:1; John 4:14
A. In Jer. 29:13 God declares, "...You will seek Me and find Me,
when you search for Me with all your heart."
1. Let us seek the Lord in faith.
2. Let us seek the Lord in humility.
3. Let us seek the Lord with all our hearts.
4. Let us seek the Lord with complete obedience.
B. When we do so, blessings will flow from the presence of the
Lord. Acts 3:19
Lessons Learned From This Miracle:
Respect For The Lord
Faith Tested Is A Richer Faith
Blessings Flow Bountifully From The Lord