The Lord and the Canaanite Woman

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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“In Matthew 8:5-7, the centurion asked the Lord to heal his servant and He offered to do so. However, in Matthew 15:22-26 the woman from Canaan asked for her daughter to be healed, but He answered her not a word. I assume both were Gentiles. Why did our Lord give one response to the centurion but another to the Canaanite woman?”

During our Lord’s time here on earth He was “a minister of the circumcision” (Rom. 15:8). That’s why He initially declined the Syrophenician woman’s request, saying, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). He would have responded to the centurion in the same way if it weren’t for what we read about him in the parallel passage in Luke 7:2,3:

“And a certain centurion’s servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die.

“And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant.

Here we see that rather than approaching the Lord directly as the Syrophenician woman did, this Gentile knew his place under the kingdom program and knew that he had to come to God through Israel. Furthermore, we know that he complied with the terms of salvation for Gentiles under the kingdom program, for Luke goes on to tell us how the elders of the Jews besought the Lord on his behalf:

“And when they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this:

“For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue” (v. 4,5).

Under God’s kingdom program for Israel, if a Gentile blessed the seed of Abraham, he could count on the blessing of God in return (Gen. 12:1-3). It was on these grounds that the centurion approached the Lord, through the elders of Israel, and it was on these grounds that he found the Lord eager to bless him.

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