Sunday 21st February 2021
Crumbs under the table!
A few days we have a special meal to celebrate the removal of Alison’s plaster. A slip on a Boxing Day walk resulted in a fractured & dislocated ankle. Ouch! To mark the occasion of her slow and gradual return to mobility, I cooked a recipe I had not done for several years. Fresh Halibut coated in breadcrumbs and cooked with banana. (Recipe available on request!)
Breadcrumbs are a useful ingredient in cooking. A great way of using up stale or left-over bread they can be used for coating and stuffing and binding. They also occur a few occasions in the Bible and are used to great effect to teach lessons about faith. Here is one example.
The Faith of a Canaanite Woman
Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
This Bible passage is full of irony! In the original context, the Canaanite’s were not part of the nation of Israel and therefore considered outsiders and ‘people of reproach’. Also, within Jewish culture dogs were viewed as unclean animals and therefore never allowed inside the house. Most gentile (or non-Jewish) households would have had one or more small dogs, often used to catch vermin, and fed from scraps or crumbs of bread that fell from the table. However, whatever cultural and religious barriers existed, nothing was going to stop the women for getting the help her daughter needed. Her tenacity and determination resulted in her daughter being healed. However, the real lesson here is that Jesus didn’t come to save one special group of people, but everyone. Even you!
Reflecting on this passage, one American writer makes this comment: This passage should really cause us to think in the church today. Have we become Pharisaical in our attitude, trusting in our salvation while at the same time rejecting the will of Jesus? Are we playing church, holy on the outside appearance but full of dead man’s bones within? The question to us today is “Who belongs to the House of Israel?” A similar question is “Who are the lost?” No one can claim church membership as a birth right. One comes to membership in the House of Israel by recognizing their drastic need of salvation, that we are totally unworthy of Jesus. We must fall at His feet and ask for grace as much as this woman did. She fell and confessed Jesus as the Son of David, another title for Christ.
May God the Father,
who does not despise the broken spirit,
give to you a contrite heart.
who bore our sins in his body on the tree,
heal you by his wounds.
May the Holy Spirit,
who leads us into all truth,
speak to you words of pardon and peace.
And the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.