Healing the Canaanite Woman’s Daughter – Did Jesus change his mind?

In Matt. 15:21-28 a Canaanite woman approaches Jesus and asks him to heal her daughter.

21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”
23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”
26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

It appears, after initially rejecting her request Jesus finally gave in to her nagging and granted her request. This may not be what happened.  To understand what took place, perhaps we should first consider the meaning of the term “sent”.

The term implies a few things.

1. There is a sender who has authority over the sent one.
2. The sent one is commissioned to accomplish a mission on behalf of the sender.
3. The sender authorises the sent one to represent him, to act on his behalf.

Jesus stated numerous times that it was the Father who sent him. Let me list these verses here:

John 5:23 “so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

John 5: 36 “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.”

John 6:44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.”

John 8:16 “But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.”

John 8:18 “I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”

John 8:42 “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.””

John 10:36 “do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘ I am the Son of God’?”

John 12:49 ” For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.”

John 14:24 “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

John 17:21 “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

John 17:25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me;”

John 20:21 “So Jesus said to them again, ” Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.””

The Father sanctified him (set him apart) and given him a task to carry out (commissioned him). The task was to turn Israel back to God and bring about the Kingdom of God. That was what Jesus had to keep before his eyes. Gentiles were secondary at that time, but the covenant was opened up to them in a big way after the crucifixion.

It would have been very strange from Jesus if he refused to help Gentiles. However, he was not interested to be a shop assistant. There were plenty of people that wanted help without actually exercising their faith in God and His sent one. Jesus was looking for faith, and whenever he found it, he never refused help.

He didn’t change his mind. He simply realised the faith of the Gentile woman and helped her just as he helped any other faithful.

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