What About Manifestation Gifts?

I have a respected friend who is on staff at a church where the pastoral leadership has differing interpretations on the miracle or sign gifts that were a part of the early church’s experience. This will eventually cause the congregation to personally decide where each member stands on the issue.

When I was in seminary, I had a friend who was a part of an Apostolic Church, where speaking in tongues was the norm, and EVIDENCE of a believer having the Holy Spirit. They even had small group classes on “how to speak in tongues” during the week, like you can coach the “gift of the Spirit” out of someone… but I digress.

The question is whether or not these types of gifts (tongues, miracles, word of wisdom or knowledge) are a part of the church today. Those who say YES are considered charismatic (embracing the grace gifts, charis meaning grace), and those who say NO are considered cessationists (those who believe tongues and healing have ceased, or stopped at the end of the apostolic age). So, is cessationism biblical?

Most cessationists believe that, while God can and still does perform miracles today, the Holy Spirit no longer uses individuals to perform miraculous signs.

The Bible shows that miracles occurred during particular periods for the specific purpose of authenticating a new message from God.

  • Moses was enabled to perform miracles to authenticate his ministry before Pharaoh (Exodus 4:1-8).
  • Elijah was given miracles to authenticate his ministry before Ahab (1 Kings 17:1; 18:24).
  • The apostles were given miracles to authenticate their ministry before Israel (Acts 4:10, 16).
  • Jesus’ ministry was marked by miracles, which the Apostle John calls “signs” (John 2:11). John’s point is that the miracles were proofs of the authenticity of Jesus’ message.

After Jesus’ resurrection, as the Church was being established and the New Testament was being written, the apostles demonstrated “signs” such as tongues and the power to heal. “So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers.” (1 Corinthians 14:22a, a verse that plainly says the gift was never intended to edify the church).

The Apostle Paul predicted that the gift of tongues would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). Here are six reasons that it has already ceased:

  1. The apostles, through whom tongues came (Acts 2:1-4), were unique in the history of the church. Once their ministry was accomplished, the need for authenticating signs ceased to exist.
  2. The miracle (or sign) gifts are only mentioned in the earliest epistles, such as 1 Corinthians. Later books, such as Ephesians and Romans, contain detailed passages on the gifts of the Spirit, but the miracle gifts are not mentioned, although Romans does mention the gift of prophecy. The Greek word translated “prophecy” means “speaking forth” and does not necessarily include prediction of the future.
  3. The gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Israel that God’s salvation was now available to other nations. (1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11-12).
  4. Tongues was an inferior gift to prophecy (preaching). Preaching the Word of God edifies believers, whereas tongues does not. Believers are told to seek prophesying over speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1-3).
  5. History indicates that speaking in tongues ceased. Tongues are not mentioned at all by the Post-Apostolic Fathers. Other writers such as Justin Martyr, Origen, Chrysostom, and Augustine considered tongues something that happened only in the earliest days of the Church.
  6. Current observation confirms that the miracle of tongues has ceased. If the gift were still available today, there would be no need for missionaries to attend language school. Missionaries would be able to travel to any country and speak any language fluently, just as the apostles were able to speak in Acts 2.

Regarding the miracle gift of healing, Scriptural observation tells us that healing was associated with the ministry of Jesus and the apostles (Luke 9:1-2), and we see that as the era of the apostles drew to a close, healing, like tongues, became less frequent. The Apostle Paul, who raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12), did not heal Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), or even himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). The reasons for Paul’s “failures to heal” are

  1. The gift was never intended to make every Christian well, but to authenticate apostleship.
  2. The authority of the apostles had been sufficiently proved, making further miracles unnecessary.

The reasons stated above are evidence for cessationism. According to 1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1, we would do well to “pursue love,” the greatest gift of all. If we are to desire gifts, we should desire to speak forth the Word of God, that all may be edified.

[ Read more at www.gotquestions.org ]

When Your Faith Falls Short

Today we are going to continue in the series for the month, called Encounters with Jesus. This message begins with the transfiguration, one of the more spectacular events in the life of Jesus, and involves three of his closest men. Then, what follows the transfiguration story is of particular interest because hopefully we will identify with this man who had a son with an unclean spirit. So turn to Mark chapter 9 where we can find a little background to our encounter with Jesus.

The Preliminaries– Mark 9:14-16

  1. The Disciples – Mark 9:14-15 – The disciples were not allowed to stay on the mountain, holding on to that experience. In the valley below was hurting and suffering mankind. A world of need lay at their feet. When Jesus and the three disciples reached the base of the mountain, an animated discussion was going on among the scribes, the crowd, and the other nine disciples.
  2. The Discussion – Mark 9:16 – Perhaps they were debating the reason WHY this boy had a demon.  Maybe the scribes were taunting the disciples about their failure, calling into question the authenticity of their conversion, or their commitment to Jesus. As always, Jesus is the one who steps in to solve a problem. As soon as Jesus appeared, the conversation broke up and the crowd rushed to HIM. Jesus then inquires, “What are you discussing with My disciples?” Then the crowd starts telling him what has been going on.

The Particulars– Mark 9:17-29

  1. The Victim– Mark 9:17-22
    1. The Helpless Father – Mark 9:17a – A distraught father excitedly told Jesus about his son, who is possessed with an unclean spirit.
    2. The Hopeless Son– Mark 9:17b-18a, 20-22
      1. The Source of his Problem – Mark 9:17b – he is demon-possessed, which makes him mute.
      2. The Symptoms of his Problem – Mark 9:18a, 20 – the evil spirit cause fits and convulsions, seizing him, throwing him to the ground, foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth and he stiffens out. This must have been a pretty horrible sight.
      3. The Span of his Problem – Mark 9:21-22 – he has been possessed since childhood. This was a father searching for relief, for his son and for himself. He says, “IF YOU can do anything, take pity on US and help US.” We find TWO people in need in this story..
      4. The summary of his problem – The disciples had failed and this man was NOT SURE that Jesus could do anything for them. I like the honesty of this father, admitting that he had doubts and unbelief. How often have you allowed doubts keep you from totally trusting Jesus, for your salvation, but also for your future? We often are not convinced that Jesus actually has our best interest at heart. We believe that WE know better and don’t have the confidence that following God will lead to fulfillment, joy, peace, healing, restoration or contentment.
    3. The Hapless Disciples – Mark 9:18b-19 – the disciples are miserable and unfortunate, they are unable to help this father and his son, and Jesus appears to be frustrated with them, “How long shall I put up with you?” It’s like, “My time is short and you’re not catching on. I’m not going to be with you for much longer.” Jesus had given the disciples the authority to cast out demons (Mark 6:7, 13) so no wonder Jesus was grieved with them. So what about YOU? How often do we grieve God by not using the spiritual resources that he has already given to us? We try to do things in our way and in our own timing, with self-effort rather than Spirit-led power. No wonder we epic fail in our walk with God, because we don’t really have the power of God working for us. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us today. We are not second class followers of Jesus; he is not holding back on us… but we often hold back from HIM.
  2. The Victor– Mark 9:23-29
    1. Jesus Reassures the Father– Mark 9:23-24
      1. The Strength of Faith – Mark 9:23 – “If you CAN!? All things are possible to him who believes.”
      2. The Struggle for Faith – Mark 9:24 – the father declares, “I DO believe, help me overcome my unbelief.”  He is basically telling Jesus to help him when his faith falls short. We all want to believe, yet we find ourselves filled with doubt. We hate this inward, unreasonable contradiction, yet seem to fight it in vain. How often is the statement of the father what we cry out to God? The positive part is that when we cry out to God, he does not scold, but reassures the father.
    2. Jesus Rebukes the Spirit – Mark 9:25-26 – As the crowd was gathering, he wanted to take care of this quickly and commanded the spirit to come out of him and not return. In dramatic fashion, the demon causes a scene and then the boy was still as a corpse, and the people thought he is dead.
    3. Jesus Restores the Son – Mark 9:27 – Jesus takes the boy’s hand AND RAISED HIM.
    4. Jesus Reveals the Secret – Mark 9:28-29 – Later when Jesus was alone with His disciples in the house, they asked Him privately why they hadn’t been able to help the father and his son. Jesus said that certain miracles require prayer and fasting.

The main lesson for this miracle is the power of faith to overcome the enemy (Mark 9:19, 23-24, Matthew 17:20). Why had the nine disciples failed? Perhaps they had been careless in their personal spiritual walk and neglected prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29)? The authority that Jesus had given them was ONLY effective if exercised by faith, and cultivated through spiritual discipline and devotion.

It could be that the absence of Jesus, who had gone up the mountain with Peter, James and John, and the fact that they were left behind, had dampened their spiritual passion and had diminished their faith. THAT too is a danger for us today. When we neglect gathering for worship and small group interaction, our spiritual passion WILL diminish, and we will lack faith to make a difference in the lives around us. The sad fact is that these disciples had no clue why they were so powerless. When people slip away from the church and from God’s presence during worship, they wonder why their lives lack power and passion for God’s kingdom.

Not only had this failure embarrassed the disciples, it robbed Jesus of the glory he deserved and gave the enemy an opportunity to criticize God, (his ability and his willingness), and the people of God (who are Ambassadors for Christ). Remember that it is our faith in him that glorifies God (Romans 4:20).

Which of us is not faced at times in our Christian service with a sense of defeat and frustration? We have labored tirelessly and conscientiously, yet there has been no evidence of the Spirit of God working in power.

Perhaps these disciples had been arguing about ministry styles or the proper way to help this boy and his father, all the while helpless to do anything that brought relief. Maybe this is a challenge for each of us to focus on strengthening our faith. Is it your desire to ask that God help you when your faith falls short?

I believe that our faith will be strong in the valley ONLY after we have experienced God’s glory on the mountaintop. Oswald Chambers says that,

We are not built for the mountains; those are for moments of inspiration. We are built for the valley, for ordinary life. When you think about it, it is spiritual selfishness that wants repeated moments on the mountaintop. God calls to us to make a difference in the lives of people, down in the valley. It is in the valley where we grow and learn. The mountaintop is not meant to TEACH us anything, it is meant to MAKE us something (like becoming holy, grateful, and dependent). We LEARN only in the valley.

As we participate in the life of the church, we hope to SEE God’s glory, here on the mountaintop, but we are never supposed to LIVE for His glory there. We are to make a difference in the valley.

As we close for today, now is the time to make decisions that will affect the rest of your life, don’t put it off another week.

Let’s pray: This is the time that we confess to you that our faith often falls short, but right now, today, we declare and submit to you our request for you to help our unbelief, help us when our faith falls short. I pray that no one will leave this place with unfinished business with God. All things are possible with God, and we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. As people are making decision to make a difference in the valley, Father, we ask for your power to experience a life well lived for your glory and kingdom. AMEN

NEXT STEPS: You’ll notice two questions at the bottom of your outline, which are designed to make this lesson practical. How are you going to respond?

  1. How will you evaluate the connection between your mountaintop experiences and life down in the valley?
  2. How will you exercise and increase spiritual disciplines in your life?
    1. Prayer
    2. Fasting
    3. Bible reading
    4. Solitude
    5. Scripture memory

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[Go to Part 1, The Transfiguration] [See the Video]

Natalie Grant Sings Held

This Natalie Grant song has powerful lyrics; most of us can identify with the emotion of praying for healing or rescue and it did not come as we expected. God promises to go through the hurt with us. Many of the faithful in the Old Testament died before realizing the promise, but remained faithful until the end (Hebrews 11).

Forgiveness and Grace

I’ve come to understand that Justice is getting what one deserves, mercy is not getting what one deserves and that grace is getting something that we definitely do not deserve. It is unmerited favor, something that only God can do. The closest we can come is probably being a parent; we do things for this little person that they do not deserve, but we do them for no other reason than because we love them. If we desire to become more like Christ (Romans 8:29), we must learn to grow in forgiveness and grace.


Forgiveness is the final form of love. — Reinhold Niebuhr

The world can do almost anything as well as or better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace. — George McDonald

I rejected the church for a time because I found so little grace there. I returned because I found grace nowhere else. — Philip Yancey

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way. — Sara Paddison

Top 10 Ways to Grow in Grace:

  1. Be quick to acknowledge sin and guilt.
  2. Live in the confidence of your divine ownership.
  3. Easily receive God’s forgiveness that invites you into intimacy.
  4. Stop trying to earn God’s favor when you already have it.
  5. Reject false guilt; the enemy’s favorite lie.
  6. Take every opportunity to overlook the failures of others.
  7. Call attention to people’s potential, not their faults.
  8. Speak the truth in gentleness and love.
  9. Don’t pretend to have your life all neatly together.
  10. Be quick to forgive and slow to offend.

Be Freed from Your Suffering

This lesson is about love being expressed through healing.

At the Heart of it all Today: Jesus uses his divine power to heal the demon-possessed and the physically ill, extending his ministry to Gentiles and other outsiders.

Memory Verse: Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. — Mark 5:34

Key Term (Unclean): The Bible refers to demons as unclean spirits, Leprosy and other illnesses made them unclean. Yet Jesus did the unthinkable and touched unclean people.

Jesus is remembered as one of the greatest teachers who ever lived, and proof of the durability of his teachings is that we are studying them and seeking to live by them after all these centuries. Miracles were always occasions for more teachings, and some of his most remembered sayings were spoken in the context of these miracles.

My Name is Legion (Mark 5:1-20):

  1. Along the shore of the Sea of Galilee were areas with limestone caves, many of them used as tombs. People believed that evil spirits resided in isolated places, especially where there were tombs. Those who study demonology have observed that possessed people often have greater strength. No one had been able to subdue or bind this man, yet when he sees Jesus from a distance he immediately fears him. He calls Jesus “Son of the Most High God, a title given by the angel in Luke 1:32.
  2. The man is a Gentile and Gentiles generally used “Most High God” to refer to the Jewish God. Here, the demon is trying to show some of its own power by showing that it knows who Jesus is. It appears that evil spirits possess insight that humans do not have. These demons realize they are dealing with the Son of God, not some charlatan.
  3. To know someone’s name is to have some power over him. The demon answers, “Legion,” which may explain the man’s bizarre behavior, running around naked, cutting himself with stones and frightening others. “My name is Legion” may show the split personality often shown by the possessed, who were in some sense themselves but also under control of demonic forces. Legion also conveyed the idea of something armed and dangerous; Jesus is not confronting one demon, but several.
  4. But another interpretation is possible; Jesus only refers to one evil spirit (Mark 5:8). The demon may in fact have revealed that his name was ligyona, the Aramaic word for soldier. His actual reply to Jesus might have been something like, “My name is Soldier, and there are many of us,” meaning several servants of Satan.
  5. In Luke’s version of this story, the demons begged Jesus repeatedly “not to enter the Abyss” (Luke 8:31).
    1. “The Abyss” could refer to the place of the dead or the final destination of Satan and the demons. They know they will end up there eventually, but in the meantime they ask for some other fate, even if it is being sent into a herd of pigs. These demons may fear they will be the “first wave” of demons that get sent into the abyss.
    2. This also may be behind what the demon-possessed man says to Jesus in Matthew’s version of the story: “‘What do you want with us, Son of God?’ they shouted, ‘Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time (Matthew 8:29).
  6. The question of how moral it was for Jesus to “send” the demons into the poor pigs is moot, since he only allowed the demons to do as they wished. The real purpose of sending the demons into the pigs was to give the sick man a definite sign that the demons were no longer inside him.
  7. One human being was worth more than a herd of swine. To the people in the story, the crime was the economic loss, not the feelings of the pigs. This is another case of misplaced priorities. They would have preferred that the demoniac stay as he had been, so long as their livestock were not bothered. This does not show these Greeks in a very favorable light. Jesus was extending his ministry to the Gentiles, which was commendable, and this demoniac was the first Gentile convert.
  8. The locals begged Jesus to leave their region. Perhaps they feared Jesus would use his power to do even more frightening things. It is interesting to contrast the behavior of these Gentiles with the faith of the Gentile centurion in Luke 7:1-10. Some Gentiles responded positively to Jesus, others did not.
  9. The man is now “clothed and in his right mind.” The Greek word used means “in his senses.” The reaction of the locals to seeing this is fear. They had apparently grown accustomed to his bizarre behavior, but when they see him changed they are fearful.
  10. The man wants to be with Jesus, but he tells him to go and tell his friends of the power and mercy of God. The man becomes the first missionary throughout the Gentile region of the Decapolis.
  11. Jesus tells the man to return to his home and tell people what “the Lord” has done for him. Jesus is not just some wandering healer but the Lord, something these pagans understood even if Jesus’ own people did not.
  12. Jesus was in a situation that, by Jewish standards, was horribly unclean. They were among Gentiles, there were pigs and tombs nearby, and they encountered a raving, naked man possessed by unclean spirits. No respectable Pharisee or scribe would have set foot in such a place, or have anything to do with this guy. Jesus was willing to get down and dirty with people. He was truly Immanuel, “God with us,” and not just God with us in a tidy residential neighborhood, but in the unclean world where people suffer greatly and long for compassion.

Who Touched Me? (Mark 5:24-34):

  1. Since medicine in ancient times was mostly a matter of guesswork and luck, people had varying opinions of doctors—they saw them all as quacks and charlatans, or as being sent from the gods.
  2. Here is a situation that would make almost any reader uncomfortable: a woman with an embarrassing and long-term ailment wishes to be healed, but the healer is surrounded by a crowd. Her flow of blood was even more embarrassing among the Jews because it made her ritually unclean, according to Leviticus 15:25. For twelve years this “untouchable” woman was living among the Jews.
  3. Mark says the woman touched Jesus’ robe (Mark 5:28-29). Matthew and Luke refer to the hem, fringe or tassels of the cloak. The tassel was one of the most recognizable signs that a man was a Jew. They were mandated in Numbers 15:38-39: “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: Throughout the generations to come you must make tassels for the hems of your clothing and attach them with a blue cord. When you see the tassels, you will remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do.”
  4. How did Jesus realize that “power had gone out of him?” Not sure, but in some sense healing required power and effort on Jesus’ part. We can’t comprehend that it “took something out of him” and the disciples did not grasp it either, as seen by their response when he asked “Who touched me?” This was one of countless cases of the disciples not understanding Jesus, and it never occurred to them that Jesus’ miracles somehow drained him.
  5. The woman is “trembling with fear” when she comes forward, perhaps expecting a reprimand. Instead, Jesus refers affectionately to her as daughter.
  6. Jesus would be unclean just by touching her but He doesn’t mention it. He understands the nature of this woman’s problem and does not seek to embarrass her in front of a crowd.
  7. Mark reminds us that Jesus was surrounded by a crowd. He seems to have sensed not the touch, but the unseen faith of the woman. The woman herself sensed that she was free of her twelve-year-long bleeding.

Touching a Leper (Mark 1:40-44):

  1. The term “leprosy” referred to a broad category of skin ailments, not just actual leprosy. Some situations could have been like psoriasis or ringworm—minor for us, though harder to cure in ancient times. It is clear that the lepers Jesus healed had the more severe forms, not just minor skin diseases. The cleansing rituals in Leviticus 14:2-3 (actually verses 1-32) must mean minor skin ailments, since true leprosy was never cured.
  2. People with actual leprosy—called Hansen disease—typically lost fingers and toes over time, then eventually an entire hand or foot. This kind of leprosy, which began with a loss of sensation in parts of the body, took a long time to progress with the person literally dying by inches.
  3. Pitiful as lepers were, we do not see much evidence of compassion for them. The way the disease disfigured their faces and bodies made them repugnant to others. Some of the rabbis obsessed with keeping their distance from anything unclean, but Jesus was “filled with compassion.”
  4. Mark’s telling of this incident is startling since a leper was not supposed to walk up and speak to anyone. He was supposed to shout out “Unclean, unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45) so people would know to keep their distance. This leper was bold by approaching Jesus with his request. Jesus gave him confidence that He could accomplish what no one else could. The fact that he knelt shows he sensed an authority in Jesus, perhaps even sensed his divinity.
  5. Jesus touched the leper—No sin or affliction puts us beyond the touch of Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke report this miracle very early in their Gospels, a sign that Jesus had the power to heal the most horrible physical affliction of all.
  6. After the healing, Jesus tells the man to go show himself to the priests, as Leviticus 13:3, 9 demanded. Once the man was pronounced cured, he would make an offering to God (Leviticus 14). The leper did not do as Jesus told him: “Instead he went out and began to talk, freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer from everywhere” (Mark 1:45)
  7. Part of Jesus’ ministry was to try to change their wrong conception of  Messiah. This is why he asks the people whom he helps to tell no one. In contrast to the many false Messiahs that sprang up over the centuries, Jesus does not call himself Messiah publicly—nor did he encourage anyone else to call him by the title.

Such Great Faith (Luke 7:1-10):

  1. Most Gentiles detested and mocked the Jews, but some admired the faith and morality of the Jews.The Jews distinguished between Gentiles who were “God-fearers” (those who attended synagogue services and showed some interest in the Jewish way of life) and the more committed “proselytes” (who were circumcised and baptized, plus offered sacrifices). The person had to undress and be baptized, by full immersion, in the presence of three Jewish witnesses. At this point he would have been considered spiritually clean and in God’s eyes equal to the Jews. The centurion in this story, would have been a God-fearer since a proselyte would have been able to have a Jew under his roof. Technically, a God-fearer was still unclean in Jewish eyes.
  2. Aside from being a Gentile, the centurion was in the service of Rome, reason enough for many Jews to despise him, but many of the Jews of Capernaum were very fond of this particular Gentile. Certainly his contribution to the building of a synagogue impressed them. Roman soldiers were often stationed far from home, and some of them mixed well with the locals, marrying and developing friendships.
  3. This centurion had no doubt that Jesus could heal the servant. He knew that according to Jewish practice, a devout Jew like Jesus could not enter his house. The fact that he saw himself as not “fit” to receive Jesus in fact made him precisely fit. Feeling his own unworthiness made him worthy.
  4. In Matthew’s version of this story Jesus says to the centurion, “I will come and heal him” which was eye brow raising to the Jews. Jesus had already proved (by touching a leper) that the distinction between clean and unclean meant nothing to him.
  5. In the Roman armies, a century was a military unit of a hundred men, with sixty centuries making up a legion. A centurion commanded a century.

Eating the Children’s Crumbs (Mark 7:24-30):

  1. It is no accident that Mark and Matthew place this story immediately after the controversy with the Pharisees about what is “clean” and “unclean.” Jesus leaves Galilee with its Pharisees and their foolish regulations and enters Gentile territory, the region of Tyre and Sidon, called Phoenicia. For a short time, Jesus is distancing himself and the disciples from the critics and the crowds.
  2. Matthew mentions her ethnic origin perhaps to remind the readers that this woman was a descendant of the people whom the Jews thought of as the worst sort of pagans. It is ironic that the woman addresses Jesus as “Son of David,” a title for the Jewish Messiah, while just before this the Pharisees were rejecting him and his teachings. Jesus makes it clear here and elsewhere that his mission is to save the people of Israel, yet at various points He encounters Gentiles who have more faith than the Jews. As with the centurion whose servant he healed, Jesus here does not turn down the heartfelt request of a Gentile.
  3. Was Jesus aware that He himself had Canaanite blood? In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, one of the ancestors listed is Rahab, the harlot of Jericho at the time of Canaan’s conquest by the Israelites (Joshua 2). Matthew included Rahab in the genealogy, and included another Gentile, the Moabite woman Ruth. Matthew doesn’t miss a chance to spotlight Gentiles who put their faith in God.
  4. Jesus says to the woman, “First let the children eat all they want.” “First” is important because he is not telling the woman that only the children (the Jews) will be fed, only that the children come first. Since she is a mother asking for the healing of her own child, she understands priorities.
  5. Jews did often refer to Gentiles as dogs; and a dog was a familiar term of contempt for a shameless woman. But the word used by Jesus in this story means “little dogs” or “house dogs,” something at least more appealing than the street mongrels, which were despised.
  6. In these days before silverware, eating was with the hands, and people often wiped their fingers on scraps of bread and tossed them to the house dogs. The Jews were throwing away the spiritual food Jesus offered them.
  7. The woman was willing to admit herself to be a “dog,” one who would eat table scraps. Granting her request could only have heightened her joy when he told her the child was healed. As in the case of some other healings, the child is made well without Jesus having to be personally present.
  8. The chief moral aspect of the woman is that she lifts herself up by humbling herself. Admitting herself to be a “dog” who will be content with the crumbs that fall from the table, her faith makes her worthy of sitting at the table. Her behavior illustrates one of Jesus’ own sayings: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). The woman wanted a miracle not for herself but for her child.
  9. This is one of numerous times that Jesus responded to the plea of a distraught parent. Jesus had not entered Gentile territory to preach or minister to the Gentiles, but He could not avoid doing good. Even among the descendants of the despised Canaanites, Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 49:22: “1 will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples.”