Jesonian: Don’t Call Me a Dog… January 18, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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It is rather doubtful that Jesus was able to grow up in a small village, surrounded by Jewish tradition, without absorbing a little of the local prejudice.

I didn’t.

I was born in Central Ohio and spent my youth there at a time when civil rights was being argued in the country. So as an adult, when I went out and tried to become open-minded to ethnic groups, I found it very awkward, my attempts riddled with clumsiness.

I made mistakes.

My heart was right, but the verbiage and training in my mind were tainted by false concepts.

So … when a Greek woman–a Gentile–asked Jesus to heal her daughter, the young Nazarene tried to ignore her. “Maybe she’ll just go away.”

She didn’t.

So then Jesus tried to explain to those around him, his faithful, why he was ignoring her–because her kind of people were beyond his scope of outreach.

She persisted.

So finally he told her directly, “I can’t help you because you’re a dog. A Gentile dog. And it wouldn’t be right for me to assist you and take my energies, which are reserved for my people, to help you.”

This is what we call an impasse. We have many of them in our society today. They happen when prejudice comes face-to-face with insecurity and defensive attitudes, generating volatile situations.

But in our story, this woman is not insecure. She doesn’t scream, “Don’t call me a dog! How dare you, you Jew bigot!”

Or even, “You’d better damn well respect me!”

For you see, screaming an objection at bad training is wasting words on the deaf.

Instead, she reasons:

“Okay. You think I’m a dog. But don’t the puppies get to eat the crumbs that fall underneath the table from the children’s plates?”

An amazing answer.

A metered response.

And even though she caught Jesus on a bad day, when a little too much of his childhood prejudice was creeping through, she also happened to be talking to someone who was moved by faith.

The Good Book says Jesus told this woman that because of her answer, the daughter would be healed. Insight: Jesus made a mistake but didn’t get stubborn about defending it.

Let us never forget that it also says:

  • Jesus grew in wisdom.
  • That’s right. He wasn’t born with all of it.
  • He learned obedience. Just like us, it didn’t come naturally.
  • He was moved with compassion. It wasn’t infused into him by his divine mission.
  • And he was touched with our infirmities.

He realized that such an intelligent, well-meaning, creative and enduring lady deserved to be respected and blessed.

May I share this? Nothing good happens in the church from insisting that Jesus was perfect. We all hate perfect people.

Jesus made mistakes but caught them before they cemented into horrible habits and sin. That’s pretty perfect. At least, as perfect as human beings get.

And even though, in a moment of weakness he proclaimed this woman to be a dog … she was still able to bark out the right answer.

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