I am not sent but unto the lost sheep - By the Divine appointment, I am come to preach the Gospel to the Jews only. There are certain preachers who should learn a lesson of important instruction from this part of our Lord's conduct. As soon as they hear of a lost sheep being found by other ministers, they give all diligence to get that one into their fold: but display little earnestness in seeking in the wilderness for those that are lost. This conduct, perhaps, proceeds from a consciousness of their inability to perform the work of an evangelist; and leads them to sit down in the labors of others, rather than submit to the reproach of presiding over empty chapels. Such persons should either dig or beg immediately, as they are a reproach to the pastoral office; for, not being sent of God, they cannot profit the people.
The wilderness of this world is sufficiently wide and uncultivated. Sinners abound every where; and there is ample room for all truly religious people, who have zeal for God, and love for their perishing follow creatures, to put forth all their strength, employ all their time, and exercise all their talents, in proclaiming the Gospel of God; not only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but to a lost World. Nor can such exertions be unsuccessful. There the pure truth of God is preached, many will be converted. Where that truth is preached, though with a mixture of error, some will be converted, for God will bless his own truth. But where nothing but false doctrine is preached, no soul is converted: for God will never sanction error by a miracle of his mercy.
This narrative is also found in Mark 7:24-30.
The coasts of Tyre and Sidon - These cities were on the seacoast or shore of the Mediterranean. See the notes at Matthew 11:21. Jesus went there for the purpose of concealment Mark 7:24, perhaps still to avoid Herod.
A woman of Canaan - This woman is called, also, a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, Mark 7:26
In ancient times, the whole land, including Tyre and Sidon, was in the possession of the Canaanites, and called Canaan. The Phoenicians were descended from the Canaanites. The country, including Tyre and Sidon, was called Phoenicia, or Syro-Phoenicia. That country was taken by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, and those cities, in the time of Christ, were Greek cities. This woman was therefore a Gentile, living under the Greek government, and probably speaking the Greek language. She was by birth a Syro-Phoenician, born in that country, and descended, therefore, from the ancient Canaanites. All these names might, with propriety, be given to her.
Coasts - Regions or countries.
Thou son of David - Descendant of David. See the notes at Matthew 1:1. The phrase here means the Messiah.
But he answered her not a word - This was done to test her faith, and that there might be exhibited to the apostles an example of the effect of persevering supplication.
The result shows that it was not unwillingness to aid her, or neglect of her. It was proper that the strength of her faith should be fully tried.
But he answered and said, I am not sent - This answer was made to the woman, not to the disciples.
The “lost sheep of the house of Israel” were the Jews. He came first to them. He came as their expected Messiah. He came to preach the gospel himself to the Jews only. Afterward it was preached to the Gentiles, but the ministry of Jesus was confined almost entirely to the Jews.
She came and worshipped - That is, bowed down to him or did him reverence.
See the notes at Matthew 8:2.
Lord, help me! - A proper cry for a poor sinner, who needs the help of the Lord Jesus.
But he answered and said, It is not meet - That is, it is not appropriate or proper.
Children‘s bread - The Jews considered themselves as the special children of God.
To all other nations they were accustomed to apply terms of contempt, of which dogs was the most common. The Muslims still apply the term “dogs” to Christians, and Christians and Jews to each other. The term is designed as an expression of the highest contempt. The Saviour means to say that he was sent to the Jews. The woman was a Gentile. He meant merely using a term in common use, and designed to test her faith in the strongest manner - that it did not comport with the design of his personal ministry to apply benefits intended for the Jews to others. Evidently he cannot be understood as intending to justify or sanction the use of such terms, or calling names. He meant to try her faith. As if he had said, “You are a Gentile; I am a Jew. The Jews call themselves children of God. You they vilify and abuse, calling you a dog. Are you willing to receive of a Jew, then, a favor? Are you willing to submit to these appellations to receive a favor of one of that nation, and to acknowledge your dependence on a people that so despise you?” It was, therefore, a trial of her faith, and was not a lending of his sanction to the propriety of the abusive term. He regarded her with a different feeling.
And she said, Truth, Lord - What you say is true.
Let it be that the best food should be given to the children - let the Jews have the chief benefit of thy ministry; but the dogs beneath the table eat the crumbs. So let me be regarded as a dog, a pagan, as unworthy of everything. Yet grant one exertion of that almighty power displayed so signally among the Jews, and heal the despised daughter of a despised heathen mother.”
Great is thy faith - That is, thy trust, confidence.
The word here seems to include, also, the humility and perseverance manifested in pressing her suit. The daughter was healed then. Going home, she found her well and composed, Mark 7:30.
There is a great work before us. There are men and women straying from the fold of Christ, and as they become cold and indifferent, and lose all disposition to return, they will not run after you. You must take them where they are.... When you find a wandering sheep, call him to the fold; and leave him not until you see him safely enfolded there. ... Go out for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. OHC 178.2Read in context »
Faith grasped the promise, and the glad response was heard: “No more long pilgrimages to make; no more painful journeys to holy shrines. I may come to Jesus just as I am, sinful and unholy, and He will not spurn the penitential prayer. ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’ Mine, even mine, may be forgiven!” GC 75.1
A tide of sacred joy would fill the heart, and the name of Jesus would be magnified by praise and thanksgiving. Those happy souls returned to their homes to diffuse light, to repeat to others, as well as they could, their new experience; that they had found the true and living Way. There was a strange and solemn power in the words of Scripture that spoke directly to the hearts of those who were longing for the truth. It was the voice of God, and it carried conviction to those who heard. GC 75.2
The messenger of truth went on his way; but his appearance of humility, his sincerity, his earnestness and deep fervor, were subjects of frequent remark. In many instances his hearers had not asked him whence he came or whither he went. They had been so overwhelmed, at first with surprise, and afterward with gratitude and joy, that they had not thought to question him. When they had urged him to accompany them to their homes, he had replied that he must visit the lost sheep of the flock. Could he have been an angel from heaven? they queried. GC 75.3Read in context »
The light of the glory of God must fall upon us. We need the holy unction from on high. However intelligent, however learned a man may be, he is not qualified to teach unless he has a firm hold on the God of Israel. He who is connected with heaven will do the works of Christ. By faith in God he will have power to move upon humanity. He will seek for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If divine power does not combine with human effort, I would not give a straw for all that the greatest man could do. The Holy Spirit is wanting in our work.—The Review and Herald, February 18, 1890. TM 278.1Read in context »
But the purposes of Christ were not thwarted. He allowed the evil spirits to destroy the herd of swine as a rebuke to those Jews who were raising these unclean beasts for the sake of gain. Had not Christ restrained the demons, they would have plunged into the sea, not only the swine, but also their keepers and owners. The preservation of both the keepers and the owners was due alone to His power, mercifully exercised for their deliverance. Furthermore, this event was permitted to take place that the disciples might witness the cruel power of Satan upon both man and beast. The Saviour desired His followers to have a knowledge of the foe whom they were to meet, that they might not be deceived and overcome by his devices. It was also His will that the people of that region should behold His power to break the bondage of Satan and release his captives. And though Jesus Himself departed, the men so marvelously delivered, remained to declare the mercy of their Benefactor. GC 515.1
Other instances of a similar nature are recorded in the Scriptures. The daughter of the Syrophoenician woman was grievously vexed with a devil, whom Jesus cast out by His word. (Mark 7:26-30). “One possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb” (Matthew 12:22); a youth who had a dumb spirit, that ofttimes “cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him” (Mark 9:17-27); the maniac who, tormented by “a spirit of an unclean devil” (Luke 4:33-36), disturbed the Sabbath quiet of the synagogue at Capernaum—all were healed by the compassionate Saviour. In nearly every instance, Christ addressed the demon as an intelligent entity, commanding him to come out of his victim and to torment him no more. The worshipers at Capernaum, beholding His mighty power, “were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.” Luke 4:36. GC 515.2
Those possessed with devils are usually represented as being in a condition of great suffering; yet there were exceptions to this rule. For the sake of obtaining supernatural power, some welcomed the satanic influence. These of course had no conflict with the demons. Of this class were those who possessed the spirit of divination,—Simon Magus, Elymas the sorcerer, and the damsel who followed Paul and Silas at Philippi. GC 516.1Read in context »