“Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
It is the day after Thanksgiving, and a surplus of leftovers is precariously stacked in my fridge. So precariously, in fact, that the thought of having to unpack the milk for this morning’s cereal causes me to settle for dry toast with a smidge of jelly snatched quickly from one of a dozen jars in the door. I have no time this morning to risk the avalanche that may result, nor the energy to rearrange the fridge’s chilly interior before my first cup of Java Joe kicks in.
Yesterday, after pushing back from a table laden with ham, turkey, giblet gravy, dressing, and all the trimmings, I vowed never to eat again. Now, before the dawn breaks and with only the light of the refrigerator piercing the morning darkness, one bleary-eyed glimpse of Tom Turkey and a half-eaten pumpkin roll has me eagerly anticipating my next meal.
Leftovers are rarely seen as choice fare, but for the Canaanite woman, even leftovers were desirable. Seen as only a “dog” within this pharisaical community, she was deemed unworthy of anything more than table scraps. However, the desperation that seized her soul regarding her daughter’s well-being propelled her to push past the disciples and the self-righteous glares of the crowd to fall humbly at the feet of the Master. This outsider had the vision needed to see the One who contained the power to alter the outcome of her daughter’s life, while those he came to save blindly looked on. The apostles must have felt a sense of smugness as Jesus’s initial silence appeared to validate their deeply embedded beliefs. Little did they know a few well-thought-out words from Jesus would swiftly extract their shallow roots.
The words of Jesus seem callous, yet he typically seized the moment to demonstrate his unconditional love and to foreshadow the coming salvation of the Gentiles. In spite of his seeming indifference and the intolerable attitude of the disciples, the Canaanite woman clung to the hope that she had placed in Jesus.
True, Jesus had come to save the lost sheep of Israel, but this humble, outcast woman believed in her heart that even scraps from the Master’s table were more than enough to restore her daughter’s life. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,” she said (Matthew 15:27). Jesus’s response to her was, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted” (Matthew 15:28). As a result of her faith, her daughter was immediately healed.
Today, as I sit munching on my meager toast, an abundance of food is piled high in my fridge. Do I, an heir alongside of Christ, take for granted all I have, and yet feel entitled to more? Or, do I with undaunted faith desire whatever God has to give, knowing that even scraps from his hand will bring more healing to my bones than the surplus of leftovers stacked in my fridge?
It is not how much we receive but the spirit with which we receive it that brings not only the results we desire, but the leftover sounds of thanksgiving that our Master so longs to hear.