"So why is Jesus being such a jerk?" was my question to Pastor Vincent this week about this Scripture from Matthew.
This is one of the stories about Jesus that makes me uncomfortable. I want the simple Jesus that we know loves us and everyone because the "Bible tells us so." This is a passage that reminds us that Jesus was not always warm and fuzzy. Jesus is approached by a Canaanite women - an outsider who was definitely not one of God's "chosen people." To Jesus, in that moment, maybe she was like an annoying helicopter parent with a screaming kid. But she desperately needs help so she comes to Jesus and he first ignores her - and then basically compares her place in the world to that of a dog. Ouch.
|This is dog named Chingo and he lives in the El Porvenir community in Nicaragua.|
What's up Jesus? Why are you being such a jerk?
I have to remind myself when I read this story that maybe the "fully- human" Jesus was just tired and getting irritated that the disciples still don't seem to get it - and that others were still unconvinced and not believing who he really was. Rejection makes us grouchy. And here comes this screaming nobody of a woman who does get it - calling him "Son of David " and recognizing his divinity. She's not his target audience - who he's been working so hard to convince of God's love. She wants him to take the demons out of her daughter. She knows he's capable of it - and maybe he's starting to feel a little used. We all feel that way sometimes. I get how that would be frustrating.
The disciples tell Jesus to send her away. Jesus himself tells her that he was only sent to help the " lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
And then things get real. She kneels before him and uses his own words about the dogs to show him that she is willing to show up, worship him, and be present. Even when everyone is against her and she is not one of the "chosen." Jesus sees her persistence and faith - and he changes his mind. He heals her daughter.
He sees that her need outweighs her status and station in life. He humbles himself, changes his mind, and helps a struggling marginalized, screaming, annoying women. Of course, we like this Jesus at the end of the story better than the Jesus at the beginning. Jesus shows us that - as we know from what's going on in the world around us- seeking justice and sharing God's love is not comfortable and easy. And we don't always get it right on the first try.
I am asking myself this week- who do I need to listen to closely? Who have I rejected without much thought?
Where do I need more humility?