Crumbs Under the Table

crumbs under the table

“… According to your faith will it be done to you” Matthew 9:29 (NIV)

She didn’t belong. I knew it, and the rest of us knew it. We were just sitting down to dinner when she barged in; a disheveled, dirty woman. She’d spotted him . . . “Lord, Son of David” – she cried, as James and John moved to cut her off. She wasn’t intimidated, brazen as could be. “Have mercy on me!” she wailed. “My daughter’s suffering, possessed you see?”

He must have heard her. How couldn’t He? But He never looked up, never said a word and we, we started hustling her out the door. It was justified, the right thing to do. She was interrupting our meal, our time with Him. We weren’t going to let her get in the way of that.

She was quite strong for a skinny thing. Struggled a bit, but didn’t have a chance. We were used to hauling nets in; it was easy hauling her out. But outside, she was worse than an obstinate drunk. Loud, insistent, she kept trying to duck back in. Her daughter may have had problems, but I tell you, she was a real pain.

James tried to reason with her: “Look,” he said, “You’ve no right to be here. You’re a Gentile, a heathen, unclean, a foreigner to our ways. There’s just no chance He’s going to see you. Do yourself a favour. Go away!” But she screamed even more. The whole neighbourhood must have heard her. I tell you, she was crazy. She cried, begged, pleaded. There was nothing more we could do. So grudgingly, we took her back inside.

This time He looked up. We pleaded with Him to send her away. Enough was enough! He backed us up. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” He said. But it was like she hadn’t heard a word. Slipping out of John’s grasp she threw herself at His feet. “Lord, help me!” she pleaded.

I was weary. Fortunately she was His problem now. Distracted, I watched the child sitting beside Him who was eating a piece of bread and the dog who was sniffing the floor under the table. He looked at her. “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs,” He said. A few of us smiled. It was a well turned phrase, made the point well. Sometimes He could be infuriatingly obtuse with what He said, but this time He was making sense.

But she wasn’t giving up. “Yes, Lord,” she said in this incredibly calm voice, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” A pause. . . . He smiled, maybe to concede she’d won the conflict of wits. “Woman,” He said with quiet compassion, “You have great faith! Your request is granted. Go home, your daughter is healed.” I didn’t get it – just didn’t get it! Deep in thought, I hardly noticed her leave . . .

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