“And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”” Matthew 15:26
And in context why would the children need the bread that the dogs are asking for?
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The broader context of this passage is that Jesus is explaining that His mission is to the House of Israel -- it won't be until later (see Acts 10) that His message will be extended to the Gentiles.
Jesus acted in accordance with the instructions He received from the Father, and focused His time and energy in mortality in working with the House of Israel--they needed the bread He offered--He was, after all, the Bread of Life.
By investing in Israel Jesus created a powerful, concentrated movement that in future decades would expand extensively (and remarkably fast) to the Gentiles once the time was right. This would make Christ's blessings (including both spiritual transformation & physical healing) available to a much wider audience than just Israel.
Corrie Ten Boom put forward a thoughtful, hypothetical conversation between Jesus and the angels in heaven after His ascension:
She described how angels gathered around Jesus at his ascension into heaven, and these guardians inquired how the world would know about the redemption he had accomplished.
“I have trained my men,” he explained to his heavenly audience.
“To evangelize the whole world?” the angels asked.
“Every corner of it,” he responded.
“How many men did you train for such a mammoth task?” they inquired.
“Twelve men,” he asserted.
“Just a handful? But what if they fail?”
“If they fail,” said Jesus, “I have no other plans.” Puzzled, the angels insisted,
“But is that not a great risk to take?”
“No,” said the Lord, “because they will not fail.” (as recorded by W. Brian Shelton here)
If we accept that Jesus invested in the apostles in order to send them to sprinkle the world with faith in Christ--clearly they succeeded.
This passage needs context.
MAT 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon
Jesus was a Jew. And Tyre and Sidon were gentile nations. This women was from that region. A Canaanite. Those in this region hated the Jews. And the same was true of the Jews - For historical reasons. Jesus was a Jew, and was engaging in dialogue as a Jew.
MAT 15:23But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.”
Important! At this time, Jesus had only come to Israel. He was seeking to become their king - Messiah. They, the Jews, had not yet rejected him. Jesus’s mission was not [at this time] to or for the gentiles - at all.
MAT 15:24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But news of this man had spread - and Jesus had something, or could offer something this woman needed. But Canaanites were commonly known or ‘tagged’ by Jews as ‘dogs’ - a derogatory term.
The ‘children’ were those of the house of Israel. Jesus had come to ‘feed’ the Jews, to give them what they needed. (e.g. healing) - not to feed ‘dogs’. But, even like today, dogs get, ‘go after’ the leftovers. That’s what this women was asking for. She ‘accepted’ that she was an outsider, not entitled to what Jesus had. She acknowledged Jesus as a Jew, but she [ as a ‘dog’] was asking for the scraps. The ‘scraps’ she was entitled to.
Matthew 15:24 "I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel."
The children of Israel are the children, and all others, this Samaritan woman included, are the "dogs," or second, second, second class citizens in the Plan of Salvation.
However, here we have a glimpse of what is spoken about in His parable about the Wedding Feast (the Bride and Bridegroom of Israel coming together, the visitation of the Divine Messiah to His people).
Matthew 22:1-14 And Jesus answering, spoke again in parables to them, saying: 2 The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who made a marriage for his son. 3 And he sent his servants, to call them that were invited to the marriage; and they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying: Tell them that were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my beeves and fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come ye to the marriage. 5 But they neglected, and went their ways, one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. 6 And the rest laid hands on his servants, and having treated them contumeliously, put them to death. 7 But when the king had heard of it, he was angry, and sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers, and burnt their city. 8 Then he saith to his servants: The marriage indeed is ready; but they that were invited were not worthy. 9 Go ye therefore into the highways; and as many as you shall find, call to the marriage. 10 And his servants going forth into the ways, gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the marriage was filled with guests. 11 And the king went in to see the guests: and he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment. 12 And he saith to him: Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? But he was silent. 13 Then the king said to the waiters: Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
This is a particularly overt parable about the rejection of the Messiah, the "Son" of the "King," by His own people who "recieved him not" and killed the prophets and the apostles who preached Him (the "servants," and "other servants"), which resulted ultimately in the Romans who "destroyed their city" in 70AD - after just enough time for the servants of Jesus to have left that city and gone into the nations.
They that were invited are His chosen people. Yet He came to, "his own people, and his own people recieved Him not" (John 1:11).
A related parable:
Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.
Matthew 32:33-34 Hear ye another parable. There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country. 34 And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof. 35 And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner. 37 And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. 38 But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. 39 And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen? 41 They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season. 42 Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.
43 Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.
The Kingdom of God was stripped from physical Israel, and given to a new nation, a new Israel in spirit, the Church (Matthew 3:9).
So like the Samaritan woman, all Gentiles who show the works of God in accepting the Messiah, recieve the promise and can become part of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is using this as a didactic opportunity to teach that even non-Jews can become part of the Kingdom if they show its fruits (here, faith).
To add to this discussion, I'd like to share another aspect of what the bread could represent. Central to the passage of Matthew 15:21-28 is the faith of the Canaanite woman, which is at first questionable because 1) she was a Gentile and 2) she came to Jesus seeking an external benefit, the healing of her daughter. Although she knew about his works, did she understand who he is and believe in him?
This question of Jesus' identity leads me to consider whether Jesus’ words in verses 24 and 26 constitute a revelation about himself. Taken together, they reveal that he is the bread intended for the children of Israel, the one sent by God to be their redeemer.
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” + “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
The woman’s response is remarkable in its insight and humility. Perhaps by some hidden grace, she swiftly understood his meaning and, instead of taking offense, seized on the word “dogs” to declare the God of Israel as her master as well.
v. 27 “Yes, Lord; but please help, for even the dogs feed on the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Thus she claimed a share of the bread, albeit just the crumbs, for herself and, by extension, for all who are not counted among the children of Israel. And though she sought Jesus to heal her daughter, faith itself was her greatest reward.
v. 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed at once.
Mel, Deb B. (2009) Jesus and the Canaanite Woman: An Exception for Exceptional Faith. Priscilla Papers: the Academic Journal of CBE International. [https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/priscilla-papers-academic-journal/jesus-and-canaanite-woman-exception-exceptional]