Matthew 15:21-28 and Mark 7:24-30 both record a Gentile woman coming to Jesus for the deliverance of her daughter. Mark indicates clearly that she was “a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth.” She cried out to Him, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But Jesus didn’t even answer her. He kept walking. She continued crying out to Him. Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said, “Send her away.” Jesus’ reply was seemingly heartless and cold. “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He kept walking. She continued crying out to Him. “Lord, help me!” She kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
Finally He spoke to the woman. “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” She replied with a statement that arrested His attention and impressed Him. “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire. For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” And her daughter was healed at that very minute. When she came to her house, she found her daughter lying on the bed and the demon was gone.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus told a parable about a persistent widow. The lesson was about being persistent in prayer. “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
Jesus “came to His own, [Israel] and His own did not receive Him.” Jesus knew the Scriptures about how ultimately the Gentiles would be blessed. “For the Gentiles shall seek Him… He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:10; 42:1; 49:6) He marveled at Israel’s unbelief (Mark 6:6), and marveled at the faith of Gentiles (Matthew 8:10; Luke 7:9). In the Syro-Phoenician woman, Jesus certainly found persistent faith. He was trying to reach the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but the greatest faith was coming from Gentiles.
She came to Jesus and He ignored her. The disciples were annoyed with her. Finally Jesus said that what He had was not even for her. But she did not give up in her mind. Her love and determination brought total deliverance for her daughter. Author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”