We all have perceptions of Jesus. What are your perceptions of Jesus? Is He a doting uncle? A not-so-kind friend? A demi-god who really doesn’t have things under control? A mystery? A contradiction? A fascinating being to behold and to be loved from afar? Sometimes our perceptions of Jesus don’t match up with the person we read about in the Bible. Seeking to understanding who Jesus really is can be an incredible but confusing journey; one that we’ll revisit again and again. Each time we embark on this journey, we’ll discover more about this amazing man, and the women God created us to become. People have been trying to make sense of Jesus since He was on earth 2000 years ago, join the journey because we’re not alone.
Due to validated accounts that Jesus healed people and cast out demons, people often begged Him for healing. So, it wasn’t surprising when a Canaanite woman came to Jesus, crying loudly for Him to heal her demon-possessed daughter. Considering Jesus cast out demons all the time, it would be easy to conclude that He’d quickly cast out this demon, too, but He didn’t. Actually, Jesus didn’t say anything about the woman until the disciples asked Him to make her be quiet and go away. Then Jesus told her that He had only come to serve the Israelites, God’s chosen people, not gentiles. His exact words were, “I have come only for the lost sheep of Israel.” (Paraphrase Matthew 15:24) The insistent woman pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter. She completely humbled herself and said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table.” The Israelites generally viewed gentiles as being beneath them, since they were not God’s chosen people, and instead of fighting against this stereotype, the woman conceded that Jesus was indeed higher than she was, and pleaded for Him to be merciful. Jesus took notice of her faith in Him, then gladly healed her daughter.
When the Canaanite woman initially approached Jesus, her initial perception of Him was that He was powerful and merciful. Jesus was known for His miracles, especially unconventional ones, but when the woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, He didn’t heal her immediately as she expected. In the same way, our circumstances sometimes misconstrue our view Jesus. We expect Jesus to respond in a certain way, but are surprised when He reacts in an unanticipated way. Then, like the Canaanite woman, we’re faced with a choice:
1) Will we choose to trust our understanding of what Jesus says, and believe our understanding of who Jesus is over what He says about Himself? It’s often easier to believe what we think to be true over what is actually true.
2) Will we choose to believe that He is who He said He is, and that He will do what He says He will do? The woman chose to believe that Jesus was bigger than her understanding, humbled herself, and continued to plead with Him. He recognized her faith and blessed her.
The lesson that the Canaanite woman learned is one that we still struggle with today. We have the blessing of the Bible to give examples of Jesus’ identity, yet we ignore its teachings. In our relationship with Christ, it’s important to recognize who we perceive Jesus to be, and to compare our perceptions with the teachings of Jesus in the Bible. Then, respond to those comparisons through prayer by asking Jesus to reveal himself, just as He revealed himself to be merciful and loving to the Canaanite woman. Jesus always has something to teach us about Himself. Jesus wants to reveal Himself to us, too, proving to us that He is all-powerful, loving and merciful. He is always willing to listen, and cares about our prayers, even when we don’t think He does. There is so much about His love and character that He wants to reveal to us. He is ready and willing to start sharing these character traits with each of us. One way we can start our journey of discovering who Jesus is, is to go through the Bible and find all the times Jesus says, “I am…” An exciting and never-ending journey awaits.