Not a Politician

Question: Jesus healed a woman’s daughter, but called her a dog. How can someone like that be a good king?

Answer: Because, unlike a president, a king doesn't need to be politically correct. Jesus said lots of things that would have lost him votes. For instance, in John 6, he seems to promote cannibalism:

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51 KJV)

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And, as a result, many of his disciples stopped following him. Of course, Jesus wasn't actually talking about cannibalism--he's referring to the breaking of bread ceremony, whereby Christians eat bread together to symbolically remember Jesus' death. But, only some of his disciples understood that. Many others didn't, and stopped following him. A politician could never afford a gaffe like that.

However, Jesus is not a politician. His power comes from God, not man. As a result, he can afford to say things that aren't particularly popular, because losing popular support will not cause him to lose his throne.

As well, rather than a politician who tries to gain as broad a support base as he possibly can, Jesus actually tried to narrow his supporters down to the people who would be most loyal. He has very high expectations of his disciples:

"Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:25-26 ESV)

Again, this is not a politically correct statement. However, by stating that his disciples need to give up everything, including their own life, for him, Jesus was ensuring that those who still followed him would be fanatically loyal.

The particular statement where Jesus called this woman a dog is similar in intent: Jesus was saying something that is extremely politically incorrect, but in doing so, was finding out whether or not this woman was truly able to be his disciple. The passage in question is in Matthew 15:

"And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon. But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.' But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed instantly." (Matt 15:21-28 ESV)

What Jesus actually says is, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.". In this case, the "children" being referred to are the Jews, and the "dogs" being referred to are non-Jews (Gentiles) like this Canaanite woman. So, yes, Jesus was calling this woman a dog.

However, his reason for doing so was to teach an important lesson. Jesus is not obligated to heal anyone. In particular, this Gentile woman had no claim whatsoever to the God of the Jews. The only possible way she would receive anything is if Jesus for some reason felt like giving it to her. But, because of her faith and humility, he did, and her son was healed.

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We Americans are in the same position as this woman. As Eph 2:12 states, we are not naturally part of the kingdom of God, and have no hope of salvation. However, through the actions of Jesus Christ, we can be given eternal life. Not because we've earned it, but because because he feels like giving it to us. And the way we can make him feel like giving us eternal life is through showing humility and faith, like the Canaanite woman did.

Citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, like American citizenship, is something that a lot of people want, but not everyone gets. Becoming a citizen of the kingdom of heaven is not as simple as just deciding you want to be a citizen. Ultimately, the king himself, Jesus Christ needs to bestow it on you. And he's only going to a bestow it on a select group of people: people who work to understand what he's talking about, people who are fanatically loyal to him, people who show humility and faith, even when his words aren't politically correct. Becoming a citizen in Jesus' kingdom is not about you choosing him, but about him choosing you.

Check out more Jesus for King articles