Outsiders: Our People

The outsiders had the perspective needed to truly see what Jesus’s mission in the world was. By Justin and Courtney Rose

In the story of the Canaanite woman and Jesus (Matthew 15:21-28), we see a rare view of Jesus. He is aloof, He ignores, He gets snarky. He calls a desperate Gentile woman a dog! This picture of Jesus is really hard to fit inside my normal understanding of the Son of God. I like the tidy image of Jesus as a kind man eager to heal and reconcile.

The Canaanite woman comes to Jesus out of pure desperation that Jesus could save her daughter from the torment of demon possession. She persistently cries out to Jesus, making a scene so annoying that the disciples ask Jesus to make her go away. This Greek-speaking Gentile woman even calls out to Jesus using a Hebrew title, “Lord, Son of David.” She outs Him as the Jewish Messiah.

When the two have their tête-à-tête, Jesus comes across as demeaning and rude. It’s only when she seemingly wins an argument with Jesus that His attitude changes and He instantly heals the daughter from a distance because of this woman’s faith.

There are many ways to interpret this passage, but one way that might be helpful is to view Jesus and the woman as outsiders who find common ground. Jesus consistently placed Himself on the outside of society, often physically removing Himself from what was happening. He surrounded Himself with people on the periphery or people who didn’t fit in. This woman was one of those outsiders. Literally, she was not only on the “outside” of the faith as a Gentile from Canaan, but she was desperate and she was a woman. Over and over in the gospels, we see that the outsiders are the ones who actually understand what Jesus is trying to do. The outsiders had the perspective needed to truly see what Jesus’s mission in the world was.

Through this strange conversation between Jesus and the woman, it’s not Jesus’s antagonizing of this outsider that should be the focal point, it’s the fact that the two come to the same understanding. They are united in their understanding of God’s work here on Earth. Jesus calls this unified vision “faith” and rewards her by healing her daughter.

As followers of Christ, we too are supposed to intentionally be outsiders. We aren’t supposed to be the same as everyone else; we’re supposed to be uncomfortable in the world. We are also supposed to place ourselves along the margins, among the people of the periphery. They are our people, and they are the people who are blessed with a unique perspective to see the Kingdom of God at work in the world. God wants all people to be a part of His heavenly Kingdom on Earth, but we must be diligent to place ourselves on the borders and connect with others who are outsiders, because they are blessed.

Daily Readings:

  • April 1: Matthew 15:21-28
  • April 2: Mark 7:24-30
  • April 3: Matthew 4:1-11
  • April 4: Matthew 4:23-25
  • April 5: Matthew 5:1-3
  • April 6: Matthew 5:4
  • April 7: Matthew 5:5
  • April 8: Matthew 5:6
  • April 9: Matthew 5:7
  • April 10: Matthew 5:8
  • April 11: Matthew 5:9
  • April 12: Matthew 5:10
  • April 13: Matthew 5:11-12
  • April 14: Matthew 8:1-4
  • April 15: Matthew 8:5-13
  • April 16: Matthew 8:14-17
  • April 17: Matthew 8: 18-22
  • April 18: Matthew 8:28-34
  • April 19: Matthew 9:1-8       
  • April 20: Matthew 9:18-26
  • April 21: Matthew 9:27-34
  • April 22: Matthew 12:22-37
  • April 23: Matthew 16:13-20
  • April 24: Matthew 17:14-20
  • April 25: Matthew 20:29-34
  • April 26: Matthew 22:41-45
  • April 27: Matthew 28:16-20
  • April 28: Mark 1:35-39
  • April 29: Mark 3:7-12
  • April 30: Joshua 2:8-24

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