In the fifteenth chapter of Matthew, we meet Jesus in conversation with a Canaanite woman who challenges him for her healing. This passage bring light upon the opposition that Jesus is experiencing from the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes, causing Jesus to move beyond Jewish territory and venture into Gentile country.
II. Narrative Context
Beginning in chapter fifteen, Jesus is seen challenging the teachings of the Pharisees and the elders. This passage catches Jesus in the midst of much confrontation of his ministry and it continually unveiling his power and divine power. Filled with unbelief, the Pharisees and Sadducees are questioning Jesus about things they have thought was figured out, and are seeming to think they have Jesus cornered. The opposition is serving as a transition for Jesus to make another powerful move in his ministry. This opposition has seemed to have pushed Jesus out from his Jewish context into a more stressful, less hostile Gentile environment. Following the text at hand, we find Jesus encountered with a multitude of people, who he has compassion for. This miracle of feeding the four thousand continues to move towards Jesus’ ministry among Gentiles.
In reading the narrative of Matthew as a whole, this passage fits into the plot foreshadowing the near future of Jesus’ ministry. Up until this point in the narrative, Jesus’ ministry has been strictly centered on the Jewish community, except for when he heals the Centurion and the Gadarene demoniacs. When we arrive at Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, this is a powerful movement of the coming of Gods favor and grace for all humanity, not just the Jewish community.
III. Narrative-critical analysis
21- The pericope begins with making ...
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...an his mission stops there.”
IV. Relation to Narrative themes
In the gospel of Matthew, there is a theme of Jesus being worshiped as God in the world. Found in our passage of study, the woman affirms this theme by, bowing on her knees before Jesus, as well as calling him Lord every time she addresses him. It is clear that she is aware of Jesus nature because of the way she greets him and the words she use to reference him. This passage is full of worship of the presence of Christ.
Also, through this passage, there is a heavy message of Jesus ministry being expanded to include Gentiles. Jesus leaves Jewish territory and enters Tyre and Sidon, after a debate between Pharisees about purity codes. With Jesus being in Gentile territory, and having some type of dialogue with a Gentile, Jesus is opening the kingdom of God to include those outside the Jewish community.
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