Thrive: When Jesus Calls a Woman “a Dog”… – Melanie Storie


Matthew 15:21-28

“Jesus answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.’” —Matthew 15:26-27

The fact that Jesus referred to a human being as a dog has always intrigued me. This gentle Jesus who welcomed children, healed a blind man with spit-mud, and consorted with women of questionable moral character and height-challenged tax collectors certainly did some shocking things, but insulting a woman on her knees begging for mercy seems a little extreme. Sure, she was a Canaanite and therefore outside of Jesus’ call to the “lost sheep of Israel” and maybe she was a bit of a nag as the disciples complained (Really, could they be any more whiny?), but that dog comment still seems a little harsh.

I had a professor in seminary that shocked us all on the first day of Old Testament class. He asked if we professed to be Bible believers. We all nodded with great enthusiasm. Then we proceeded to Genesis 1–3 and read it literally. In doing this we realized the snake doesn’t lie, there’s an implication of there being more than one deity, and Adam and Eve aren’t thrown out of the garden for “sin,” but because now they know the difference between good and evil. After this lecture, my professor faced the class and said, “And you say you believe the Bible.” Then, he left the room!

Many of my classmates looked shocked and confused. Some even looked hurt. All I could think was, “Oh, goody! This is going to be fun!” And it was. I learned more in that class about taking the Bible seriously and handling it carefully than I ever had before.

Jesus had been walking around with disciples who barely got it when he encountered a woman who wasn’t supposed to get it and did. I believe, like the woman at the well, he knew her. He knew he could turn the tables—he could act like a Pharisee and get her to teach those whiny disciples for a change. He knew he could call her a dog and she could take it. He knew she would take those crumbs off the table and make crumb cake.

There’s a lesson in this scripture about perseverance. The Canaanite woman doesn’t give up. Her child is healed. We should persevere too.

There’s a lesson here about faith. Jesus tells her that her faith has healed her child. We should have a determined faith.

But there’s something here about Jesus too. He knows people. He knew her as soon as he saw her. He knew he could call her a dog and she’d teach everyone a lesson. The best teachers are like that; they let the students teach themselves sometimes. We should get busy. We have a lot to learn.

“Teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” —Proverbs 9:9

Melanie_Storie_250Melanie Storie is a graduate of Catawba College and Campbell University Divinity School. She has been on staff at churches in North Carolina and Virginia as minister of children, and with her husband, Matt, served with Sowing Seeds of Hope, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ministry in Perry County, Alabama. Melanie and Matt have two children, Aiden and Owen. They now live in Shelby, North Carolina.

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