It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs. (Mark 7:27)

MATTHEW’S TELLING of this encounter between Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman lets us in on some of the details Mark omitted that help overcome our initial offense. Jesus was not calling the woman a dog. After she addressed Jesus with the very Jewish title “Son of David,” He pointed out to the Gentile woman that He had been sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.

Did she understand that non-Jews were not the focus of Jesus’ initial earthly ministry to the covenant people, but would be part of the later fulfillment of His plan for all humanity? Her answer reveals that His message was understood. “Lord . . . even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” In other words, the head of the household is the master over all who are inside the house. Jews and Gentiles will all reap the benefits of the Lord’s redemptive mission.

“For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” Jesus’ compassion extends to everybody. Divisions exist everywhere in our world, in our communities, and even in our churches. Jesus bypasses the divisions and invites everyone to His table. Should we be any different? “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). Resist the tendency to acknowledge hierarchies, classes, and divisions. We do have differences, but we must show compassion to all.

Allow Jesus to break down the barriers around your life.

Bill Beck, with wife Lisa and daughter Katie, enjoys life in the Black Hills of South Dakota.