Could You Repeat That Please? - Offense or Not
Meeting at church on Sunday was different than the normal segment where a discussion about the gospel of Jesus Christ ensued followed by a litany of personal experiences to support living a particular principle of the gospel. It is not that the format changed. A principle taught and anecdotal experiences given did not change. The topic of the discussion was one that is disconcerting in mixed company when that company involves mixed races. What can we do when someone says something offensive to us?
Jeffrey R. Holland said,
Whether we have caused that pain or been the recipient of the pain, those wounds need to be healed so that life can be as rewarding as God intended it to be. 1
For the Black man who is called the n-word or the white man who is called racist, the feelings are not equal in nature, but the hurt of receiving either epitaph can cause offense that lasts a lifetime. Such is the case in the following story mentioned in the Bible.
The Woman of Canaan
Lauded about the regions and coast of Tyre and Sidon, the celebrity of Jesus could not be contained as He worked daily healing people and challenging the status quo of the Hebrew culture versus its faith in God.
What was done was not hidden in a corner from the world. Desperates of many regions learned about the healing power God put into the hands of Jesus of Nazareth. Foreigners familiar with the prophecies of a messiah who would appear working miracles before the populous saw that Jesus was the manifestation of those writings and believed.
She came to the coast where she had heard that Jesus would be with hope in her heart. A ways off from the camp of Jesus, she could not contain her words before she was close enough to have a cordial conversation with the man.
"Have mercy on me," 2 she raised her voice quickening her pace towards the man. Dust kicked in clouds from beneath her tunic as she sped ahead of her servants with the look of noble beauty about her face and ease apparent from her manicured fingernails, possibly of a great noble house.
"O Lord, thou Son of David;" 2 she identified that she was no common woman but one versed in the knowledge of the prophesies and genealogy of Jesus. "My daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." 2
Standing respectfully outside of the Jewish camp of Jesus, she waited for a response to her request, not submitted once but repeatedly to those who stood by, the disciples of Jesus who did not know what to do with her not being a Hebrew herself. A dark complexioned woman with black bushy plaited hair. She was of those people of mixed heritage regardless of her nobility and beauty, unclean according to Hebrew tradition.
Troubled by the repeated requests of this Canaanite woman, the disciple petition their Master on her behalf full of compassion as her plight. "Send her away;" 2 they say indicating that if Jesus gave her what she wanted she would leave in peace. Had her faith not been demonstrated as all the others by her seeking Him out?
Compassion for this woman pricked the disciples in their souls. "For she crieth after us," 2 they pled with Jesus.
Looking in the direction of the woman who refused to turn away her pleading and into the eyes of each of His disciples, Jesus responded, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 2
Odd that this one time Jesus had a question of whether to bless this woman and answer her faith with healing as He had the others. Is it because she is no Hebrew that He did not answer her those many times she petitioned them to save her daughter? Did not the love of God extend toward all the people created on Earth?
God sent Him to the Hebrew and it was their time to receive the witness of His power. Persistent, the woman heard the confession of Jesus and approached Him knowing God is merciful to all in her experience, knowing this man Jesus by reputation could not possibly turn her away, can He? She believed.
On her knees before Him, flatting herself before Him repeatedly in anguished hope, tears aflow, said she, "Lord, help me." 2
Lord, Help Me!
Bated breath disciples looked carefully and with wonder as Jesus lowered Himself to the woman tenderly raising her from the ground and to his stooped level. Eyes glistening with compassion, Jesus responded, "It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs." 2
Uh, could you repeat that, please?
"It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs." 2
What the woman could have Said and did in response:
"You racist bastard," she exclaimed pushing his hand away from her standing abruptly to her feet!
"I come to you in full faith to be healed like all of those other people and you single me out calling me a dog because I am not Hebrew? To hell with this."
"I will not ask you to help me even if you decide to do it! At least I know my worth and will deal with my child the way she is because I am just as good as any of you Hebrews."
She dusted her apparel off glaring at Jesus and each disciple. "Yeah, so I'm a dog to you. Go to hell!"
Would many people in modern society blame this woman if she did say what is written above? In today's climate, that is what prevails in society, offense and response in kind. That is not the way of Christianity, which is to forgive those who offend us and pray for them.
In class at church came the words of racially charged names that cause bitterness to divide society into parts. People refuse to forgive due to real or misunderstood offenses and canker their souls.
Christ taught...in our day: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men”1 revealed Jeffrey R. Holland.
He also insisted,
It is, however, important for some of you living in real anguish to note what He did not say. He did not say,
Nor did He say,
- “You are not allowed to feel true pain or real sorrow from the shattering experiences you have had at the hand of another.”
- “In order to forgive fully, you have to reenter a toxic relationship or return to an abusive, destructive circumstance.” 1
What He does want for us to do is forgive those who hurt us intentionally or not so that we can benefit from the peace that comes with it. Instead of getting offended when Jesus compared blessing her to giving the food of the children of the kingdom to dogs or casting pearls before swine, the woman responded humbly.
What She did Say in Response
Lifting her eyes up to His to match his gaze, "Truth, Lord," 2 the wet-faced woman agreed. "Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table." 2
Amazed at her faith and understanding of what He was trying to communicate to her, Jesus gave her the desires of her heart and she went away in peace to her daughter who was healed of the evil spirit that possed her.
Jeffrey R. Holland - The Ministry of Reconciliation - Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1
Matthew 15: 22-28 2
© 2019 Rodric Anthony