See here, I. How humbly Christ was pleased to conceal himself. Never man was so cried up as he was in Galilee, and therefore, to teach us, though not to decline any opportunity of doing good, yet not to be fond of popular applause, he arose from thence, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, where he was little known; and there he entered, not into a synagogue, or place of concourse, but into a private house, and he would have no man to know it; because it was foretold concerning him, He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall his voice be heard in the streets. Not but that he was willing to preach and heal here as well as in other places, but for this he would be sought unto. Note, As there is a time to appear, so there is a time to retire. Or, he would not be known, because he was upon the borders of Tyre and Sidon, among Gentiles, to whom he would not be so forward to show himself as to the tribes of Israel, whose glory he was to be.
II. How graciously he was pleased to manifest himself, notwithstanding. Though he would not carry a harvest of miraculous cures into those parts, yet, it should seem, he came on purpose to drop a handful, to let fall this one which we have here an account of. He could not be hid; for, though a candle may be put under a bushel, the sun cannot. Christ was too well known to be long incognito—hid, any where; the oil of gladness which he was anointed with, like ointment of the right hand, would betray itself, and fill the house with its odours. Those that had only heard his fame, could not converse with him, but they would soon say, “This must be Jesus.” Now observe,
1. The application made to him by a poor woman in distress and trouble. She was a Gentile, a Greek, a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, an alien to the covenant of promise; she was by extraction a Syrophenician, and not in any degree proselyted to the Jewish religion; she had a daughter, a young daughter, that was possessed with the devil. How many and grievous are the calamities that young children are subject to! Her address was, (1.) Very humble, pressing, and importunate; She heard of him, and came, and fell at his feet. Note, Those that would obtain mercy from Christ, must throw themselves at his feet; must refer themselves to him, humble themselves before him, and give up themselves to be ruled by him. Christ never put any from him, that fell at his feet, which a poor trembling soul may do, that has not boldness and confidence to throw itself into his arms. (2.) It was very particular; she tells him what she wanted. Christ gave poor supplicants leave to be thus free with him; she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter, Mark 7:26. Note, The greatest blessing we can ask of Christ for our children is, that he would break the power of Satan, that is, the power of sin, in their souls; and particularly, that he would cast forth the unclean spirit, that they may be temples of the Holy Ghost, and he may dwell in them.
2. The discouragement he gave to this address (Mark 7:27); He said unto her, “Let the children first be filled; let the Jews have all the miracles wrought for them, that they have occasion for, who are in a particular manner God’s chosen people; and let not that which was intended for them, be thrown to those who are not of God’s family, and who have not that knowledge of him, and interest in him, which they have, and who are as dogs in comparison of them, vile and profane, and who are as dogs to them, snarling at them, spiteful toward them, and ready to worry them.” Note, Where Christ knows the faith of poor supplicants to be strong, he sometimes delights to try it, and put it to the stretch. But his saying, Let the children first be filled, intimates that there was mercy in reserve for the Gentiles, and not far off; for the Jews began already to be surfeited with the gospel of Christ, and some of them had desired him to depart out of their coasts. The children begin to play with their meat, and their leavings, their loathings, would be a feast for the Gentiles. The apostles went by this rule, Let the children first be filled, let the Jews have the first offer; and if their full souls loathe this honeycomb, Lo, we turn to the Gentiles!
3. The turn she gave to this word of Christ, which made against her, and her improvement of it, to make for her, Mark 7:28. She said, “Yes, Lord, I own it is true that the children’s bread ought not to be cast to the dogs; but they were never denied the crumbs of that bread, nay it belongs to them, and they are allowed a place under the table, that they may be ready to receive them. I ask not for a loaf, no, nor for a morsel, only for a crumb; do not refuse me that.” This she speaks, not as undervaluing the mercy, or making light of it in itself, but magnifying the abundance or miraculous cures with which she heard the Jews were feasted, in comparison with which a single cure was but as a crumb. Gentiles do not come in crowds, as the Jews do; I come alone. Perhaps she had heard of Christ’s feeding five thousand lately at once, after which, even when they had gathered up the fragments, there could not but be some crumbs left for the dogs.
4. The grant Christ thereupon made of her request. Isa. she thus humble, thus earnest? For this saying, Go thy way, thou shalt have what thou camest for, the devil is gone out of thy daughter, Mark 7:29. This encourages us to pray and not to faint, to continue instant in prayer, not doubting but to prevail at last; the vision at the end shall speak, and not lie. Christ’s saying that is was done, did it effectually, as at other times his saying, Let it be done; for (Mark 7:30) she came to her house, depending upon the word of Christ, that her daughter was healed, and so she found it, the devil was gone out. Note, Christ can conquer Satan at a distance; and it was not only when the demoniacs saw him, that they yielded to his power (as Mark 3:11), but when they saw him not, for the Spirit of the Lord is not bound, nor bounded. She found her daughter not in any toss or agitation, but very quietly laid on the bed, and reposing herself; waiting for her mother’s return, to rejoice with her, that she was so finely well.