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Mark 7:27-28 [Jesus] said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
But these explanations seem ill-fitting given what I know about Jesus. Why would Jesus insult someone who was triply marginalized: a woman, a Gentile, and a foreigner?
I think placement matters. This story comes right after Jesus has criticized the Pharisees; it’s not what goes into a person’s mouth that defiles them but what comes out of them—from their heart—that defiles them.
This woman would have certainly been “defiled” by what went into her body, but what was inside her heart? Jesus’ response would have been typical of a rabbi in his time, but I also believe Jesus was setting her up to reveal her faith. In this way, she could be publicly honored and elevated. That sounds more like the Jesus I know.
MOVING FORWARD: What stories of Jesus are puzzling to you? How might you look at them with new eyes?