Jesus was the master teacher. Having invited his disciples to see what the rule of God looks like through the parables in chapter 13, Matthew brings this next section of the gospel to a climax with some pointed questions. Throughout this section (13:54–16:12) as we have seen, Jesus has been interpreted by the likes of Herod, the Canaanite woman and the crowds. He has been rejected by religious leaders and his fellow citizens in Nazareth.
How can those who spend the most time in the Scriptures or with Jesus miss God’s point altogether? Take the disciples, for instance. Jesus is giving them another lesson about yeast and bread and, not understanding him, they immediately jump to the conclusion that he must be talking in some oblique way about the bread they had forgotten to take with them.
The problem is that they’ve been missing the point all along the way.
As you read about the feeding of the 4,000, put yourself in the scene. Do you think the men and women, sitting in groups of 50, knew where their bread was coming from? Now put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. What was it like for Jesus’ inner circle to witness the astounding miracle of the expanding bread?
As usual, Jesus has a bigger agenda than feeding the hungry masses.
The disciples are often amazed at Jesus, both by the wow factor of his miracles as well as his tendency to challenge the establishment and cultural norms. But what amazes Jesus? It’s always faith – faith that shows up in unexpected places (Matthew 8:10) or faith absent when it should be expected (Mark 6:6). So what is it about this Canaanite woman that causes him to cry out, “Dear woman, you really do have a lot of faith!”?