THE CANAANITE WOMAN
Apparently, the case of the Canaanite woman is unrelated to the case of the outward washing of hands. Actually, these two are intimately related to one another. This case concerns the Lord Jesus as our food, our nourishment. We all must observe one principle when reading the book of Matthew: do not read simply according to the black and white letters, but go to the Lord and ask, "Lord, what is implied here?" Just as the title of God—the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—implies resurrection, something not found in the black and white letters (Matt. 22:31-32), so it is with the entire book of Matthew. Almost every verse in this book is related to the kingdom.
After speaking to the Pharisees about vain worship and about the heart of man, the Lord Jesus withdrew to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, a Gentile region. He did not go to the priests or to the temple, but to the Gentile world. While He was there, a woman of Canaan, considered by the Jews as a Gentile dog, came to Him. This comes as a striking contrast when compared with the previous case of the Lord’s dealing with the Pharisees. The Pharisees talked about outward things—outward washing, outward correction, and outward improvement. This was not so with the Gentile woman. In this incident, the Lord covered the matter of inward nourishment. The woman herself did not initiate the matter of nourishment; rather she attempted to imitate the Jewish religion by calling the Lord Jesus the Son of David. This was a Jewish term, and no Gentile had the position to use it. The Lord Jesus was exceedingly wise in answering the woman. In all of human history there has never been another person as wise as He. He said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (15:24). This brief answer implies several things. The Lord, in effect, was saying, "If you call Me the Son of David, you should be an Israelite, but you are not. I came for the children of Israel. As the Son of David, I am not for you. You are the wrong person to address Me this way." Don’t think, however, that the Lord Jesus intended to reject her. The Lord had no intention of rejecting her. He simply wanted her to realize that she did not have the position to address Him as the Son of David. Only Israelites could speak to Him in this way.
The Lord went on to say, "It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs" (15:26). By this statement He implied that He had come to be bread. It also implied the position of the Canaanite woman. Her position was that of a Gentile dog. Immediately, though, that "Gentile dog" willingly took her position and claimed her portion. She no longer used the title "Son of David." She seemed to say: "Yes, Lord, I am a Gentile dog, but even a dog has a dog’s portion. The children have their portion, and their portion is on the table. The dog’s portion is under the table. When the children’s portion falls under the table, it becomes the dog’s portion. Lord Jesus, You are the children’s bread, but You have fallen under the table. Now You are not on the table of Israel, but You are here under the table at Tyre and Sidon. You have fallen to the ground beneath the table, and now You are my portion." After the Lord heard this, He granted her request.
Forget about the outward washing of hands, but gather up all the crumbs of Christ and eat them. Because the Jews rejected Him, He is not on the table; He is under the table as our portion. We are not children; we are Gentile dogs, but we are eating the children’s food. By eating of Christ, we Gentile dogs will be regenerated into children.
Let me ask you quite frankly, Are you dogs or children? How can dogs be changed into children? Is it by an outward washing? If you washed a dog thirty times a day he would still remain a dog; a dog can never be changed by washing. But the dogs can eat the crumbs, the children’s food, and be transformed into children. Originally, all of the kingdom people were dogs, but by feeding on the crumbs of the Lord Jesus we have been transformed into children. Sometimes the dog’s tail is still visible. Occasionally I can see a Chinese tail, and at other times I can see an American tail. And other times I can see a Japanese or a German tail. Although we all have become children, some trace of the dog’s tail remains. However, this does not bother me. I have the full assurance that after a period of time, perhaps a few months or a year, all the tails will be swallowed up by the proper eating of the Lord Jesus. It is not a matter of an outward washing of hands; it is a matter of eating the crumbs.
There is a connecting line between these two cases. The Lord Jesus said that what we take into us, meaning what we eat, does not defile us. That which comes out of us is what defiles us. What then should we take into us? We must take in the crumbs. In the first case we have the matter of taking in; in the second case we have the matter of the eating of crumbs. We will never be defiled by taking Christ into us, but anything that comes out of us will defile others. We must be careful never to allow anything to proceed out of us. Neither should we receive anything which issues out of others, for that will defile us. We should simply take in Christ and allow Him to swallow up all the ruin and uncleanness within us. We should simply eat the crumbs of Christ day by day. Then we will be clean, not by the outward washing of hands, but by the inward, metabolic washing of our inner being. We will be clean by taking Christ into our being. We need to let Christ swallow us up and transform us from dogs into children.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 25, by Witness Lee)