Here, Matthew groups together three seemingly unrelated events in Jesus’ ministry, but, as we have seen, there is nothing accidental in the way Matthew chose to organise his Gospel.
These three events are three examples of the most important aspects of Jesus’ ministry as Matthew sees them: opposition, compassion. Here we see each one of these aspects growing in intensity.
The opposition from the religious leaders is stronger than before. They have come all the way from Jerusalem, bristling with authority. They confront him in front of the crowd, trying to discredit him through criticism of his disciples. Jesus’ condemnation of them is very strong too, and also takes place in front of the crowd.
Then the gentile woman comes begging for healing for her daughter – an example of strong faith. She persists in her request, kneeling before the Lord, arguing her case, because she has total faith that Jesus can do what she asks.
Finally, we have another miraculous feeding of multitudes. Unlike the crowds Jesus fed in Galilee, who would mainly have been Jews, these people, who had been with Jesus for three solid days, would mainly have been Gentiles. While Jesus may have come for “the lost sheep of Israel”, these three events show us that the invitation to the Gentiles is now fully open.
Jesus extends an open invitation. He does not exclude because of background, ethnicity, wealth or education. As with the Canaanite woman, he looks for genuine faith. He extends his invitation to all who would put their faith in him today. Let us pray for our unsaved family and friends, that they would receive his invitation.