Jesus apparently is not sent to his hometown to perform miracles, but to tell his neighbors that He is not going to be accepted by them. He says to them, “No prophet is acceptable in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24) Then He proceeds to provide two examples of this truth. Jesus speaks of the widows in Israel that Elijah was not sent to “when the heavens were shut up for three years and six months.” (Luke 4:25) Instead Elijah was sent to Zarephath, a widow from the land of Sidon. Jesus also speaks of the many lepers in Israel that Elisha was not sent to cleanse. Instead Elisha was sent “only to Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)
Yet, when the Canaanite woman asks Jesus to have mercy on her and drive out a demon from her daughter, Jesus ignores her completely. So, she cries out to His disciples. They beg Jesus to “send her away.” (Matthew 15:23) He says to them (and not to her), “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) The Canaanite woman persists, saying: “Lord, help me.” (Matthew 15:25) Jesus responds, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) The woman does not appear to be insulted or even surprised by our Lord’s attitude. Instead she agrees with Him. She says, “Yes, Lord.” But then she uses a perfectly logical argument with Him. She continues, “Yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:27) Jesus is impressed with the level of this Gentile’s faith, and He proclaims, “Be it done for you as you desire.” (Matthew 15:28) He gives her the desire of her heart because of her persistence and her logic.
The Canaanite woman’s persistence, her acceptance of Jesus’ rejection, and her logical argument are opposites from the reaction of the crowd in Nazareth when Jesus finishes reading from “the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.” (Luke 4:17) When Jesus tells His friends and neighbors that He fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, at first the crowd “speaks well of Him and marvels at the gracious words that are coming from His mouth.” (Luke 4:22) But when Jesus gives examples of how the prophets Elijah and Elisha were sent to persons not within the house of Israel, “all in the synagogue are filled with wrath.” (Luke 4:28)
Jesus’ neighbors “rise up and drive Him out of the town and bring Him to the brow of the hill on which their town is built, so they can throw Him down the cliff.” (Luke 4:29)
Jesus “passes through their midst” and literally leaves them behind. With the Canaanite woman, He turns the tables just as Elijah and Elisha once did; He gives her that which is meant only for Israel, only for the children of God. He gives her the desire of her heart.