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Warts and All!

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When Oliver Cromwell in 1764 was about to have his portrait painted, he coined the famous expression: “Paint me, warts and all!” 

Do we really know for sure that the picture of Jesus that we get in the Gospels is an authentic one? Or did the Gospel writers air-brush him? Are we getting a picture of Jesus – warts and all?

The proof that Jesus is the real deal is found in today’s Gospel (Matt 15:21-28). Jesus is on the run from the scribes and the Pharisees who want to kill him. He flees Palestine and goes North to what is Lebanon today. Why is Jesus on the run? Because he’s scared. Scared of being caught and killed – warts and all. 

Jesus planned to hide out as an illegal alien and eventually sneak back into Palestine when he could. But his fame as a miracle-worker was too great for this to happen. A Canaanite woman with a sick child finds him. Hysterically she begs him to cure her daughter. His identity has been revealed.

The Apostles beg Jesus to get rid of her. Why? Because she is nothing but bad news. The woman was a Canaanite – the arch enemy of the Jews for centuries. This Canaanite woman goes into the public square which is reserved for men only. She shouts out to a man, not any man, but Jesus. She calls him the Son of David. 

No woman in her right mind would ever think of doing this. Her loud cries would certainly attract the authorities and they would all get tossed into jail. 

With the toughest language Jesus ever used, he tells her his mission is to the Jews. It cannot be shared with dogs – which is how the Jews regarded the Canaanites. Matthew is not writing a pretty Hallmark card of Jesus for his readers. Mark in his 7th Chapter tells the same story. We’re hearing about Jesus, warts and all. 

This Canaanite woman is not frightened by this Jewish miracle-worker. She gives it right back to him. She has no love for this Jew, but she believes he could still cure her daughter. She has a very sick child, so she is willing to swallow his insults. The Canaanite woman is going for the gold – the cure of her daughter!

This woman proves to be one of the most remarkable people in all of the Gospels. She digs in. She does battle with Jesus and she wins. She proves to be the wordsmith Jesus is and even better! She hits him right between the eyes with her famous reply: “Lord, even the dogs get the crumbs from the owner’s table.” She wants the whole loaf – the cure of her child.

Jesus’ irritability and even his manners tell us that he was strung out. His nerves must have been shot. The heat in the square was over 100 degrees. So when he is confronted by this courageous woman, unlike most of us, he does not hold on to his anger. Jesus admits to his bad manners. He honors the woman by learning from her. Yes, Jesus too, at age 33, has things to learn. She has beaten him at the word game of which he was the master. Jesus probably even laughed at himself. 

Jesus also salutes her faith. In Matthew’s Gospel, she is the only person whose faith he calls great. She is also great because she is the only person in any of the Gospels who beats Jesus in a public debate – a Canaanite woman, no less, in a very macho society. Is this not a real picture of Jesus – warts and all?

Thanks to Nano Erdozain for the photo.

Do YOU let Jesus see YOUR warts and all when YOU have honest, straightforward discussions with him?


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