Miracles of Jesus: Healing a Woman's Demon-Possessed Daughter

Bible Records Woman Asking Jesus to Exorcise an Evil Spirit From Her Little Girl

Jesus miracle healing demon possessed exorcism
The Bible describes a desperate mother asking Jesus Christ to miraculously heal her little girl from a demon that has been possessing and tormenting her. Gerard Fritz / Photographer’s Choice / Getty Images

The Bible describes a desperate mother asking Jesus Christ to miraculously heal her little girl from a demon that has been possessing and tormenting her. In the memorable conversation that Jesus and the woman have, Jesus at first resists helping her daughter, but then decides to grant her request because of the great faith that the woman shows. Two Gospel reports present the story of this famous miracle: Mark 7:24-30 and Matthew 15: 21-28.

Here's the story, with commentary:

Falling at His Feet

Mark 7:24-25 begins his report by describing how Jesus arrived in the region after leaving the Gennesaret area, where he had miraculously healed many people and news of those healings had traveled to other towns: "Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. ... She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter."

Lord, Help Me!

Matthew 15:23-27 describes what happens this way: "Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, 'Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.'

He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.'

The woman came and knelt before him. 'Lord, help me!' she said.

He replied, 'It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.'

'Yes it is, Lord,' she said. 'Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.'

Jesus’ comment about taking children’s bread and tossing it to dogs may seem cruel outside of the context in which he said it.

The phrase "children's bread" refers to the old covenant promises that God had made to help the children of Israel -- the Jewish people who had faithfully worshiped the living God, rather than idols. When Jesus used the word "dogs," he wasn’t comparing the woman to a canine animal, but instead using the terminology that Jews used for the Gentile people of that time, who often lived in wild ways that offended the faithful among the Jews. Also, Jesus may have been testing the woman's faith by saying something that could provoke a gut-level, honest response from her.

Your Request is Granted

The story concludes in Matthew 15:28: "Then Jesus said to her, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' And her daughter was healed at that moment."

At first, Jesus resisted answering the woman’s request, because he was sent to minister to Jewish people before Gentiles, in order to fulfill ancient prophecies. But Jesus was so impressed by the faith that the woman showed when she persisted in asking that he decided to help her.

In addition to faith, the woman showed humility, respect, and trust by telling Jesus that she’d gratefully accept any leftovers of his miraculous power that may enter her life (like dogs eating crumbs from children’s food underneath a table).

In that society at that time, men wouldn’t have taken her argument seriously, because they didn’t allow women to try to convince them to do something. But Jesus did take the woman seriously, granted her request, and complimented her for asserting herself.