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Dogs Sitting at the Table , By Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Scraps From the Table….

“First let the children eat all they want,” he (Jesus) told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

                                                                                                                                               (NIV) Mark 7:27-29

Our dog Viarra loves this passage… the way she exegetes the text it makes her feel like she has the right to sit at the table and join in on our meals. No need to wait for the scraps. For most of us, however, there is a different message in the text. That message is that the promised Savior for the Jews is also coming for all of us who will believe and receive His message. Indeed, we are not subject just to the scraps off the table, but to a seat at the table. Jesus does not restrict His gifts to only a chosen nation or a chosen few but offers it freely to all who will believe!

“Wait a minute!”, you might be saying. “Jesus, only responded by offering her scraps… how do you get that she received a seat at the table?”

Well, quite simply, the miracle that Jesus performed was not just a tidbit but a part of what the promised Savior was to do. We see that a part of His testimony of works was to cast demons out of the Gadarene Demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). And then later, in a somewhat parallel story to this one where a non-Jew is granted by faith the gifts of Jesus, Jairus’ daughter is brought back from the dead! (Mark 5:21-24) These actions aren’t just scraps from the table… they may be “leftovers,” but they are a whole meal for the people who received them. In some ways, Jesus’ gift to this Syrophonecian woman was repudiating the common Jewish slur of calling her race “dogs” and saying here, sit at the table and have something to eat.

But this text might have an even more important application for us today.  


 You see, it is the idea that people with much have a responsibility to share with those who have little… not just “scraps” … but “leftovers.” Yes, as Jesus said, you must first let the children eat… but you don’t let the dogs or even those you consider dogs starve.

Now, if you don’t want me to meddle in your life… stop reading now.

This passage also makes me think about our country and its great riches and wealth in our world today. I have been concerned for some time about the “America First” philosophy and ethos that has taken hold in our country. Even the name bothers me. You see, by usurping the title of “America” to mean the USA, we unconsciously belittle the other “American” nations… Canada, Mexico, and all of Central and South America.  I know it's not intended to be used that way… but that’s how it feels to our brothers and sisters outside US Boarders (kind of like our Western Slope friends who don’t like those of us on the other side of the mountains being called “Front Range”). And while we must take care of ourselves… we can’t just throw our scraps to the dogs… especially when our scraps are more like “leftovers” and can provide so many meals for those we are treating as dogs.

Obviously, I am not talking literally, even though there is plenty of food waste and gluttony in our country. In fact, those kids in China wouldn’t want our food off the dinner table by the time it got to them. But I know some kids and schools in Nicaragua, for example, that would appreciate some of the money we spend on an extra coffee treat, a DQ run, or just some of the money we spend on our pets!


Lord, help us to see the people in the world that we sometimes treat like stray dogs, objects to be ignored at best and abused at worst. Help us to give these people a seat at your table. Help us to love them as you have loved us. Amen.


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