When Jesus Changed His Mind

When Jesus Changed His Mind


Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is an ordained UCC clergyperson. He has served congregations in both the UCC and the ELCA, including the Congregational Church of Union, Second Congregational Church in Manchester, Christ the King Lutheran in Windsor and most recently Grace Lutheran Church in Plainville. He also worked for 43 years in the field of education. He served as a counselor in the South Windsor public schools for 30 years and retired in 2019. He has written several books including his newly published Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?, recently released by Energion Publications.  He is currently active doing supply preaching.

Scripture: Matthew 15:21-28 (NRSV)

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection:  When Jesus Changed His Mind



If we take the time to either read or listen to this passage carefully, it would be quite natural for us to feel surprised by what Jesus said in his interaction with this woman.  His response that He "was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" stands out and may seem shocking to us as well.

If we were to pause and think through this passage, we could most likely feel that the way Jesus responds here simply does not seem like Jesus at all! 

What evolves, however, as we go through this story is a recognition that as Jesus lived out His life, He began to see things differently throughout His journey.  In fact, it became quite clear that He was quite willing to challenge some of the assumptions that were part of the mindset of those who perceived themselves as quite religious.  Jesus' personal response to the woman conveys a spiritual depth that transcends the approach found in the legalism found in much of religious practice and in his process of shaping that response, causes him to consider the meaning of his own faith as well. 
This is a scriptural selection that speaks powerfully to the humanity of Jesus and the recognition that Jesus was shaped by the religious traditions of his time. His direct statement "I was sent ONLY to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" can quite readily cause concern for those of us who see Jesus as someone whose approach to life and faith is far more inclusive than what is found in those who "cling to traditions."  It is a passage that can really cause consternation indeed.
However, the beauty and the power of this passage is that Jesus changes His mind.......AND in that change conveys a message of inclusion. There was a profound recognition WITHIN Jesus that while He WAS sent to the "lost sheep" of the house of Israel, He was also sent in many other directions as well. In this case, Jesus makes clear, this woman's faith broke through any traditional legalistic barriers that were present in the religious understandings of His time and place. It is in our understanding of HIS faith that we are able to break through barriers as well, barriers that are often associated with what constitutes "religion."
This passage speaks powerfully to the heart and soul of religion as understood by Jesus. In so doing, it speaks both powerfully and profoundly to OUR faith as well. What is clear in this message is that, despite the impact of religious traditions, there is something far broader and significant than the mere presence of tradition in living out one's religious faith. Jesus' own personal reflection on the reality in front of him as He engaged in dialogue with this woman provides thought-provoking material for us to consider.

In this dialogue, Jesus affirms that His faith is NOT the narrow faith found in much of "organized religion". Instead it is a faith put into practice by meetings the needs of ALL, each in their own unique circumstances!  It is THIS FAITH which constitutes the HEART and SOUL of OUR FAITH in this remarkable man, Jesus of Nazareth!


Let us pray: Loving God, as we seek to follow Jesus, help us move ever more closely to the heart and soul of faith. May we be inspired by Jesus and open to breaking down the barriers between people wherever they exist. May we learn by His example and live out that example as we struggle through the complexities of everyday living. This do we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Marlene Gasdia-Cochrane at cochranem@sneucc.org.

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For the people of Ukraine whose lives continue to be shattered by war, as well as the many landscapes that are currently embroiled in conflicts.
  • For those grieving or suffering due to the ~26,400 gun violence deaths that happened in the US since the start of the year.
  • For those suffering from the extreme weather conditions.

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

This Week in History:

August 18, 1920 (103 years ago):  The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote, and "enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship." [History

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Bob R. LaRochelle

Rev. Dr. Robert R. LaRochelle is an ordained UCC clergyperson who has served churches in Union and Manchester, Connecticut, as well as ELCA churches in Windsor, Wethersfield, and Plainville, Connecticut. He also worked as a teacher and counselor in ...

August 14, 2023
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