How would you respond if someone called you a "dog". I guess it might not elicit the politest response from us? Here's a surprise: in Mark 7 Jesus calls you a dog. Well - to be more precise he calls the whole world (apart from the Jewish nation) dogs. Let me expand on just how shocking Jesus statement is. He is approached by a gentile woman who has a little daughter in desperate need. She has been possessed by an evil spirit and is in terrible suffering. You'd have thought that a case like this would provoke Jesus' tender kindness wouldn't you - surely? But listen to what Jesus says to this women.
"Let the children be fed first for it is not right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs." Wow! In other words - because you are not one of God's people, I am not going to help you. Instead I am going to call you a dog. But the story gets even more surprising at that point. The woman made the most extraordinary reply, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." In other words - she was willing to accept Jesus' description of her as a dog (with all its connotations of being unclean and unworthy) because she knew this was the only person in the world who could make her daughter better. And so she stands as a picture of what true faith looks like. We not only believe what Jesus says about himself, but we also believe what Jesus says about us: that we are unclean, unworthy and undeserving of any of God's kindness. And, despite being a Gentile, because of this faith of hers, Jesus says, " For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter."
And so the gospel starts to go global.