Again, we have an example of a little snippet which is so easily forgotten when considering the ministry of Jesus, but is revelatory when studied! Tyre and Sidon were situated along the coast, around forty miles from Capernaum. We don't really know why Jesus was there-it may have been because of the relentless persecution He faced in His home areas- but it appears that He spent much of His ministry on the move, walking hundreds of miles during His three years' ministry. What we can note immediately then is that Jesus is in Gentile territory. Jesus has already wiped out the distinction between clean and unclean foods; now He demonstrates that those the Jews regarded as unclean were clean in God's eyes, they too had their place in God's Kingdom. Rejection from the Jews became opportunity for the Gentiles.
If we look even more deeply, we will recognise that this territory of Tyre and Sidon was intended by God to be part of the land promised to the Israelites, Joshua 19 v 28, 29. They had never been able to subdue it, but the love of Jesus proved victorious where sheer force had proved wanting!
Again, we have a story where a parent comes to Jesus in great need. Clearly, His fame had spread! Jesus' reply to the mother seems at first to be shocking. Dogs were not generally the loved pets which they are now. However, Jesus uses the Aramaic word which does not describe the wild dogs of the streets, but the little lap dogs of the home. Jesus tested the woman, but did not shut the door to her daughter being healed. Israel had the first offer of the Gospel and the woman was Greek. This is important for more than one reason, in that Greeks loved repartee and the woman recognises that Jesus is speaking with love and with a smile. She answers Him brilliantly and Jesus recognises that and the heart for her child beneath it. Her faith had been tested, but had been proved real and her daughter is healed remotely.
Where would we be if the Gospel had been only for the Jews? We should be grateful for such as this Syro-Phoenician woman who was one of the first among billions of people to turn to Jesus and experience healing.