Just something I've always wondered.
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 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.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Jesus was neither anti-Caananite, nor was He racist against the non-Jewish people.
This incident and narrative were meant to highlight the contrast between the Jewish disbelief in the promised Messiah despite their selection by God and preparation for Him and the amazing faith of a Gentile WOMAN (not only non-Jewish, but also a woman!) despite the fact that the Gentiles were not selected by God and not prepared for the coming of the Messiah. (The narrative of Jesus' dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4 contains the same theme and motifs.)
The Caananite woman was actually tested by Jesus, and she passed her test with flying colours. The test of faith given by Jesus to the woman contained three questions/sections/phases:
1) Jesus ignored the woman altogether: but the woman did not leave.
2) Jesus responded to the woman upon the request of the disciples and told her that the scope of His mission excluded her: but the woman did not leave.
3) Jesus finally reminded the woman of Israel's primacy/exalted status in God's sight, but the woman neither objected nor left. Instead, she gave a wise answer and predicted that the Gentiles would receive the grace of salvation after the Jews.
Jesus announced that the woman passed the test of faith and praised the greatness of her faith. As a reward, the woman got the healing miracle that she had asked for.
These three phases may have also corresponded to the three periods in the history of God's salvation:
1) People fell into sin, were alienated from God, and they needed salvation.
2)God chose Abraham and created a nation from his offspring.
3) God sent the Messiah to Israel, then salvation in Christ was extended to the Gentiles.
If some people tell you that Jesus was a nationalist or racist Jew who hated the Gentiles, ask them to read Luke 4:16-31 first, and then remind them that Jesus drew a parallelism between Jonah the prophet and Himself while predicting His greatest miracle: the resurrection. Jonah was a prophet who had been sent to the Gentiles!