As John Calvin notes, the healing of the daughter of the Canaanite woman (described in Matthew 15 and Mark 7) shows ‘in what manner the grace of Christ began to flow to the Gentiles’. The account also gives us a vivid picture of what true faith in Christ is and how it acts. In Rutherford’s words, ‘To any seeking Jesus Christ, this text cries, “Come and see”.’
In twenty-seven eloquent sermons, Rutherford expounds the incident. What he sees in it most of all is the free grace of God: ‘Christ, for this cause especially, left the bosom of God, and was clothed with flesh and our nature, that he might be…a sea and boundless river of visible, living, and breathing grace, swelling up to the highest banks…’ Rutherford would have us observe here ‘a flower planted and watered by Christ’s own hand-a strong faith in a tried woman.’
To encourage us to persist in seeking such grace, Rutherford explains both the trial and the triumph of saving faith.
Samuel Rutherford (1600–61) played a major role as a reformer at the Westminster Assembly and was also a crucial figure in the establishment of Presbyterianism for Scotland in 1689.