In this miracle (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30), Jesus uses His meeting with a pagan woman from beyond the borders of Judea to illustrate the future potential of the Gentiles. While Christ spent most of His time ministering to Israelites (Matthew 15:24), on a few occasions He did mercifully intervene on behalf of Gentiles.
The Gentile identity of the woman who sought exorcism for her daughter is emphasized three times in the accounts: in Matthew 15:22, she is "of Canaan"; and in Mark 7:26, she is called both "a Greek" and "a Syro-Phoenician," a person from Phoenicia, then regarded as part of Syria. Jesus performs this miracle in the coastal area of Tyre and Sidon, the same area where Elijah performed the miracles of providing meal in the barrel and raising the Gentile widow's son from the dead (I Kings 17:8-24).
Later, the apostle Paul stopped at Tyre and met with some Christians there (Acts 21:3-4), showing some of the influence Christ had on these Gentiles. Not only was this miracle part of that influence, but Luke 6:17-20 also tells us that many from that area came to Judea, bringing their sick and demon-possessed to Christ for healing.
Regarding the exorcism of the daughter, we see that Christ declares the girl to be healed, and it is so. Clearly, the woman believes that distance does not matter regarding Christ's power to heal, for when Jesus tells her to go home and that her daughter is healed, she leaves Him with complete confidence that His word is true and omnipotent. She is another of Jesus' "other sheep" (John 10:16), a Gentile, not an Israelite to whom He had primarily come. She undoubtedly made this miracle known to other Gentiles, opening the door for the apostles to proclaim Christ's purpose for coming into the world: to bring salvation one day to all humanity.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Syro-Phoenician (Part Two)
When Jesus exorcised a Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30), it was a time of peril for Him. Herod was suspicious, and the Pharisees no longer concealed their loathing of Him, having become openly hostile toward Him. Although many of the common people were enthusiastic over His marvelous works and profound teachings, many were also deeply offended by some of His words, which exposed them as sinners.
So Jesus saw a need to seek seclusion to rest and instruct His disciples in private. Mark records, however, "But He could not be hidden." The glory of Christ's teaching and miracles could not be concealed in this darkened world.
The disciples' appeal to get rid of the woman reveals their weariness of the crowd's incessant pleas for Jesus' intervention. Her persistent cries for her daughter's healing were just another aggravation and too much to deal with.
As a Phoenician, the woman would likely have worshipped the mother-goddess "Ashtoreth" or "Astarte," also known as "the Queen of heaven," who was thought to be the giver of all life. This goddess supposedly allowed her worshippers to do all sorts of evil. This woman, then, from a background of total paganism, sought divine mercy both for herself and for her demon-possessed daughter.
Matthew's account expresses that the daughter was badly demonized, totally insane and disabled. Her anxious mother, unable to do anything for her relief, pleads with Jesus for mercy on her and her daughter. She addresses Him as "Lord," revealing her respect for Him as having authority and superiority. In calling Him "the Son of David," she recognizes Him as Israel's Messiah. She identifies herself with her daughter's need, implying that healing her daughter would mean mercy for her, as her child's misery was her own. No doubt, the merciful Jesus anticipated her need for Him as He had with others (John 5:6).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Exorcising a Syro-Phoenecian (Part One)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 15:21: