In the first century A.D., news traveled primarily by word of mouth, and walking was how most people got from one place to another. Therefore, you wouldn’t expect someone to become famous overnight like sometimes happens today with the internet and satellite TV spreading information around the world instantaneously. Although Jesus didn’t become famous overnight, news of his miracles spread very quickly, and it wasn’t long before he couldn’t go anywhere within the region of Judea and Jerusalem without being recognized. Even in the areas of wilderness where there were no residents, multitudes of people flocked to hear Jesus teach (Matthew 14:15, 15:33). After a second incident in which Jesus fed thousands of people that had come to hear him preach, Matthew tells us, “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon” (Matthew 15:21). These two pagan cities were located outside the boundaries of the territory settled by the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land, and would have most likely not had anyone living there who worshipped God. And yet, Matthew said after Jesus arrived, “And behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil” (Matthew 15:22).
Mark’s account of the incident indicated the woman who came to Jesus was not Jewish, but “a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation” (Mark 7:26). Of course, there is no way of knowing how this woman actually heard about Jesus or came to believe that he could expel the demon that possessed her daughter, but it is likely that this Canaanite woman knew someone that had been to Galilee and had witnessed Jesus do the very same thing. Afterward, Jesus left the area and returned to the sea of Galilee by way of the coasts of Decapolis, suggesting he elected to travel by ship in order to avoid any further interruptions. Upon his arrival, Mark reported, “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him” (Mark 7:32). Clearly, Jesus’ fame was spreading so quickly that he could no longer avoid interruptions, no matter where he went or what mode of travel he chose. Mark reported, “And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mark 7:36-37).