Summary: This sermon teaches that all are loved by God and therefore the Church should reach out to everyone.

The Church is Going to the Dogs

(Mark 7:24-37)

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 "First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." 28 "Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." 29 Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter." 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. 31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. 33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). 35 At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

How many of you have dogs?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes

My very first dog-was black cocker spaniel

But we’ve had Chihuahuas—

Several muts

But one of my favorite dogs—was a Yorkie

He was very cute-Bridget loved him-got parvo and died

Most of the time when we think about dogs-we think of

Pet—“man’s best friend”

Because they are loyal—and loving

But there is another kind of dog

The vicious killers-

Like wolves and coyotes

They are dangerous –will kill even humans

But there’s a another kind of “dog”

I’m not talking about a were wolf

The term “dog” can be used-as a derogatory term for a person

When I was young-called person a dog—meant they were ugly

But now days—the term can be used sort of teasingly

“Like you ole dog!”---when person is known

for being salty character

Or--a young male who is known for being a skirt chaser

So-it has always bothered me—when I read that Jesus

The loving gracious Son of God

Compares a young mother coming to Him for help

To a dog—that sort of sounds out of character

Did He mean—she was ugly—vicious—scum bag

Why did Jesus compare this hurting mother to a dog?

We have to take a minute to consider the background

Last week-we read about Jesus being in a Jewish area

Where the Pharisees were after him

Because Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash hands before eating

They didn’t do the ceremonial cleansing ritual before they dined

Jesus—in a way-says-you guys are “barking up the wrong tree!”

Its not what food you eat that makes a person unclean before God

It’s a sin sick heart that makes person unacceptable to a Holy God

After that episode and being tired of being “hounded” by leaders

Jesus and His “pack of friends”---His disciples

Take a road trip

They travel 20 + miles up to a town called Tyre

Tyre is located in current day Syria

It was a non-Jewish area

The city of Tyre and the city of Jerusalem had a long history

From what I’ve read- both were major cities of commerce

So they were competitors of sorts

So when Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar in OT times

The people of Tyre rejoiced

Why—not only because of competition

But also because the Jews hated them—because they were Gentiles

And for those of you who know much about OT

Tyre is the home town of the famous evil Queen

Queen Jezebell

So-where is Jesus----in a Gentile area

This journey into the Gentile areas

And of all places to go—

He retreats first to Tyre!!

So here is Jesus-trying to have some “chill time”

And low and behold along comes a woman

A woman of solid gentile ancestry

Whose ancestry is tied to the Syrians-who attacked Israelites

And she wants Jesus to heal her demon possessed child

If you take Mark’s and Matthews’ account together

You see that this woman came to Jesus’ disciples

And they tried to stop her from seeing Jesus—Why?

She’s a female—in society where women not supposed to approach men

She’s gentile----from town that Jews hate

From region-Jews despise

So Jesus says its not right to take the children’s food

And toss it to the dogs

The children are the Jews----in other words Jesus saying

That God sent Him first to bring the message to Jews

Dogs—term used by Jews about Gentile

The term they usually used for dog

Meant scum-viscous dog that eats dead flesh

But Jesus uses a different term for dog

A term that means beloved house pet

And the woman catches on to what Jesus is doing

I agree with Max Lucado who thinks

Jesus and this woman were engaging in satire

Lucado asks, “ Could Jesus be so delighted to have found one who is not bartering with a religious system or proud of a heritage that He can’t resist a bit of satire?”

Jesus is sort of making fun of the Jews who thought

That God only cared about them

So He mockingly says, “Well you know I shouldn’t be throwing children’s bread to the dogs.”

Jesus is so trilled with this woman’s faith

He knows he can take care of the problem

So He uses this opportunity to teach his disciples a lesson

That God cares for ever person

Then- Jesus leaves that area—goes to what is called the Decapolis

Region of ten cities—another Gentile area

Where some people hear Jesus in town-bring man who can’t talk or hear

Who is the “They?” We don’t know

But I think its interesting that a Gentile woman

heard about Jesus and comes to Him

Now another group of Gentiles brings someone for healing

And what did Jesus do—turn them away---because they not Jew

Ignore them because they not part of the “in crowd?”

No-in both cases—he healed the people

Because He is happy that these people came to Him-had faith

So-what lessons might be learned for us as a church?

God Cares About the “Dogs” of This World.

What do I mean by that?

If the Jews were the insiders—then all Gentiles were outsiders

The outsiders—were the ones who were called dogs—by Jews

Remember what I told you

Jews used the very negative term for dogs—

Like saying—they are scum—not matter

They are just fuel for the fires of hell

So they treated them like they non human

Sort of the way-some people treat others in this world

The way some look at people who are poor

The way some look at others because skin color not the same

Or their national origin is not same as the majority

Or the way sometimes we Americans may consider those

Who live in third world countries

Or the way some Christians look at the drug addict-homosexual

But God cares about those people

Because He cares about us------

Because according to Paul—we are all “dogs” so to speak (Rom. 3:23)

I don’t mean that some of us a German shepherds-or poodles

What I mean is that to some degree the Jewish leaders were right

We are all scum-lost filthy sinners

Who stand before a Holy God

We all stand equal –all the same

We are all outsiders

Even the Jews—God special people were outsiders

Because they were sinners

And even we who call self Christians have been outsiders

Before we accepted God offer to be healed-be brought into His family

You see these Gentile people who were healed by Master

Represent all of us------it’s ONLY because of grace of God

That we are healed of our sin sickness-talked about last week

It’s only because of God’s love—

that we are invited to move from being outsiders-estranged from God

To be insiders---children of God

And that invitation is open to every single human being

God never seeks to exclude anyone

It is His desire that the entire world would be saved from sin and death

And be brought into right relationship with our maker

So before I go any further with this sermon

I want you to know—that God desires that you

Would be His precious child

Not some estranged alienated person

But church—

now the message moves to what we are supposed to do with this

If God cares about all the “dogs” of this world-

those who estranged from Him by sin

Because He cared about us when others would have called us a “dog”

That He sent His Son to bring us out of being estranged to

be close to Him

So He calls His Church to “Go to the dogs”

Because He wants His church to reach out in love

Bring those who alienated from Him—to know Him as Savior

Therefore He,

Calls Us to Inconvenient Ministry

Jesus had left Jewish area—because the religious leaders after Him

He was in need of some chill time---teach disciples

But along comes this woman-needing something from Jesus

She interrupted His Time—it wasn’t convenient

But did Jesus turn her away—no-He helped her

You see- if we are always waiting on a convenient time

To help others—share our testimony

That convenient time may never come

Many times-we church folk are willing to help

After we have checked our schedule-have nothing else to do

But real ministry happens many times at most inconvenient times

A friend calls and is hurting—and the Ala/Auburn game about to come on

You are in a hurry to get home—

and coworker suddenly shares that she going through divorce

The church is planning a missions work day

On the day you wanted to go shopping

All of these are examples of how really ministry happens

Because that’s what happened to our Lord

And so-He took time to put aside what He wanted

Because He knew-He was being given a unique opportunity

To impact a life-----for good

Secondly-this passage teaches us God

Calls Us Out of Our Comfort Zone

Jesus could’ve played it safe-stuck with what the Jews knew

He could’ve just went right along with the status quo of the time

And everything would’ve went fine for Him

He could’ve never ventured out of the Jewish areas

And instead just roll along—not make waves

Thus He could’ve avoided the cross

Life may have been relatively easy for Him

Could’ve used His power as Son of God

Developed a huge following

But-then were would we be?

Stuck in sin and death!

But no—not Jesus—He went to where was needed

He left the comfort of the status quo

Taught a new way to God

And He even taught His disciples a lesson-by stretching them

Taking them into areas they may have never known before

Like Tyre---and the Ten Cities—and Samaria

You see Jesus calls all of us who say we follow Him

To come out of our comfort zones

And do new things to bring people to know Christ.

For some that may mean having to teach a class-never taught before

For others it may mean sharing your faith with clerk at Walmart

Or it may mean going into a section of town

You would never normally go into

Or talking with a person—that is nothing like you

Or sharing loving care with a person you know does things you object to.

If we ever think being a Christian-means playing it safe

Living inside our own little bubbles—

Then have we ever got it wrong.

That’s why Jesus told His disciples right before He asended

You will be my witnesses at home---Jerusalem (the comfort zone)

Then Samaria-----the land that was full of people that Jews hated

And to all the world---way outside their comfort zones (Acts 1:8)

Thirdly, this passage teaches us that God

Calls Us to Show Compassion to All People

While its true that God has a special place in His heart for Jews

Jesus showed us-that God has compassion for ever human being

By dealing with the Gentile woman and healing her daughter

And then healing this Gentile man----He showed us that God

Does not play favorites----all who come to Him in faith will be received

Throughout the Bible God has condemned showing favoritism

To some people while neglecting others

• Because as the writer of Proverbs said, The rich and the poor have this in common—God made them all.”

• Paul says in Romans 2-God does not show favoritism

• James-the half brother of Jesus told us James 2:8-9

• “If you love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin."

The point is—we can’t just show compassion-love of Christ

To people with whom we are comfortable with

We are called to show compassion to everyone regardless

How different they may from us…

The drug addict—the sexual sinner

The homeless—the poor

The person of different color

The person who is older or younger than us

Why---because God’s grace is available for the accepting!

Our country remains in an economic recession

I believe these times represent a huge opportunity for the church

If we will reach out in the love of Christ in these trying times

We can show people that the people called Christian

Care more about them than the Democrats or Republicans

And we can introduce them to the greatest leader ever known

Who didn’t make all sorts of political promises

Instead He took decisive action---

By dying on the cross to pay for their sins

And rose from the dead to show that love triumphants over hate

Last thing this passage teaches us is…

When we minister to others even when its inconvenient

When we are willing to come out of our comfort zones

And show compassion to all people

Then Lives Will Be Transformed

The woman came to Jesus out of faith

And Jesus healed her little daughter

Now what was wrong with her—what were her symptoms

I don’t know-scripture just says she was demon possessed

So that probably meant extreme thrashing around—anger—

I imagine this poor woman had tried everything-but nothing worked

Then she heard about this man named Jesus

And all the miracles He had done

May have thought—“If only I could get my daughter to him

But—He’s Jew—He’ll never come here.”

But He does—and she hears about it

And because of Jesus’ compassion and power

The little girl’s life was forever radically changed

Because this mother intervened for her to Jesus

Same way with this Gentile man

He couldn’t hear or speak

Imagine how hard his life had to be-never knowing what people saying

Never being able to speak to someone else

But someone brought this man to Jesus-----

And this man’s life was forever changed

Folks our Lord went to where the need was

And when needs were brought to Him

Out of His great love—He dealt with them

All our Lord asks is that we bring people to Him

So that He can meet their needs

That is why….

Every church should be going to the ones the world calls “dogs”

Because Jesus went to those kind of folks

And again—who are those kind of folk

Everyone here!

None of us has the right

To look down our noise at someone else

Instead we are called to minister and bring alienated-lonely people

To the saving grace of Jesus Christ?


Do you sometime feel like an outcast

The kind of person the Jewish leaders would have called a dog?

Guess what God doesn’t see you that way

He sees you as one He loves and seeks to heal

All you have to do—is come and accept His Son

And you will become His child

How about you church folk

Are we willing to be a church that is “going to the dogs?”

Because we recognize that once we too were a “dog” an outcast

Because of our sin….and so we want to reach those who are lost?

I hope so----because that is a good thing in God’s eyes