Summary: This is a message on bringing all your hurt and pain to Jesus; it was originally preached in preparation for Holy Communion.
COME AND GO!--MARK 7:24-30
--by R. David Reynolds
I do not know for certain who this Syrophoenician woman was, but somehow I picture her as a single parent with a real problem. Her encounter with Jesus is told here by Mark and by Matthew in Chapter fifteen of his Gospel. The fact that the various translations call her “woman” leads me to believe she may have been a single parent, for the term in the original text could just as easily have been translated “wife,” but as far as I know, none of the translations ever choose that rendition. The difference between using wife or woman always depends on the context. Perhaps her husband remained at home to watch their little girl while she came to Jesus, but perhaps too she was a widow or a single Mom for another reason.
At any rate, I truly admire her faith that brought her to Jesus that day in the region of Tyre. Being a disciple of Jesus is a process of “coming and going;” and, therefore, the title of today’s message is “Come and Go.” In fact, many of the words in Scripture can be translated by either of these words in English.
Forms of the words “come” and “go” appear three times in our text this morning: (1.) Verse 25, “a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.” (2.) Verse 29, “And He said to her, ‘Because of this answer, go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’” (3.) Verse 30, “And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.” When we are obedient to Jesus, we can bring our greatest need, hurt, and pain to Him and go in peace. How is this woman an example of that truth for us to follow today?
First of all, like each of us, this woman had a hurt. Her “little daughter had and unclean spirit,” a demon. She was possessed by a satanic force. Now the signs of demon possession include: abnormal behavior; speaking in a different voice; sometimes the powers of telepathy and clairvoyance. Oftentimes the possessed person would become violent and out of control.
When Jesus, Peter, James, and John came down from the Mount of Transfiguration in Mark, Chapter nine, they found a father seeking help for his son who was demon possessed; the desperate father cries out in Mark 9:18, “. . . and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” Sometimes demon possession could cause blindness and dumbness.
Many cultures have looked to epilepsy as demon possession, but the Bible never equates epilepsy with demon possession. Indeed the young man’s symptoms in Mark, Chapter nine appear much more violent than epilepsy, an illness whose nature is still not full understood. Is demon possession still a real phenomenon, missionaries especially would say a resounding, “Yes,” but that subject is for another sermon or Bible Study. Suffice it to say, this Mother had a real concern for her daughter, and both of them were hurting.
This Mother had a hurt, but she had also heard about Jesus, the One on Whom Peter invites us all, “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He care for you (I Peter 5:7).” Having heard of Him, she “immediately came and fell at His feet.” What does it really mean to hear Jesus? Many of us have heard of Him since our days in the Sunday School “Cradle Roll.” We can give you a pretty good idea of Who this Jesus is. Although we have heard about Him, have we really heard Him? In the Old Testament hearing God meant seeking Him by obedient action. One had truly heard God who committed his or her life to Him in total surrender according to Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find Me when you search for me with all your heart.” To hear God in the Old Testament meant seeking and searching for Him with all one’s heart.
In the New Testament hearing Jesus is related to obeying His Word; hearing Jesus means we accept Him for Who He Is, “the One Who has the words of eternal life and is the Holy One of God” as Peter confessed in our text a couple of weeks ago. To hear Jesus is to receive His grace and obey His call to repentance. This Mom “after hearing of Him . . . came and fell at His feet.”
She came in obedience, without delay; she came “immediately.” Coming to Jesus is an individual commitment; it is standing out above the crowd, not following the crowd. In Mark Chapter Five, Jesus asked the crowd who were present when the woman with the issue of blood touched His garment and was healed, “Who touched me.” Mark tells us she made that individual step of coming to Jesus, she stepped out of the crowd: “But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell before Him and told Him the whole truth (Mark 5:33).” This is the same step of faith this Mother took when she came to Jesus. When we truly hear Jesus, we come to Him with our burden, our hurt, our pain, and our need.