Summary: Jesus desires to get away for a time of solitude with his disciples but it isn';t to be
September 9, 2018
Jesus Ministers 24/7 with Compassion and Pity
As we read and ponder Mark’s gospel reading for today, one cannot help but picture Jesus seeking a little time to get away from the crowds and the harangue of the Pharisees that followed him everywhere He went. Here, Jesus takes his disciples and heads out of town – even out of the region and into the land of Gentiles. He is to spend a considerable time alone with this group of men, Dr. McKenna refers to it as a walking seminar.
They no sooner arrive in the region of Tyre and Sidon than He is approached by a Greek woman who in desperation gets right to the point with Jesus, asking Him to cast an evil demon out of her daughter.
“For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” Mark 7:25-26
Even in a foreign land, Jesus cannot escape His ministry calling. In Matthew’s account, Jesus simply ignored her, and His disciples encouraged Him to send her away. After all, she is a Gentile not a Jew. Also, they are in the midst of taking a sabbatical, away from public ministry.
“But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” Matthew 15:23
We don’t know anything more about this woman, but we soon find out that she has faith and she has determination. She persists in humility and faithful worship.
“Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” Matthew 15:25
Jesus continues to rebuff her saying: “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” I don’t believe that Jesus was actually calling the Gentile child a dog or even referring to Gentiles as dogs. My personal belief is that He was simply using a metaphor to make a point. And what was that point? His ministry was to the Jews but not necessarily to the exclusion of non-Jews, Rather, Jesus was saying that He will minister to the Jews and Then to the others.
Did this reply deter the poor woman at all? Not at all! She came right back at Him: “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Verse 27
Again, we see a humble fortitude and the strength of childlike faith. It must have really touched Jesus as He responded:
“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” Verse 28
I cannot help but believe that Jesus was very pleased and encouraged by this Gentile woman’s persistent faith and humble worship. I also believe that Jesus is just as pleased today to experience that same humble persistence and faith.
We are to recognize His divinity, His sovereignty and His compassion. It’s often difficult to hang on to that kind of faith when we don’t realize immediate results. Here we are supposedly mature Christians learning a lesson from a foreign, non-discipled person, heretofore a non-believer.
Here is a lesson to be permanently imbedded in our hearts!
Now as we move on with Jesus and His journey, still seeking a little time away from throngs and public ministry demands, we find them at the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee near Decapolis. Can’t you just imagine the scenario? They arrive tired, dusty, hungry and in need of rest? From my maps, I see the distance from Sidon and Tyre to Decapolis (or that region) to be quite a hike, at least fifty miles. They most likely trudged it on foot as there were no greyhound buses available.
Before they had a chance to get any rest, they were approached by a group of people with a deaf mute, begging Jesus to restore his speech and hearing. Who are all these people? My bible doesn’t say but it doesn’t appear to be family but rather neighbors and people of compassion. We believe that the poor fellow was in need of having his speech and hearing restored. The loss was most likely the result of some physical accident or serious illness. Why do I think so? Well, nothing is impossible for Jesus but we read in verse 35:
“Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.”
His ears were opened, meaning that he could hear. If he had never been able to hear, he would have no idea at all what any of the noises were that now came flooding in. Likewise, we read that he spoke plainly. If he was deaf and mute for all his life, he certainly would not have the ability to speak plainly in an instant from Jesus touching him.