Summary: What is the real nature of faith? We often think it is blind trust in Jesus to give us what we ask for. In reality faith means a transformation of how you think of life, needs, and your relationship with Jesus.
In this portion of Chapters 7 and 8 Jesus puts His men into several situations to show them what it means to rely on Jesus. Sadly, they don’t get it, but it gives us some great direction on how to trust Jesus in our lives. We leave a situation where Jesus encountered the Pharisees who thought they had external holiness down to a “t” but were inside filled with brokenness and evil. We next come to find a person who had no external appearance that would have been favored in that day—but internally she has what it takes to move Jesus.
The area of Tyre and Sidon is about 30 miles northwest from where He was on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This was a port area on the Mediterranean with deep Canaanite roots. At times this area was on friendly terms with Israel, and at other times it was not (like when Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C.). Jesus and His men went, presumably, to a Jewish home in order to get some time to rest away from crowds But, alas, such was not the case.
25 – 26
This woman had two strikes against her: she was a Greek, and a Canaanite at that; and she was a woman. Yet such is the love of a mother for her daughter that nothing would stop her from finding healing. Doesn’t this remind you of the story of Jairus the synagogue ruler in chapter 5? There, a father pleads for his only daughter—this woman had no position, culture or even gender to make her worthy—yet she comes. Such is the wonder of Jesus that those who have nothing to offer are given everything. Yet we see here a little interchange—Jesus wants the woman to realize just how strong her faith in Jesus really is!
27 – 28
Jesus probably switched to Greek here, out of His native Aramaic. Jesus speaks to her in a parable—but not using the derogatory “wild dogs” that Jews used as a label for Gentiles—instead He used the Greek word for a household pet. The idea is that kids are served first at dinner, then whatever vegetables they dislike are passed under the table to the doggies! She doesn’t skip a beat but realizes that Jesus is talking about Jews and Gentiles—and that He, as a Jew, would provide for His people first. Jesus came first to the Jews but always intended for the gospel to go out from there to the entire world (John 4:22 for instance). But in Jesus’ parable she sees that the dogs are provided for as well. Perhaps some of the “leftovers” from Jews who rejected Jesus could be hers?
29 – 30
Jesus is obviously delighted with this woman’s faith and focus. She passed His test of her understanding with flying colors—know your need, acknowledge Jesus as Lord (she addressed Him as Lord), and let nothing stop you—even Jesus’ conditions. It doesn’t mean she is less than, but all must come to the cross on Jesus’ terms, not our own. We don’t make our own deal with God.
Jesus showed the immensity of His power in that the demon was thrown out without Jesus touching the girl, being present, or even speaking a word. Wow!
31 – 32
The Decapolis was on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had been there before—releasing the man possessed with the legion of demons. The man had wanted to come with Jesus but instead the Lord told him to be a witness. That is apparently exactly what he did and when Jesus came back to this predominately Gentile area, people came to Him for healing.
The deaf-mute could not ask Jesus for healing so his friends brought him and begged the Lord to touch him. It’s fascinating how Jesus goes about healing him.
33 – 35
First Jesus takes the man away—Jesus was not about doing a miracle healing show but touching this man’s life personally and privately. Mark is the only one who records this miracle. Jesus does two unusual things. First, He places His fingers in the man’s ears, then spits (presumably on His hand) then touches the man’s tongue. I think this is cool because Jesus is communicating to the man in a way he could understand, not with words but with actions. It’s like Jesus is using some form of sign language saying “I’m going to heal your hearing and your ability to speak.” Spittle, by the way, was thought at the time to have healing powers.
Jesus then looked up, to the source of power (the Father), sighed (perhaps in sympathy to the man’s condition) then spoke one simple word in Aramaic: “Be opened.” Often deaf people can speak, but because they don’t hear the sound their speech is not clear. Once this man’s ears were opened he was able to speak clearly.