Mark 7:24-9:1 notes

 Tyre

 [24] 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.

That Jesus is in Tyre is noteworthy because it's a place completely outside of the Jewish region. Up to this point Jesus has never travelled to such a place during his ministry. 

In the preceding passage Jesus redefines what it is that makes a person unclean. In this passage, Jesus further clarified - by being challenged - who the gospel is for.  

 

The Woman 

  [25] In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure 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.

The details that are given about the woman are all a way of understanding that she is completely unqualified to be dealing with Jesus, a rabbi.

  • She is a Gentile (born in Phoenicia)
  • She is Greek - that is, religiously she is a pagan, not a God worshipper.
  • She is a woman - so challenging a rabbi isn't supposed to be happening.

Yet she comes and won't stop begging him for help.

 

Harsh? 

Jesus isn't looking to insult this woman by referring to her and her family as "dogs".

Most commentators point out that Jesus is instead teaching by way of parable and using an illustration to make a point that his mission was to being good news Israel first.

Also noted is that Jesus isn't using the word for dog (as a scavenger more common for Jewish people) but instead using the word for dogs as pets (as was more the case for Greek custom). 

He's saying, "you're a mom, you know how it is - you have to feed the kids first and then you can feed the pets." 

Her eventual response to Jesus and how he blesses it indicates how the message of Jesus is for all people. 

She accepts Jesus view of there being an order to things and that she is on the back end of it but she stresses that everyone, even dogs like her will eat. She won't let go of this. And Jesus blesses this challenge and faith.  

This is such an important reminder that we don't approach Jesus based on how worthy or unworthy we are; rather we're taught here to approach Jesus because of how good he is. 

 

Sign Language 

[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.

Jesus is doing some very demonstrative actions in the midst of healing this man. But we've read, even in the way Jesus helped the woman's daughter just before that no such gestures were necessary for Jesus (unlike other miracle workers of Jesus' day). 

What Jesus is actually doing is sign language. It's a simple picture of Jesus' care for people - that he does what he can to communicate with them, to let them know what he's about to do. 

 

Signs of the Messiah 

[32] There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

The word to describe the man’s difficulty with speech occurs only twice in the Greek version of the whole Bible, here and in Isaiah 35:6.

Isaiah 35:4-6 NIV

[4] say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” [5] Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. [6] Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

This passage from Isaiah speaks of the coming Messiah and how restored hearing and speech are indicators of the Messiah. Mark, in his gospel, wants to help people answer the question, "who is Jesus?"

Rather than the nationalistic expectations people had of the Messiah (military leader, overthrow any foreign oppressor) Jesus is to be understood on his own terms. He's one to show us what he Messiah is has come to do. 

 

Redefining Messiah

Mark 8:27-9:1 is all about how Jesus is now more explicit about who he is, what kind of Messiah he is and what the Messiah has come to do, namely how he must suffer and lay down his life. 

 

This isn't the Messiah they were looking for or expecting. We often can let ourselves slip away from who Jesus actually is and the life he calls us to embrace. 

The question, "who do you say I am?" is one we have to answer everyday. We can rightly call him Messiah, recall, by his Word, what kind of Messiah he is and what he did for us, and then follow him wherever he may lead us.

Or we can say he's the Messiah but the kind where we can choose when and to where we'll follow him. 

If we're honest, we probably go back and forth between the two. But we can be grateful that, just like he did for his disciples in Mark's gospel, Jesus won't stop telling us who he is, giving us oppotunities to see if how he's good and worthy. 

Keep looking for Jesus. Follow him as best and as simply as you can in obeying and trusting his word. May you come to find yourself saying he is the Messiah and "He has done everything well." (Mark 7:37)