Approaching in Humility
Dear God, Your life is my peace. Your love is my hope. I wait on a word from You today.
Read MARK 7:24–30
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. 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.
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 the dogs.”
28 “Lord,” she replied, “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.
New International Version (NIV)
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The compassion of Jesus is amazing. His initial focus is on Israel, but he readily responded to anyone who recognized their need and his ability to meet it.
As a mother, I recognize that boundaries matter. When my daughter was tiny these boundaries were quite narrowly confined, but as she gets older, they are expanding. In today’s reading we see that just as the spiritual boundaries in the Old Testament Law are expanding as a result of Jesus’ ministry (Mark 7:14–25), so too the racial boundary of Israel is going to expand to include the Gentiles, even if not immediately.
This is not the most comfortable reading. We do not mind Jesus being rude to Pharisees and Sadducees—but rude to a woman who comes seeking his help? We should not minimize the sharpness of Jesus’ response to the woman. However, Jesus has come with a specific mission, to proclaim the kingdom of God to Israel (cf. Matt.
10:5–7). This good news must be proclaimed first to Israel (“the children,” 27), but this does not exclude a future ministry to Gentiles, precisely because the comment “first let” (27) suggests that the situation will change (see John 10:16; Rom. 2:9,10; 11:13–24).
Additionally, the woman, in humility, accepts the designation “dogs” (28) and, unlike the disciples in the previous chapters, actually understands what Jesus is saying. She accepts the implication that the time for the Gentiles is not yet, but her faith and response to Jesus results in his receiving her request. The woman came in humility and did not presume upon Jesus’ mercy for her daughter. In
the same way, we cannot presume on God’s mercy. Humility is required as we approach him with a “broken and contrite heart,” which God “will not despise” (Psa. 51:17).
Jesus wept over Jerusalem and Paul agonized over his people (Luke 19:41; Rom. 9:1–5). How do you feel about the Jewish people?
Lord, I lift up to You the Jewish people today. Enlighten their minds with the truth of Jesus. I pray for a turning to You.