DON’T DESPISE LEFTOVERS
Lord, you are no respecter of persons.
Read MARK 7:24–30
Jesus Honors a Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[a] 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.
a Mark 7:24 Many early manuscripts Tyre and Sidon
New International Version (NIV)
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“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). Thank you, Jesus, that you reach out to everyone.
The mission of Jesus involves proclaiming the good news about God and His kingdom, casting out demons, and healing the sick (1:14,15,34–39). But the good news is not limited to Israel. In 4:35 – 5:20, we saw Jesus journey into Gentile territory, and here in verses 24–30 He revisits a Gentile region. Later, Jesus will declare that before the end comes, this good news must be proclaimed to all nations (13:10). It is therefore no coincidence that, after Mark introduces Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God (1:1), these very aspects of his identity are acknowledged by a Jew (8:29)and a Gentile (15:39).
The Master’s reply to this Syrophoenician woman in verse 27seems harsh and puzzling. Earlier He has ministered to Gentiles without hesitation (3:7–10; 5:1–13), but now He seems to confine His mission to Israel (“the children”) and not to the Gentiles (“the dogs”). Still, Jesus leaves room for negotiation. In fact, He only indicates Jewish priority in his mission: “let the children be fed first” (RT France, The Gospel of Mark, Eerdmans, 2002, p298). But this woman is remarkably perceptive. She acknowledges the order of priority and her position as a “dog”, but by adding a table and crumbs to His illustration, she “repositions the dogs in order to describe a scenario that includes her daughter” (KR Iverson, Gentiles in the Gospel of Mark, T&T Clark, 2007, p54).
Driven by her need, this Gentile woman is undeterred by Jesus’ tart challenge and uses wit to claim a healing for her daughter. Jesus commends her insight and response. This episode must be understood against the background of Jesus’ miraculous feedings in Mark 6 and 8. After “the children” of Israel are filled, the disciples gather plenty of leftovers (6:42, 43; 8:8) – pointing toward the extension of the Lord’s mission to Gentiles!
Do we recognize the good news of God’s all-embracing love and reflect that in our interactions with people?
Lord, as your Gentile bride we are so grateful that you have included us into the family of God.