Read Mark 7:24-30
After confronting the Pharisees on their heart problems, Jesus goes to Tyre. Jesus heads to a house, presumably for rest, with the aim that no one was to know he was there. Yet if people are desperate enough for Jesus they will always find him, and so it was for a mother on this day. Now this woman was a Gentile of Syrophoenician origin. This woman’s heritage is important to this story. See the Jewish people believed that they were God’s chosen people. And in this they were right in Genesis 12 you can read the story of God setting apart Abram to be the father of his mighty nation. To Abram and Sarai, a son is born, Isaac. Isaac grows up and marries Rebekah. Isaac and Rebekah have two sons Esau and Jacob. The stories go on but the short of it is; from the line of Jacob a mighty nation emerges that God promises (back in Genesis 12) that He will be with and through whom the whole world would be blessed.
Now the Israelites were a little proud of their relationship with God (understandably when the creator of the universe sets you apart as his people) and viewed themselves as better than all other nations – the Gentiles. They understood themselves correctly as set apart for God’s work, however for the most part they were blind to the understanding that God’s love reached beyond them to the rest of creation. They seemed to get they were God’s chosen people but missed the next part of the promise that they would be a blessing to all the families on earth.
So when this Gentile woman approaches Jesus asking that he may cast a demon out of her young daughter he at first mimics the Jewish attitude and he responds with, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and feed it to the dogs.”
Jesus’ response appears rude and overly harsh – calling this woman, who is seeking a miracle for her daughter, a dog. Yet the woman stands firm in humility, and rather than getting angry at the supposed insult, she responds “Sir even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”.
I wonder if Jesus smiled at this point? Just quietly, I think he did. The woman’s response displays both humility and wisdom, she understands what the Jewish people did not – God’s love is not limited to them. God’s love overflows beyond the Hebrews, it is not restricted to just one nation, but is for all his children. The love poured out to the Jewish people, the children in this metaphor, overflows to all the other nations. And so Jesus responds with a display of his great power “For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.” The woman leaves to find her daughter well, free of the evil spirit that had possessed her.
- What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- Sometimes we can think we are special, that because we know God, that somehow we are better than other people, but really knowing Jesus means we have the responsibility to bless others. What are different ways that you could be a blessing to other people (even in social isolation). You might want to make a list as a family.
- How could you connect with someone (remembering social distancing) outside of your family to encourage or be a friend to this week?