Mark 7:24-30 Jesus Heals in a Foreigner
Jesus enters into a Gentile region north of Galilee in Phoenicia: Tyre and Sidon. Could it be just coincidence that after teaching that defilement comes from within the heart, not externally, that in the next pericope we find Jesus in land inhabited with ‘those unclean heathens’ – I doubt it! His reputation (i.e. popularity) precedes Him, even in this Gentile land (v. 24). A Gentile woman (a Syrophonecian) finds Him and falls at His feet. She is desperate: “And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter” (v. 26). And here we encounter another seemingly off-putting remark from Jesus. But His apparent harshness and insensitivity may in fact serve as an invitation to renew her appeal of faith (William Lane, NICNT, on v. 27). The woman is not deterred, and her clever reply shows her confidence in Jesus’ power (v. 28). Jesus affirms the woman’s faith and sends her home with the assurance that “the demon has left your daughter” (v. 29) [As with the Centurion’s servant in Matthew and Luke (Matt. 8:13) we have here an account of healing at a distance]. John Mark concludes the narrative with the report that when the woman returned home, the demon was gone.
So what’s a disciple to do? Here we have a woman outside the covenant community of Israel and yet she exhibits great faith in the person of Jesus, their Messiah. In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees remain dull and hard-hearted toward their own savior and King (7:1-23) as illustrated in the previous narrative.
Once again, as followers of Jesus, we must constantly be asking ourselves ‘have I become one of those religious hypocrites?’ There’s no denying this recurring theme throughout the gospel narratives: the bad guys of the story are the Pharisees and the religious establishment! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jesus’ most dreaded enemies while He was here on earth were well-respected religious leaders! Dear disciple – ask yourself this question regularly: Have I become part of the problem? Have I become so churchy, so religious, that I am more of a barrier to people encountering Jesus than an enabling bridge?
Until next time my friends, follow the Master (His burden is easy and His yoke is light), and don’t let the religious distracters get you off track (their burdens are hard to bear)!