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Mark 7:24-37: In Desperate Need
Tell us about a time when you were desperate for help. What did you do? Let's see how Jesus deals with two people in this passage who are in desperate need.
Let's read verses 24-30.
When Jesus enters a house in the vicinity of Tyre, why does He try to "keep His presence secret"? (Probably to get some needed rest, since his previous efforts to do so had been interrupted: 6:30-34, 53-56.)
What is odd and unconventional about the Syrophoenician woman's request? (It violates Jewish religious tradition for a woman, especially a Gentile woman, to approach a Jewish rabbi and make a request of him. So in terms of breaking tradition, it is linked with the scene of our previous study.)
Why does Jesus answer her with what seem to be harsh words? (This is possibly the most hard to understand saying of Jesus. It could be that He was merely testing her faith. Let's not let His reference to "dogs" blind us to the fact that He did show care to her by granting her request.)
What do His metaphors of "children" and "dogs" refer to? (Jews and Gentiles. It was common for Jews to refer to Gentiles as "dogs". Jesus "was not in any sense recognizing this description as accurate. He desired to see whether the woman was ready to take such a lowly position in order to receive a healing." [Cole 123])
What does Jesus reveal here about the strategy and scope of His ministry? (His primary focus was on Jews, but He later sent His disciples "into all the world". His word "first" extends hope to the Gentiles, and that's more than most first century Jews would do.)
Why was the woman undeterred by Christ's reply? (F.F. Bruce writes: "What if there was a twinkle in His eye as He spoke?….The written record can preserve the spoken words; it cannot convey the tone of voice in which they were said. Maybe the tone of voice encouraged the woman to persevere." [Bruce 111])
What does she add to Christ's mini-parable? (Sure the bread should go to the children, but what of the crumbs they drop as they eat? He need not "be deflected from his main mission to the Jews in order to do something for her daughter."
In what ways is the Syrophoenician woman a model for us? (She was humble, she was persistent in bringing her needs to Jesus, and she had faith that Jesus had ample power and good will to meet her needs.)
Let's read verses 31-37.
Who does Jesus meet in the Decapolis? (A group of people bringing a deaf man for healing.)
What is exemplary about these people? (They cared enough to bring a needy friend to Jesus, and had faith that Jesus could heal him, a good model for our prayer and witness. We saw a similar scene in 2:3-4 where a paralytic's friends brought him to Jesus.)
What is the first thing Jesus does with the deaf man? ("…He took him aside, away from the crowd…")
Why do you think Jesus did this? (Jesus didn't throw miracles into the crowds; He cared for individuals personally.)
How did Jesus heal this man who was handicapped with deafness and a speech impediment? ("Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then He spit and touched the man's tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, 'Ephphatha!'", meaning "Be opened".)
Why does Jesus use this seemingly odd technique instead of simply pronouncing him healed? (Jesus is communicating His intentions to the man and possibly looking for at least the smallest response of faith from him. "All the actions of verses 33 and 34 were miming his present need, the course of healing, and the manner in which such healing alone could come, in a way which even a deaf mute could understand, i.e. the blocked ears opened, spitting an impediment away from the tongue, the upward glance and sigh of prayer." [Cole 124-125])
How does the crowd respond to the healing? (They spread the word of it against Christ's command. They are "overwhelmed with amazement". William Lane writes that "Mark intends an allusion to Isaiah 35:5-6" [Lane 268] which reveals the messianic significance of this miracle: "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.")
Let's approach Jesus with faith that He can meet our needs, and praise Him who "has done everything well."