Tuesday, July 4, 2023

A Syrian Phoenician Woman comes to Jesus for Help

How does the gospel of Mark all fit together? It’s all one cohesive message, to answer the question, who is Jesus really? It begins with John in the wilderness proclaiming the entry of the messiah into history.

We see God step into the picture at this point. Then, we see Jesus preaching a message of repentance and faith. He proclaims a new kingdom, the kingdom of God, a new way of living, a new system of society. We see numerous events where Jesus heals someone miraculously, or drives out a demon from someone.

Jesus also begins to teach in parables to the crowds, and confront of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders.

We see him doing things no mere human could do, he feed thousands of people by an act of will, he walks on water, he calms a storm by simply speaking to it. We see also that the response to Jesus is very mixed. He is being rejected by some, embraced by others, and it’s clear Jesus is not necessarily the messiah Israel was expecting.

Every event in the book of mark here is written to help us understand as non-jews, around the world, who Jesus is, and what his purpose was in coming. So again today, we’re going to get more answers about who Jesus is.

Last week we talked about Jesus discussion with the pharisees about hypocrisy and the heart. Today we see Jesus traveling north from where he was to Tyre. There he encounters a woman from Syria, a gentile.

In verses 24-26 it says, “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.”

Jesus ministry was centered for most of his ministry, in a small area called galilee in ancient Israel. He crossed into Samaria at points as well, and would eventually move his ministry to Jerusalem the capital city itself.

But Jesus ministry was to the Jewish people two thousand years ago. That was his target audience. Later, he would command his disciples to take the message to all the nations across the face of the earth. And so it came to be.

So it’s an interesting incident for this Phoenician woman to come and ask Jesus for help. She is a Greek, not a jew.

Jesus spoke to her, and then she replied. It went like this:

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.”

Jesus gives what seems like a harsh response. But, Jesus was often blunt and clear about his purposes. He was sent during his life to the people of Israel. But she gives a clever response, in hopes that Jesus will help her.

Jesus is impressed with her response. In verses 29-30 it says:

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.”

Jesus doesn’t even have to be in physical proximity to the child of the woman to remove the demon and set the child free.

Time, distance, space, matter, energy, these things are under the control of Jesus, through God the Father, as he sees fit to use it. He is able to, by acts of choice, to manipulate, time, space matter, and energy as he desires.

Can you do that? Can anyone do that? No. Only Jesus.

What does this incident tell us about Jesus? Well, his earthly ministry was originally to the nation of Israel, but, we get a sense here in this event, that Jesus ministry would extend to all the nations, Greeks, Romans, and even Americans today.

But in this passage, we see Jesus in another country, he’s in Phoenicia, he’s probably hiding out for a while in this house to try to let things cool off in Galilee, because word is spreading much too quickly.

God came first to Israel, more so, he founded Israel, through Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Joshua. But eventually, the message of salvation would go out to the entire world.

Next, we see our second incident today, Jesus heads back down to the Decapolis, where he met the man who wandered in the tombs a few chapters back.

It says in verses 31-32: Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

So, we have a deaf and mute man, brought by some caring people to the feet of Jesus to seek help.

We should do the same. We should be people who bring our friends to the feet of Jesus. Who have you invited to church recently? Who have you invited to bible study recently? Or women’s group? Everyone needs Jesus. Every single person you know needs Jesus to wash away their sins, or they are going to spend eternity in hell. Never forget that. We should have an urgency to get them to Jesus, just like this man had friends who brought him to Jesus.

Do all you can to help people to know Christ. But do it by the Spirit’s leading. The Spirit will help you to share the message with others. Who can you invite to church? Who can you pray with? Who can you share scripture with? Who can you begin to mentor, meet with for coffee, and talk with about faith in Christ? That is our challenge.

Let’s see what happens next… verses 33-35, “33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”

So just a few verses earlier, we saw Jesus healing the little girl without even going to the little girl in person, now we see very physical contact with this man, touching the man’s tongue, putting his fingers in his ears. Spitting.

He looks up to heaven, then said to the man, “be opened!” and the man’s ears were opened and he was suddenly able to speak normally.

You know, there was another incident where Jesus met a roman guard, and the man said that Jesus didn’t even need to come in person, he could simply give the command and his son would be healed. And then it happened. It seems like gentiles have a faith that allows for distance to not be a factor. Or maybe it’s an indication that after Jesus is crucified, rises again, and then goes to heaven, afterward, Jesus will do much distance healing and salvation for people like you and me throughout our lives.

But while he was with the jews, he would lay hands on them, and heal them that way.

Have you asked for healing in your life? Ask for healing. Many of you have and God has said no, or not yet, so be it. But always pray for healing, for yourself, for others, because, the worst God can say is no. And he’s healed me in many ways. But the key is you have to ask. You have to come to him. If you don’t take that opportunity to bring it to Jesus, it’s a missed opportunity.

And yes, often Jesus doesn’t heal us in the moment. It’s something we’re meant to be dealing with in the moment. But always ask. Worst he can say is no!

Lastly, we see the chapter conclude in verses 36-37:

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Jesus again tries to mitigate the spread of the message, so it doesn’t blow up too fast. But people can’t help but talk about what’s happening. It’s very exciting. The people are amazed.

As I was amazed when I got salvation. As we were all amazed when we began our journey as Christians. We were amazed.

As the crowds said, Jesus has done everything well. It’s hard to argue with what Jesus teaches and what he does. It’s all good and it’s all right and holy and pure and true. It’s perfect. It’s of God.

And again we find ourselves increasingly answering the question who is Jesus? He is God, perfect, true, full of love, strong in truth, righteous, full of justice, merciful, challenging the religious leaders, healing the sick, casting out demons, walking on water, opening the ears of the deaf, and it’s all right, and true, and good, and wonderful, and beyond this world.

It’s beyond us. And that’s how we know that it’s something special. It’s beyond us. It’s glorious and true and good. And we should all want to be part of what Jesus is doing, what he did, and what he is doing today in the world. God isn’t done yet. He’s at work in this world, leading people to salvation, through his hands and feet, the church.

1. In your mind, begin to see who Jesus Christ is to you the book of Mark (piece it together)

2. Jesus can do miracles, he can do anything in His will, believe anything is possible

3. Invite people to church, pray with the lost, share the gospel, spread the gospel

4. Believe and pray for God to heal you and others

5. Understand that Christ is perfect, he makes no mistakes

6. Get excited about faith in Christ, explore your faith outside of church on your own time

7. Believe that Jesus Christ is still at work in the world (through you)