Chapter 27

Dealing with outsiders
Mark 7:24-37 (NASB)

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24 And from there He arose and went away to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having departed.

31 And again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 And they brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they entreated Him to lay His hand upon him. 33 And He took him aside from the multitude by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 And they were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.”

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Mark 7:24-30
Testing a gentile woman’s faith

Jesus now goes into non-Jewish territory. He ministers to Jews first, but He comes to save Gentiles also. Here, He first addresses a Syrophoenician woman whose little daughter is possessed by an unclean spirit. The woman keeps asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. Jesus’ seemingly hard and insensitive reply is to test the reality of her faith in Him. Referring to Jews as children and Gentiles as dogs, He says the children must be fed first. Their food is not for dogs. He thereby demonstrates that His priority is sharing His message with Jews before approaching Gentiles. Her reply shows real faith in Him: Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs. Although Jesus must reach Jews first with His teaching and miraculous works, why cannot some Gentiles trust in Him too? Jesus says her answer, demonstrating her faith, causes her daughter’s deliverance from her possessing demon. She goes home and finds this is true. Jesus’ words always are true!

If Jesus does not save Gentiles, I could not tell you about Him now! With all non-Jews I would be eternally lost. But Jesus cares for all sorts of social ‘outsiders’—including destitute, immoral or imprisoned people. He died on the cross for the ‘world’[1]—for sinners of all types. He saves all who come to Him—whoever they are![2]

Mark 7:31-37
This deaf man who can hardly speak hears and speaks!

Decapolis is a stronghold of Gentile life, east of Jordan River. Its ten cities deeply reflect Greek culture. Jesus now visits Decapolis. A deaf man, able to speak only with difficulty is brought to Jesus, who is asked to lay hands on him. Jesus takes him aside, puts His fingers in his ears, and places His saliva on the mute man’s tongue. The Son of God looks to Heaven, sighs deeply, and commands, ‘Ephphatha!’ that is, ‘Be opened!’ The man hears and speaks plainly. Although Jesus tells people to say nothing, they publicise what Christ has done for him. (The reverse is, sadly, often true today. The Bible says Christians should tell people about the Saviour. Sadly, we often fail to do so!) The astonished people remark, that Jesus ‘has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’

Conversion to Christ is like this man’s coming to hear and speak. Before becoming born again[3], non-Christians rarely sense God’s speaking to them. The Bible’s message is sealed until God’s Holy Spirit opens spiritually deaf ears. Naturally we cannot understand God’s word without the Holy Spirit.[4] With His help a new Christians starts understanding the Bible: there are no ‘quick fixes’. His mouth is opened too! He begins to praise His Saviour God and share God’s good news with others. His words will now comfort others, including new Christian brothers and sisters.

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[1]   .  John 3:16.
[2]   .  Hebrews 7:25.
[3]   .  See John 3:3-7.
[4]   .  1 Corinthians 2:14.

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Questions on Chapter 27
Mark 7:24-37 Dealing with outsiders.

A. Why does Jesus seem to speak negatively to the Syrophoenician woman? How does she respond? Do you think that Jesus is taken by surprise?   Mark 7:26    Mark7:24-30    Luke 18:1-7   John 2:25

B. How does the miracle of healing on the deaf and partially mute man illustrate how God works in spiritually deaf and mute people?   Mark 7:32-37    Mark 8:18    Isaiah 29:18-19    Luke 7:22   Revelation 3:20   Hebrews 5:11   Hebrews 4:7

C. Do you agree that Jesus has done all things well? What things do you think that Jesus has done especially well in history and for you?   Mark 7:37   Genesis 1:31   John 3:17   Romans 5:9   Romans 8:37   Ephesians 2:18   1 John 4:9