Mark 7:24-30: Dogs, Crumbs and Healing

Mark 7

Mark 7:24-30

24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

This story starts off with Jesus leaving a Jewish territory and entering into a Gentile territory. He must have been tired from all the ministry work he was doing and was trying to find some solace yet because of His fame, people heard that He was in Tyre and Sidon. A woman boldly approaches Jesus and tells her predicament.

It would be interesting to note that this woman was Greek and a Syrophoenician at birth which meant that there would be protocols in approaching a Jew and a rabbi in Jesus’ case yet she boldly approaches Jesus. She approaches Jesus and begs that Jesus do something about her demon-possessed daughter. This was a woman desperate for help asking Jesus to solve her problem and she did whatever it takes to make it happen. 

Jesus, instead of brushing her off, responded. Yet Jesus’ response was quite interesting.

27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

At first glance, the statement of Jesus seemed insulting. Yet this was a metaphor and not a way to insult the woman. In Tim Keller’s book Jesus the King, he commented on this text:

Jesus is saying to her, “You know how families eat; First the children eat at the table, and afterward their pets eat too. It is not right to violate that order. The puppies must not eat food from the table before the children do.” Jesus concentrated His ministry on Israel, for all sorts of reasons. He was sent to show Israel that he was the fulfillment of all Scripture’s promises, the fulfillment of all the prophets, priests, and kings, the fulfillment of the temple. But after he resurrected, he immediately said to the disciples, “Go to all the nations.” His words, then, are not the insult they appear to be. What he’s saying to the Syrophoenician woman is, “Please understand, there’s an order here. I’m going to Israel first, then the Gentiles (the other nations) later.”

Timothy Keller, Jesus the King: understanding the life and death of the Son of God: study guide (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015).p.85

But in verse 28, the woman gave this reply to Jesus;

28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

The woman told Jesus,  “Lord, I know there might be an order but the puppies eat from the table too, and I’m here to eat my share.” She was not insulted but she was desperate for a healing from Jesus. She did not take no for an answer but knew that Jesus can do a miracle on her behalf.  Jesus responded with her unusual request and healed her daughter. She was not insisting on a right she had on the basis of her goodness or faith. She was saying, “Give me what I don’t deserve on the basis of your goodness – and I need it now.” (Keller, p86)

Lord, I pray that I might have the same level of faith and desperation when I come to you in prayer. May I not see that my answered prayers are based on my goodness but rather see grace in every blessing that I receive. Thank you for being so good to me. 

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