by Robert M. Solomon

Day 23

Read Mark 7:24-30

While Jesus ministered largely in Galilee and Judea, within the traditional borders of Israel, He also ministered in Gentile areas. This time He stepped across the border to the region of Tyre and Sidon, both Gentile cities. He entered a house secretly (v. 24). Why? Was it a Gentile home? As Gentiles were considered unclean, Jews were not to mix with them or enter their houses, lest they too become defiled. If Jesus visited a Gentile home covertly, it meant that He was now breaking down the walls that divided Jew from Gentile, without however creating an unnecessary stumbling block for pious Jews who might have objected to His actions. Later, after He had completed His mission at the cross and when the Spirit had been given to the church, He would guide Peter to do the same-to cross the boundary between Jews and Gentiles with God's inclusive grace (Acts 10:9-48).

The Lord's ministry was now touching the lives of Gentiles

A deeply troubled Gentile Syrophoenician woman came to Jesus and fell at His feet, begging Him to drive out a demon from her little daughter (vv. 25-26). In His answer (v. 27), Jesus appeared to be rather harsh. He differentiated the Jews (″children″) from the Gentiles (″dogs″). Matthew 15:24 elaborates further, stating that Jesus indicated that He was sent ″only to the lost sheep of Israel″. The Jews considered dogs to be unclean animals and habitually called Gentiles ″dogs″ in a derogatory sense. It is noteworthy that Jesus did not use the usual slur here, but instead a term meaning ″little dogs″ (or pet dogs)-William Barclay observes that ″Jesus took the sting out of the word″.6

This was a test for the woman, and she passed with flying colours. She agreed with Jesus, ″Yes, Lord″. She called Him Lord and included herself as one of His subjects. She added that ″even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs″ (v. 28). She humbly persisted in her supplication. Jesus was greatly impressed with her, and told her: ″For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter″ (v. 29). Matthew 15:28 further elaborates on Jesus' response: ″Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.″ He commended her for her ″great faith″ and granted her heart-felt and humble request. Here is an example of exorcism from a distance, underlining the Lord's amazing authority. The Lord's ministry was now touching the lives of Gentiles, something that would become clearer and more extensive in the days to come, after He had appointed Paul to be His missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).

6William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Mark, rev. ed. (Westminster: John Knox Press, 2001), 402-403.

Think through:

God called Abraham to bless him so that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2). Why did the Jews fail to realise that God intended to bless non-Jews too (Isaiah 19:25; 56:6-7)? How did Jesus correct this?

Why did Jesus say that the woman had ″great faith″? How does the Lord test us so that we may display such great faith? Can you remember a moment like this in your own experience?




About Author

Robert Solomon served as Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore from 2002-2012. He has an active itinerant preaching and teaching ministry in Singapore and abroad. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The Race, The Conscience, The Sermon of Jesus, and Faithful to the End.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

We exist to help make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all.

Rights and Permissions  |  Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy