A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 7:24-37 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study

Introduction

Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 7:24-37

Jesus healing

So far in Mark we have seen how Jesus went about doing good. Everywhere He went there were people in need and He met the needs of many, many needy people. At the same time He taught, using His miracles to illustrate lessons. All the while, He has been criticised by the Pharisees in particular who were always finding fault. It is interesting to observe that the fault-finders were the ones in the wrong and the Lord Himself was perfect in every way. That is telling us something about human nature. In this passage we will see another two miracles at close range.

Verse 24 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.

Jesus held most of His ministry in the northern parts of Israel, but now He journeys further north to Tyre, a place on the coast of what we think of as Lebanon. Why He went we don’t know. Maybe respite from the crowds and maybe He anticipated the event we are about to see unfold. Keen observers must have noted His arrival.

Verses 25 & 26 In fact, as soon as she heard about Him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit, came and fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek, Born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

Apparently this lady had heard of Jesus’ reputation and was quick off the mark to obtain His help. It seems that demon possession was more common in the days when Jesus was on earth. This lady showed a good deal of boldness and faith in doing what she did.

Verse 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 their dogs.”

This is a harsh answer to her request. Being non-Jewish, she is being treated as an outsider with no claim on the Jewish Messiah. Gentiles were sometimes referred to as ‘dogs’. Making it sound even worse, we are told in Matthew 15:23,24 that the disciples urged Jesus to send her away. Jesus also said “I am sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

Verse 28 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

This woman was not about to take ‘no’ for an answer. She was desperate. Her argument was that even while the privileged children ate, there were pups under the table picking up the crumbs. Her reasoning was good and her attitude was humble.

Verses 29 & 30 Then He told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” She went home and found her child lying on the bed and the demon gone.

Miracles occurred where faith was present. In this case the woman’s faith was severely tried. No doubt, Jesus had this in mind when He put her off. He was not being racist or discriminatory as He knew the outcome of this conversation. When He gave this last word to her perhaps He had a smile on His face. We need to remember that trials of faith have a purpose. We need to hang in and persist at times, not easily giving up.

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. There some people brought a man to Him who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Him to place His hand on the man.

There were many pitiful cases brought to the Lord. People had pity for this individual and so they were anxious to get the Lord to touch him. As we think of these cases we should not forget that our spiritual condition can look just as pitiful to God. Thankfully, Jesus can make a difference to that also.

Verses 33-35 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. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha’ (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

It is impossible for us to understand just why this procedure was followed. Jesus healed by supernatural power which will not allow us any room to analyse what actually takes place. In the story of the woman we just looked at, the daughter was healed from a distance. Jesus was not even present. So method does not matter to us. The result does.

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

The reason why Jesus didn’t want them to broadcast what had happened is that the crowds would grow larger and become a great hindrance. Note the amazement of the crowd. It has often been suggested that people in Bible days were gullible and unscientific. But we can be absolutely sure that people didn’t believe that virgins have babies, that the dead rise again, that the blind receive sight and so on. A miracle was a miracle for them as much as it is for us. This assures us that the Gospel records are telling us about true events. The whole Gospel story would not hold together if the record of what Jesus said and did was not true.
Any fraud or fake would soon be forsaken and forgotten.

CONCLUSION

As we think about miracles we should recognise our own need for at least one. When a person comes to the point of trusting Christ for salvation a miracle occurs. They become new people. Then, miracles can occur in answer to our prayers. They are never common and never guaranteed, but they happen. As we walk by faith, let us look for God to work great things in us and around us.

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