THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Mark: Jesus The Perfect Servant Of God
Part II: The Perfect Service Of Jesus, The Perfect Servant Of God, Mark 1:1-10:52
Y. Christ's Work To Make Exceptions To God's Calling To Respond To Faith
A. We learned in our first lesson in this series that Mark's Gospel presents the perfect service of God's Perfect Servant, Jesus, with Mark's focus of having rebounded unto upright service from personal failure.
B. In Mark's case, he had abandoned Paul and Barnabas at Pamphylia possibly due to extra hardship, not considering the desperate spiritual needs of people in the territory (Acts 13:13). Mark's problem may have been his objection to Paul's new emphasis on reaching Gentiles over Jews, Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 388.
C. However, Jesus exemplified just the opposite tendency in Mark 7:24-30, making a gracious exception to God's initial calling in response to faith from a needy Gentile, and we view that passage for our instruction:
II. Christ's Work To Make Exceptions To God's Calling To Respond To Faith, Mark 7:24-30.
A. Mark 7:24a in the context tells how Jesus left the area of Capernaum (cf. Mark 6:53; Ibid., Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 135) for an area well-removed from heavy Jewish populations for the sake of long overdue, much-needed privacy: He had tried to get the disciples apart for rest from their outreach to Israel back in Mark 6:31-32 only to be interrupted with the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:33-44), and in Mark 6:45 when He had sent the disciples across the sea to escape the five thousand crowds, crowds there had met Him, Mark 6:53-54.
B. Jesus thus had gone far north away from heavy Jewish populations in Galilee up to the region around Tyre and Sidon and had entered a house with His disciples, wanting His presence there to be kept secret, Mark 7:24b. One of the reasons He wanted this privacy was to instruct His disciples in secret for their growth, Ibid.
C. However, His presence could not be hid, and a woman whose young daughter was demon possessed heard Jesus was there, so she came and entered the house and fell at His feet to beg for His help, Mark 7:24c-25.
D. Mark's Gospel "stressed the woman's non-Jewish identity: she was a Greek, not from Greece, but a Gentile by culture and religion. She was a Syrophoenician born in Phoenicia, part of the province of Syria. Matthew called her a 'Canaanite woman' (Matt. 15:22)," Ibid.; Mark 7:26a.
E. This Gentile by culture and birth thus begged Jesus to exorcise the demon from her daughter, Mark 7:26b.
F. However, the plan of the Father then was for Jesus to minister to His Hebrew disciples in private, even to the point of their leaving needy Hebrew crowds, cf. Mark 7:24a. Accordingly, Jesus figuratively told her that His first priority in being there was to minister to His disciples, the "children" in the saying. Thus, it was not appropriate for Him to interrupt His ministry to them to give his services to her, a Gentile, termed literally "little dogs" to represent Gentiles, puppies that ate at the feet of children in a home, Mark 7:27; Ibid. The term "little dogs" was not a derogatory term for Gentiles, but was meant to show how inappropriate it would be for Jesus to minister to this Gentile woman at the cost of teaching His Hebrew disciples at that time, Ibid.
G. Recognizing her place, the woman humbly replied that though it was inappropriate to feed little puppies ahead of children at a dining table, little puppies nevertheless ate of the crumbs the children dropped, Mark 7:28. In faith in Jesus, this woman was not trying to interrupt the Father's plan for His ministry to His Hebrew disciples, but merely trying to fit within it as a lowly Gentile to meet her daughter's desperate need.
H. Her exhibition of such a sterling faith in Him led Jesus to make a gracious exception to God's calling that He minister to the disciples then above even other needy Jewish people: because of her saying, He told her to go her way as the demon had left her daughter, Mark 7:29.
I. When the woman arrived at her house, she found the demon had indeed gone out of her daughter, and that her daughter was laid upon the bed in peace, Mark 7:30.
Lesson: Though God's calling for Jesus at the time directed that He withdraw from even needy people in Israel, those to whom Jesus had been sent, that He minister in private to His Hebrew disciples, when a Gentile woman in great need and faith approached Him for His help, He made a gracious exception and ministered to her.
Application: (1) In ministering for our Lord, may we realize that though God's assignment for us may be to perform a specific ministry to a specific party at a specific time in a specific way, if we face intense human need coupled with expressed faith in God that calls for us to step beyond or outside of that plan, God Himself expects us to go outside of His initial assignment for us to minister to that needy, believing party.