May the LORD continue to grant us this glorious sunshine! I hope this finds you all well and in high spirits.
We are getting ready for the family series so be praying for the teaching to be clear, our ears and hearts to be open and God’s mercy to pour out on us as we take stock of our marriages and families in the coming weeks.
Sabrina (the young lady in outpatient rehab who you all so generously supported with sheets and gift cards) is still doing well. She has been sober for 70+ days and continues to experience God’s victory over addiction. Her update is this, “I really appreciate the prayers because I definitely believe God’s hand has been on every situation I’ve been through thus far!”
If you are still interested in helping her out, we are accepting gift cards for her from Safeway or Albertson’s. Or you can make a donation to the church marked “redemption road – Sabrina,” and we will get that to her. Thank you!
I met with the folks at Next Step, a pregnancy resource center in Lynnwood. This is going to be another fertile field for us. The elders will be discussing this and some of us will be touring their facilities, considering various service options. Please be praying for us as a church as we consider this and pray for Next Step – they are in search of a full time RN.
Filling up the edges
Mark 7:25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the womanwas a Gentile, a Syrophoenicianby birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
In the course of events Jesus was approached by a woman whose non-Jewish character is stressed. She was a member of the Hellenized citizen class in the Phoenician republic of Tyre, a Gentile by birth and culture.
The mother’s anguish over her daughter’s condition is thoroughly understandable and does much to explain her bold persistence in begging Jesus to expel the demon from her child. Her prostration at Jesus’ feet was a mark of deep respect as well as of profound grief.
It was fitting that widows should receive help from a God who cares specially for widows and orphans Psalm 146:9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Mark 7:27-28And 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.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Now, the readers of the Gospel know that Jesus fed His own people, with twelve baskets of left overs. They know that there are indeed crumbs. But this woman, only just hearing accounts of Jesus determines what kind of man He is, what kind of character He has. She is appealing to His abundant grace and power. His compassion and generosity.
She is the only person in the whole Gospel account of Mark to call Jesus “Lord.” The Jewish leaders question Jesus’ presumption at the head of the Table. The Disciples refuse to accept the import of what Jesus has been doing.
This gentile woman get who and what Jesus is. She, in her grief, turns to Him and appeals to His character.
There is more than enough of the Lord’s Manna to go around.
Jesus heeds the priority of God’s ancient House. He dismisses the woman by comparing her interruption to that of a household pet interrupting a family dinner.
It is inappropriate the meal and allow the household dogs to interrupt and carry off the children’s bread.
The comparison can be understood on two quite distinct levels.
The background provided by the OT and later Judaism is that the people of Israel are designated as the children of God.
Understood in this light, Jesus acknowledges the privileges of Israel and affirms that the time has not yet come for blessing to be extended to the Gentiles.
“Let the children first be fed” has reference to God’s election of Israel and his Gospel priority.
Romans 1:16… the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Jesus is prioritizing His ministry.
This is certainly the deeper meaning behind Jesus’ words, but it may legitimately be asked if the woman possessed the background necessary to appreciate the distinction drawn between Jews and Gentiles and the prerogative of Israel in the divine intention.
The text stresses her Hellenistic background, whereas this common interpretation of the comparison presumes a high degree of theological sophistication.
Moreover, while Gentiles are sometimes described as dogs by the Jewish tradition, particularly with reference to their vices, there is no parallel to the use of the pet dogs of the household in this derogatory sense.
For the word Jesus uses is of a small beloved household pet. More like Puppy, not street dogs; the common neighborhood scavengers as the gentiles are usually refereed as.
Household pets are admitted to the house and can be found under the table at meal time in contrast to the yard dogs or the stray scavengers of the street.
The metaphor is understandable given the statement in V. 24; Jesus seeks rest and the woman is intruding on that rest.
It seems probable that the woman, at least, understood Jesus’ statement on this practical and non-theological level.
Jesus’ apparent refusal to help in a situation of clear need conveys an impression of harshness and insensitivity.
His reluctance to act may be due to the fact that in the Hellenistic world in the first century there were many “miracle-workers” who attracted popular followings.
In Galilee Jesus had been regarded as one of these “divine men” and the crowds had nearly trampled Him while seeking His aid in 3:7–10; 6:53–56.
The power of God, however, is properly released not in a context of superstition and magic, but in response to faith.
Jesus therefore put before the woman a parabolic statement to test her faith. Such a comparison – herself and a dog – would reveal her heart. It would show how soft it is. Would it receive Jesus’ word, even if it isn’t what she wants to hear?
The woman clearly understood this and did not hesitate.
She felt no insult in the comparison between children of the household and the pet dogs.
Instead she neatly turned it to her advantage: the crumbs dropped by the children, after all, are intended for the dogs!
Jesus’ comparison is not rejected but carried one step further, which modifies the entire scene: if the dogs eat the crumbs under the table, they are fed at the same timeas the children (and do not have to wait, as implied by the affirmation in verse 27a).
Indeed, let the children be fed, but allow the dogs to enjoy the crumbs. There does not have to be an interruption of the meal, for what she requests is not the whole loaf but a single crumb.
She is assuming that Jesus is powerful enough that He can grant her small wish and not even put His fork down. She is using God’s words to appeals to God’s grace.
Let this be a lesson to us all.
Unlike the Pharisees who argue with Jesus in arrogant self-righteousness based on man-made traditions. This bold woman comes right back at Jesus, make a logical argument from His word with reverence and humility.
Jesus’ words are not insulting to her. She is not triggered. She is humble.
She may not know the promises that God made to Abraham. But she is confident that Jesus is the good man that she has heard He is.
She is appealing to Him, not on her own wisdom and reasoning, but based on the wisdom and reasoning in Jesus’ Words.
She kneels before Him. She calls Him Lord. This is a far different argument than the one Jesus had with the crowds, His disciples and the Pharisees in the last 23 verses.
The surprise twist in the structure points to both the redemptive-historical and the personal application of the story.
In terms of redemptive history, the Canaanite woman is a Gentile bride seeking help from the Jewish “Son of David,” from the “Lord” Jesus.
Though she is a Canaanite, she knows how to give good gifts to her daughter.
If the Gentiles have the persistent faith of the Canaanite woman, they will gain a share of the children’s bread.
The personal application has to do with the nature of faith, and the woman’s faith is “great” in several respects. It is great because it is focused on Jesus, the Son of David.
She knows that she has no other hope for her daughter. True faith is trust in the Lord Jesus, the one who rules, the King. Her faith is also humble.
She prostrates herself before Jesus, pleading with Him. When Jesus describes her as a dog, she immediately accepts the designation, and yet she persists in asking for help from Jesus.
Her faith is great, above all, in its persistence. She bows to Him in honor, calls Him Lord, and cries out in desperation for help. He calls her a dog. Still, she does not quit. She turns Jesus’ insult back in her favor, “catching” Jesus, as it were, in His own words.
And what happens?
Mark 7:29-30And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.
Those who call Him Lord, not as mere lip service, but truly prostrate themselves before Him will receive His goodness and power.
For her statement, her request is granted.
Now, is this work righteousness? Say the right thing and Jesus saves your daughter?
What had Jesus just said in the previous portion? It’s not what goes inside that makes a person clean or unclean. Elsewhere Jesus says, in Luke 6:45The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
The Gentile woman speaks boldly, humbly and in faith. She appeals to God’s words, knows that He is compassionate and merciful.
Inside she is humble, has faith, knows God. And so, her words reflect what is inside of her.
The irresistible confidence of the woman in Jesus delighted him. Her interpretation of his statement bore eloquent witness both to her humility and her simple trust in Him.
This is the faith which is alone capable of receiving miracle.
Around the web
Summer Bible Reading Challenge: https://www.christkirk.com/biblechallenge/
The men’s facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/kirkersread/
The lady’s facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ccLadiesFellowship/?source_id=193451174031504
One of the reading challenge leaders, Rachel Jankovic, recently wrote a piece on revival through daily bible reading here; https://dougwils.com/the-church/practical-christianity/samepagesummer.html
He is the Light; therefore he is the Sun of our souls.
He is the Life; therefore we live in him.
He is Holiness; therefore is he the slayer of sin.
He is Salvation ; therefore it is he who has purchased
the whole world with his blood.
He is the Resurrection; therefore it is he who has set free
those who are in the tomb,
and has made them new a second time by his blood.
He is the Way; therefore he is the guide to his Father.
He is the Door; therefore he is the guide into paradise.
He is the Shepherd; therefore he is the seeker after the sheep which is lost.
He is the Lamb; therefore he is the cleanser of the world from its impurity.
This is my God; I will ascribe glory to him,
for to him belong glory and power for all ages and ages.
Source: Sermon on a papyrus, possibly fourth century
THE CHURCH AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD
Worship service (not a protest); Wednesday, May 29 from 5:30-6:15pm, at the Planned Parenthood in Everett. 509 – 32nd St., Everett 98201
FREE BOOKS IN THE MONTH OF JUNE
Free books available, coinciding with a new sermon series in June: The
Meaning of Marriage, Decluttering Your Marriage, Father Hunger, Militant Motherhood, and Raising Little Ones.
June 2, 9:30-9:50 in the church office. Men and women welcome.
June 9, 5:30-8:30PM at the Northshore Senior Center in Bothell. Please sign up to bring an international dish to share.
June 17-21, sponsored by Trinity. More details to come.