Mark 7 Continued

24. From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.

The Lord leaves His current location and goes into the region near these important Gentile cities. He apparently tried to enter surreptitiously into this house in that region, but this did not work, as the word of His presence got out anyway. This might seem strange to us, as this seems to be saying that the Lord Jesus failed in something He meant to do. How could God fail in His purpose? The answer, I believe, is the only one we can give: He failed because of the free will of those around Him. One of those who knew He was there was probably not secret enough with this information, and so the word got out. The only time the Lord is stymied in His purpose is when it involves the free will that He has given His creatures.

25. For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.

This woman heard about Him, no doubt from whomever it was who “blew His cover.” We can understand why she would immediately want to come to Him, for her young daughter was in a sad condition indeed. She had an unclean spirit, and so needed the help that only the One with the power of the Holy Spirit could provide. Thus, this Syro-Phoenician woman found Jesus in the house where He was hiding, and came to Him to beg healing for her daughter.

26. The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

There was an obstacle to this woman receiving help from the Lord, however. That is that she was a Greek, and so was not a member of the house of Israel. Because of this, she had no claim on the blessings brought by the Messiah to them at this time. Notice that she is called a Syro-Phoenician Greek, not a Canaanite, as the woman was in Matthew 15:21-28. Yet it can be little doubted that these two events are the same, and that this is the same woman. Remember, Israel itself used to be called “Canaan,” and this woman, although not a Jew, was descended from some of the remaining Gentiles of that region. There is no mention of her calling after the disciples, or of her receiving the sort of praise from the Lord that we saw she received in Matthew, yet this just means that this record of the event is more condensed. Moreover, what happened before and after in Matthew and in Mark are the same, which places this as taking place at the same time. This was most likely the same woman and the same situation.

27. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”

The Lord Jesus does not grant her request, and instead tells her that the children (Israel) should be fed before the puppies (herself and the other Greeks.) Dogs were not considered “man’s best friend,” as they are today, but rather were considered the mangy, scavenging pack animals of the streets. Yet sometimes people would take puppies into their homes and keep them for their children for a time as pets. They would always be evicted upon reaching adulthood, however. The word Christ uses here indicates that He was calling this woman a puppy, one of these dogs taken into the house, not one of the despised street dogs.

28. And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.”

This woman’s faith was indeed great, for having been called a dog, she takes the dog’s place and points out that even puppies eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. This was the response of faith, for she heard the word of Christ that she was a dog, she believed it, and she acted accordingly by taking the dog’s place. Might we too respond so thoroughly in faith when we are tested, even if it is such a severe test as this!

29. Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

This faith was sufficient for Jesus Christ to grant her request, and her daughter was healed.

30. And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.

The woman returns home and finds the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed where the demon had thrown her in leaving her.

This passage contains truth we should remember. Most significantly, we see plainly here that Christ’s ministry was to the Jews only, and never to those who were not Israelites, even if they were Greeks living in the area. Those who assume that Israel comes to an end and the Gentiles begin as soon as we enter the New Testament will have extreme difficulty with this passage. We who recognize dispensational truth, however, see in this the confirmation that the Jew was still preeminent at the time of Christ and the Gentile was still an outsider. This woman had no claims on the blessings of God as a Greek, whereas the lowliest commoner in Israel did. The change from the Israelite to the Gentile dispensation had most certainly not happened yet at this time.

31. Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee.

The Lord leaves the region of Tyre and Sidon and goes through the midst of the region of Decapolis, which means “ten cities.” Then He comes to the Sea of Galilee.

32. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him.

Here at the sea of Galilee they bring to the Lord Jesus a man who was deaf and dumb. He was this way, not from birth, but through becoming deaf and dumb during his lifetime. They brought Him to the Lord so that He might put His hand on him and work another healing miracle upon him.

33. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.

The delay of putting His fingers in his ears, spitting, and touching his tongue, is confusing to say the least. Why the Lord should have done these things in this case whereas He didn’t in most is a question to which we can give no clear answer. It may be, however, that the Lord Jesus was emphasizing the fact that not only did the physical body have to be healed, but knowledge of how to hear and speak had to be imparted to the mind as well. Other than this, we can see no reason for Him to do these actions. They are most certainly symbolical of something, but what this author is not prepared to say at this time.

34. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

He looks up to heaven and, as God’s servant and subject to all the emotions of a servant, sighs. Then He speaks to him this Aramaic word Ephphatha, which means, “be opened.” Why God wanted us to know the exact word is hard to say. It certainly is not because there is some power in the word, like a magic spell. Perhaps He just wished to emphasize that it was this one, single, simple Aramaic word that the Lord used to work such a glorious miracle.

35. Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

The words here seem to indicate that his was not a normal illness, but that his tongue was actually bound, probably by demonic influence. Yet at the Lord’s one word his ears were opened, what bound him was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

36. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it.

This man and those who brought him to the Lord, instead of showing faith, showed a singular lack of it, refusing to hear the words of Christ and proclaiming Him more and more the more He told them not to do so. They must have thought they knew better than the Lord, or perhaps they were of the sort who simply cannot keep a secret. At any rate, they disobeyed the Lord’s command. This is never good, even if our motives seem commendable. When the Lord commands, it is ours to obey, not to opt to do what we think is best.

37. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Those who hear this forbidden testimony are astonished beyond measure, and proclaim that the Lord has done all things well. Indeed, as we look at the cross and all the great work the Lord accomplished there, we can agree with these men in saying that our Savior has indeed done all things well!