Mark 7:24–30 NRSV
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go’the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus, still in search of respite for himself and his disciples, left Galilee and crossed over into Gentile territory. He tried desperately to keep his presence there quiet but to no avail. A Gentile woman apparently knew Jesus’ reputation. She was desperate to get help for her daughter who was possessed by a demon.
This interaction between Jesus and the woman sounds somewhat harsh to modern readers; however, there’s something of a cultural inside idiom at play here. The word that comes to mind to describe Jesus’ tone and demeanor is “cheeky.” When the woman responded as she did, Jesus responded back with a kind of “touché.”
The big deal in today’s text is the faith of the woman. First, she fell at his feet. Second, she pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter. Third, Jesus prayed no prayer, spoke no particular words of deliverance or exorcism. He didn’t ask to see the daughter. He merely told the woman the demon had left her daughter and to go. And she went. She simply believed Jesus and acted in response.
This is the kind of faith Jesus is looking for. We’ve seen it before in Mark. The interesting thing is where he is finding this faith. The religious leaders opposed him. His disciples weren’t grasping who he was. Bottom line: the ones we would expect to get it didn’t and the one’s we would least expect to get it did.
One final thought: the people who most get Jesus are the ones who find themselves most in touch with their need of him. Jesus’ Kingdom Manifesto comes to mind again, particularly the opening line, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).
Poverty of spirit comes from knowing one’s need of God. The most interesting thing to me is the thing I’ve never noticed before. Of all the people in Jesus’ orbit, it’s his own disciples who don’t seem to be that in need of him; to embody poverty of spirit. One can claim to be a disciple of Jesus without really knowing their need of him. It causes me to examine myself along these lines. And you?
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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