Devotional #21 (2/18/13). God keeps His promises.
Intro: Last week Jesus taught us that what we put into our heart makes us “clean” or “unclean” not what food we put in our bodies. The Jewish leaders held traditions of how to wash hands and what food to eat but Jesus said those weren’t important when they hadn’t softened themselves to what God wanted from them.
This Week’s Reading: Mark 7:17-37.
vv. 17-19. Here the disciples wait until they’re in a house with Jesus before they admit they didn’t understand His lesson on what is “unclean.” Often we don’t want others to know that we don’t understand something so we ask in secret or worse, not at all. Jesus asks them why they don’t understand. They have been with Him as He’s been teaching but don’t seem to have learned anything.
vv. 20-23. Jesus explains that what comes out of a person makes them “unclean.” He goes on to list a bunch of sins but explains that the sin doesn’t start with the action but the premeditated thought of it. If a man lusts after women, then starts looking at pornography they may be more apt to objectify women and possible rape them. The point is that it doesn’t matter what ritual you keep if you welcome sin into your heart sin will pour out. I’m reminded of 1 Samuel 15:22 when God tells us that he would rather have us obey Him then to sacrifice to Him. In other words God would rather people read their Bible and accepted Christ’s removal of sin then to have religious rituals and sheep sacrificed on alters.
vv. 24-26. We can read this story in Matthew 15:22-28 for more details. So this Greek woman begs Jesus to heal her daughter because she is “cruelly demon-possessed” (Mt. 15:22).
vv. 27-30. At first it seems He calls her a dog and tells her to go away. But we have to understand what He means when He says, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Here the “children” are the Israelites (see Matthew 10:5-6) who God promised the Messiah (Jesus) to. The “bread” is God’s covenant blessings and the “little dogs” are the Gentiles (anyone not Israeli).
Jesus’ point was that the gospel was to be given first to God’s chosen people, the woman understood Jesus’ implication and was willing to settle for “crumbs” (Source 1). Jesus was pleased (even delighted!) with the woman’s understanding, faith and humility. So he rewards her by blessing her verbally “O woman, great is your faith!” (Mt. 15:28) and healing her daughter.
vv. 31-34. Jesus returns to the Decapolis from Mark 5:20, which was a group of 10 cities (that we talked about in Devotional # 14). Here we see Jesus pull aside a blind and mute man and heal him. John Darby explains this was a picture of how Jesus takes “set-aside Israel” and heals them *(see “Notes” below the “Conclusion” for more) [Source 2]. This fits perfectly with what we discussed in vv. 27-30.
Notice Jesus sighed. Why? There are several reasons** (see “Notes” below the “Conclusion” for more) but chiefly because He felt the man’s pain (Source 3).
vv. 35-37. The man is healed! Now He can both hear God’s Word and praise Him with his mouth. Mark’s purpose here is to show Jesus is the Messiah ***(see “Notes” below the “Conclusion” for more).
We covered a lot of important things. We must remember that Jesus came first to heal those who God had promised healing. Once that was happening (whether they accepted it or rejected it) Jesus showed His grace by giving healing to the Gentiles. The obvious are the physical healings but we must remember that Jesus is concerned with the heart.
Just as He talked about what comes out of the heart making us “clean” or “unclean”, nothing “clean” can come out of our heart without Jesus cleaning it up first. We must accept Him as Lord (master) over all, not just a portion but the whole thing.
*On Mk. 7: 32-35 John Darby’s says, “In the next miracle, we see the Lord, by the same grace, bestowing hearing and speech upon a man who was deaf and unable even to express his thoughts. He could have received no fruit from the word, from God, and could give no praise to Him. The Lord is returned into the place where He arose as light on Israel; and here He deals with the remnant alone. He takes the man apart from the multitude. It is the same grace that takes the place of all pretensions to righteousness in man, and that manifests itself to the destitute. Its form, though exercised now in favour of the remnant of Israel, is suited to the condition of Jew or Gentile-it is grace. But as to these too it is the same: He takes the man apart from the crowd, that the work of God may be wrought: the crowd of this world had no real part therein. We see Jesus here, His heart moved at the condition of man, and more especially at the state of His ever-loved Israel, of which this poor sufferer was a striking picture. He causes the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak. So was it individually, and so will it be with the whole remnant of Israel in the latter days. He acts Himself, and He does all things well. The power of the enemy is destroyed, the man’s deafness, his inability to use his tongue as God gave it him, are taken away by His love who acts with the power of God” (BibleStudyTools.com app).
**Mk. 7:34. He sighed. Let’s look at the original word for “sighed” here; it is stenazo (GK 4727) which means “to sigh, to groan”. According to Thayer’s it can be “inwardly” and can be translated “with grief” (Source 3). Guzik quotes Wiersbe who takes a queue from the Greek just mentioned. “The ‘sigh’ was an inward groan, our Lord’s compassionate response to the pain and sorrow sin has brought into the world. It was also a prayer to the Father on behalf of the handicapped man. (The same word is used in connection with prayer in Romans 8:23, and the noun in Romans 8:26)” (Source 3).
***Mk. 7:35. and the impediment of his tongue was loosed. Guzik says, “the ancient Greek word for impediment in his speech is mogilalon, and is only used here in the New Testament. It is a word that is also used once in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, in Isaiah 35:5-6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb [mogilalon] sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Mark wants us to know that the Messiah is here, bringing the glorious benefits of His rule” (http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_view.cfm?AuthorID=2&contentID=7900&commInfo=31&topic=Mark&ar=Mar_7_34).
Source 1: NIV Commentary, notes under Mt. 15:27.
Source 2: John Darby’s Commentary, BibleStudyTools.com app.