God's Power to Restore Marriages
People want to justify their actions. They wouldn't have to if they felt inside it is alright, so they try to convince themselves and others that it is okay. That is what we see here in Mark 10:1-12. As Jesus was teaching the Pharisees showed up to try to discredit Him in front of the crowds.
They asked about divorce, and they had heard that Jesus said it was wrong but they knew Moses said it was okay, so they questioned Him. Will Jesus like usual when confronted, matched a question with a question. "What did Moses say in the law"? So now they felt they caught Jesus in contradiction with the law.
Jesus now explains; God permits divorce out of the hardness of man's heart, but He still hates it. He then reveals the beauty of holy Union where male and female become one when they marry. He later tells just the disciples that those who divorce and marry another commit adultery.
So what do we learn? If we love God, we are going to do what pleases Him. If God hates divorce, it should be our last option, used only if our marriage is causing destructive harm. Meaning one partner is being physically or sexually abusive or has joined themselves with another by committing adultery.
Since we walk in the power of God, we should believe that God can turn our marriage around for He has given us the ministry of reconciliation and restoration. This ministry begins and is established first in our walk with God, second in our homes and third to others.
Children in adult settings can be thought of as nothing but a bother, even in church services, if it is not VBS or children's church they are expected just to sit and be quiet. We may even shut them up by giving them a device to play video games.
Here in Mark 10:13-16, Parents bring children to Jesus to be blessed. The disciples scolded the parents for bothering him, which got Jesus angry with the disciples.
Jesus says "Let the children come to me. For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
We need to let our children be involved in our church services, worshipping God with energy and excitement. We need to welcome them and help them feel included allowing them to participate as long as it is unto God.
Faith like a child is what it takes to walk in Kingdom power. They are not to be shunned but celebrated. They are examples to us, so we never lose our child like faith and innocence.
Money & Power
The rich young ruler turned away from following Jesus because of his priority being money. Jesus in Mark 10:23-30 discusses with his disciples the problem of money. He says, "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Why is this? Well, the more money one has, the more they can do what they want. People submit to others only out of necessity. When one has the power to be in control, they don't want to relinquish it.
Following God is about surrender; giving all one has, and all one is to do, in submission to Jesus as Lord. Not easy for someone who has wealth and power. Many people come to Jesus with nothing, they've hit bottom, and have nowhere else to turn.
The disciples knowing how obsessed people are with money asking Jesus, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus says "with men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
God has a way to humble the proudest and to bring to not the most greedy. Our job is to pray for those God lays on our heart no matter how open they seem to God.
Jesus now promises that those who give away what they own for God's purposes will receive 100 fold return, in this life. God rewards the sacrifices of His people.
Money & Power
Jesus walking with His disciples begins telling them again of His coming suffering. Last time Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him and then got even more scolded in return. This time James and John, "the sons of thunder," say something to Jesus just as absurd. They either don't get or don't believe what Jesus said about suffering and ask Jesus if they can stand on his right or left in Glory.
Now they were not heavenly minded they wanted power on Earth for they believed Jesus had come to establish His earthly Kingdom. Jesus tells them are you able to experience the suffering I'm about to experience? He then says there heavenly position is not His to decide. The other disciples became indignant that these guys would ask such a power hungry question.
These followers lived under the oppression of the Romans they were following Jesus mainly with the hope He would free them from Roman rule. Not understanding it was inward oppression that they needed to get free from if they were to find real peace.
Jesus now teaches them that those in the Kingdom of God exercise authority not like the world to dominate others but rather to be great is to serve. To be first is to be the slave of all, to give one's life as a ransom for many. Let us not think we can use God to gain power over others. For He will humble those, who misrepresent who He is. Let us rather ask Him to humble us and remove all greed from our hearts.
Jesus has been speaking to His disciples about suffering, but their response shows how they are still spiritually blind. They just can't get it. That's why the indwelling of the Holy Spirit our inner teacher is so necessary.
Jesus travels to Jericho where a physically blind beggar cries out to Him for mercy. He was told to be quiet by the crowd. Those who want something will do whatever it takes to get what they want. We cannot allow the crowd to get in the way of receiving what we need from Jesus.
Jesus asks the blind man, "what do you want from me?" That is His question today to you? He knows what you need, but He desires relationship which comes communication. If you believe that God is who He says He is you will ask what you need, and like this blind beggar it will be given to you. Jesus is the one who can open both spiritual and physical blind eyes, receive your sight today in Jesus Name.
Sunday August 27th
Revised Hymns for Older People
Precious Lord, Take My Hand, And Help Me Get Up
Just a Slower Walk with Thee
Blessed Insurance, Blue Cross is Mine
It Is Well With My Soul, But My Knees Hurt
Go Tell It on the Mountain, But Please Speak Up
In Mark Chapter 9 we see Jesus, Peter, James, and John going up to hear God “Tell it on the mountain” (verse 1):
And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
The coming of the kingdom of God “with power” would seem to be a specific prophecy regarding Jesus’ resurrection since that would be witnessed by “some standing here”. The resurrection was also described as Jesus coming “with power” by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:3-4
“Concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord”
But the Transfiguration, which is about to unfold within the same week that Jesus says this, is also a kind of fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic words, since it displayed a temporary representation of His resurrection power and glory.
2 Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified. 7 Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!” 8 All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone.
The word “transfigured” literally means “changed in form.” This same verb is used to describe the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our lives in Romans 12:2, where we are told to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” and in 2 Corinthians 3:18 which tells us that we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.”
The fact that the two men who appeared with Jesus were Elijah and Moses ties the old covenant into the new covenant because Moses and Elijah were the messengers of the law and the prophets, and now they were together with Jesus and His apostles, who were the messengers of the new covenant of salvation and redemption. And the New Covenant was about to fulfill and replace the old one.
When Peter blurts out “Let us make three tents, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah” he is probably so overwhelmed by the glory of God shining through Jesus that he just wants to capture and prolong that moment as long as possible. But God knows that there is still work that needs to be done before Jesus fulfills His earthly mission, so He speaks from heaven several things that can be loosely translated as “Shut up, Peter. You have no idea what you are talking about!”
The first thing God says is “This is my beloved Son.” This first declaration is a divine revelation confirming the true identity of Jesus. There should be no doubt after this point that Jesus is truly the Son of God.
The second thing that God says is “listen to him”. This is both a reminder to Peter to listen rather than talk, as well as a declaration concerning the authority of Jesus as the true prophet of the new covenant. These words are also the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15, where Moses said that “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”
One powerful thing that came about as a result of this transfiguration experience was that Peter, James and John could now speak as the Voice of actual Eyewitnesses.
Look at 2 Peter 1:16
“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”
Now compare that to 1 John 1:1-3
“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
But of course the old saying tells us that “What goes up must come down” and so this mountaintop experience ends and the trip back down to real life continues:
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man rose from the dead. 10 They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant. 11 They asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him.”
Henry Drummond, the Scottish theologian said, “God does not make the mountains in order to be inhabited. God does not make the mountaintops for us to live on the mountaintops. It is not God’s desire that we live on the mountaintops. We only ascend to the heights to catch a broader vision of the earthly surroundings below. But we don’t live there. We don’t tarry there. The streams begin in the uplands, but these streams descend quickly to gladden the valleys below. The streams start in the mountaintops, but they come down to gladden the valleys below.”
As they are traveling back down, Jesus tells the three apostles not to tell anyone what just happened “until the Son of Man had risen from the dead”.
This causes some confusion among them because, from a Jewish perspective, there would only be one final resurrection at the last days, not an individual resurrection in the midst of their earthly lives. This was similar to what Martha said to Jesus when he told her that Lazarus would rise again.
In John 11:24 Martha says to Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
But what does Jesus say back to her in verse 25?
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies”
Then the disciples wonder “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus basically answers “Elijah did come first” which is a reference to John the Baptist. Although John the Baptist wasn’t actually Elijah risen from the dead, Jesus is explaining that Elijah was an Old Testament character who foreshadowed John the Baptist’s ministry. That’s why Luke 1:17 describes John the Baptist this way:
“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Just as Elijah suffered at the hands of Ahab and Jezebel, so John suffered at the hands of Herod and Herodias.
Now that they are all back on level ground, they immediately are faced with a spiritual crisis, one that was too big for the other disciples to handle:
14 When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. 16 And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” 19 And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” 20 They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” 26 After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up. 28 When He came into the house, His disciples began questioning Him privately, “Why could we not drive it out?” 29 And He said to them, “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
So let’s break down this incident. First of all, it is clear that this poor young boy was afflicted by a demonic spirit. The symptoms of his affliction were seizures, an inability to speak, and a self-destructive, almost suicidal tendency to toss himself into fire or water. According to his father, he has been this way for many years, and the best attempts at healing by the other disciples have had no effect on the boy.
In verse 19 Jesus seems a bit disappointed by the disciples failure, calling them an unbelieving or faithless generation. The interesting thing about Jesus’ encounter with the disciples’ lack of faith is that this happens just after He returns from the mount of Transfiguration, which is reminiscent of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments and finding the unbelieving and faithless Israelites worshipping a golden calf!
Notice also that Jesus kind of rebukes the boy’s father for saying “If you can do anything”. Jesus isn’t too hard on the Dad though. Jesus tells him, “this can happen if you believe it can.” But when the dad replies “Help my unbelief”, Jesus still heals the son by commanding the demon to come out.
When the disciples wonder why they couldn’t cast it out, Jesus answers “This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.”
Now think about this. Jesus didn’t pray for the boy to be delivered, he simply commanded the demon to leave. So the idea that more prayer was needed didn’t mean praying right then and there. I believe that Jesus was saying that we need to be “prayed up” if we expect God to move through us. He was able to do what the disciples couldn’t because he was continually in communion with the Father through prayer.
But that kind of prayerful attitude comes from putting our own agenda aside and completely surrendering to God’s agenda, which the disciples still hadn’t quite grasped. We’ll see that in these next few episodes:
30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.
This idea that the Son of God was going to offer up his life as a sacrifice just did not make sense to Jesus’ followers. It was the opposite of their mindset.
And this becomes apparent from the next thing Jesus asks them:
33 They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. 35 Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
I actually find it amusing and somewhat comforting how clueless the disciples were. He is talking about being killed and they are arguing about which one of them is the greatest. So Jesus gives them a lesson in humility and how they all need become like little children and look at what they say next:
38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is for us. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.
Think about this. The other disciples were trying to discourage this man from doing the work of the gospel because… “He was not following us.” It wasn’t that the man was not a follower of Jesus; after all, he was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. What they really meant is that the man didn’t recognize their authority as “the greatest” of Jesus’ disciples. It’s the very attitude that Jesus was just trying to correct!
So Jesus again reminds them how important it is to respect all fellow believers as God’s children:
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,44 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 45 If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. 47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
In verse 42 Jesus has a harsh warning for “Whoever causes harm to little ones”. This can refer either to actual children, or to any believer, especially new believers.
It’s a serious warning, but the part about cutting off body parts should be understood as the kind of exaggeration that is used to make a point. Jesus is simply talking about the need to completely renounce sinful habits at all costs.
The image of having “salt” in our lives describes the impact that true discipleship is supposed to have on the world around us. Salt is a preservative, and before the invention of refrigeration it was the only way to keep things from turning rotten. Jesus is telling His disciples to use humility and service to preserve the peace and unity of the church, rather than dividing it through a desire to be greater than everyone else.
Let’s summarize this chapter by looking at life on the mountaintop verses life down at ground level. We all love uplifting spiritual mountain-top experiences – whether they come in the form of a powerful worship time, an intense time of prayer, a fresh new understanding of the Bible, or receiving a prophetic word. There is nothing wrong with desiring those moments and allowing them to totally saturate our being. Have as many mountaintop experiences as you possibly can!
The tricky thing is avoiding the “Peter Syndrome” of wanting to build a tent on the mountaintop so that you never have to come down and deal with the “real” world.
You might want to stay there, but God needs your “salt” down here where lost and hurting people live.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that part of what is supposed to happen during our times at the top of the mountain is that we get a heavenly perspective that teaches us “this isn’t really about me and what I want – it’s about God and what HE wants!”
Remember this – if Jesus had stayed on the mount of transfiguration, he would have never gone to the cross. Then where would we all be?
Here is my honest suggestion for all of us: Go to the mountain. Connect with God there. Bring what he gives you there back down the mountain with you to share with others. Then go back up and start the process all over.
Sunday August 13th
For those who are watching their weight, I found this helpful list of 5 Dieting Rules:
The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
In the Old Testament there were at least 613 laws or rules that applied to the Jewish people’s lives. The Pharisees believed that God had given them exclusive knowledge of what these laws meant and how they should be interpreted and applied by everyone else. This made them very judgmental!
In verse 2 we are told “they saw some of his disciples eat bread with impure, that is to say, with unwashed, hands”
The Pharisees had been looking for reasons to find fault with Jesus, and now they noticed something that wasn’t right in their eyes. Jesus’ disciples were not washing their hands before eating.
But the Law of Moses really had no rule that every person had to wash their hands before every meal. As was typical for them, the Pharisees had extended the biblical instructions for priestly hand washing in preparation for the temple sacrifices (Ex. 30:19; 40:12) to include the eating of any food by any Jews at any time.
That’s what legalism tends to do…it keeps spreading further and further in the reach of its rules. If A originally used to be off limits, pretty soon B and C will be off limits too! (These are sometimes called fence laws)
One strange reason the Pharisees were so adamant about the washing of hands is because they believed that the washing of hands got rid of Shibta, which was an evil spirit which supposedly got upon the hands at night. Sounds like some strange superstition doesn’t it? There was no biblical grounds for this belief, only their own traditions.
But their religious rituals were so important to them that their rules, “the tradition of elders” were practically on the same level as God’s laws in their eyes.
Let’s look at how Jesus answered their concerns over the breaking of the tradition of the Elders:
6 And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
7 ‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
8 Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
That word “neglecting” the commandment of God can also mean “canceling,” or “abandoning”.
Jesus says, “You are so concerned about your own doctrines and commandments because you think your way is better than God’s way. Your tradition means more to you than what God says.”
Jesus points out to them that they completely fulfil the prophesy from Isaiah about people who give lip-service to God, but whose hearts are turned away from God.
Then Jesus gives a specific example:
9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; 11 but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
Corban was a Hebrew and Aramaic word, indicating something as dedicated for a religious purpose.
So if I saw that you had $20 and asked if I could borrow it, you might say, “Sorry, I can’t lend it to you, it’s Corban. I’m planning on putting it into the offering box this Sunday.” And I would have to accept that. So just by simply saying a vow to reserve their possessions as a gift to God, these Pharisees could avoid their responsibility for supporting their elderly parents.
“Sorry you have to live in that dilapidated old trailer, Mom and Dad, but I kind of promised to make a big donation to the temple this week, so any help I could’ve given you is already corban!”
By allowing people to declare things as corban, the Pharisees were actually encouraging them to break God’s commandment about honoring fathers and mothers.
I think what Jesus does next is really powerful. He calls the crowd over and publically makes it clear that the Pharisees rules are totally backwards:
14 After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15 there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Now that seems pretty plain, doesn’t it? Forget what these Pharisees are telling you. Hand-washing isn’t that important, but speaking foolish talk about God’s law is.
As usual the disciples are a little dense, so Jesus has to break it down for them even more clearly:
17 When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
So Jesus gives them a basic biology lesson. Food goes into the digestive system, not into the heart. The heart is more affected by bad attitudes than by bad food. The Pharisees were all wrapped up in preventing a little dirt from entering into a person’s mouth, while Jesus is much more focused on the filth that comes out of a person’s mouth, because our words reflect what’s going on in our hearts and in our minds.
Uncleanness of the heart, not the food we eat, is the real source of our sin problem.
The next little encounter that Jesus has also revolves around bread, but this is a different kind of bread:
24 Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.
It certainly seems shocking to most of us when Jesus refers to this woman and her poor sick daughter as dogs. We saw in Philippians chapter 3 that this term was a derogatory way that Jews commonly referred to gentiles. But Jesus is simply using this term to explain the complete plan, namely, that “salvation is for the Jews first”, and then it would be offered to the gentiles.
The children of Israel had to receive their bread first before it would be made available to the gentiles, or dogs. We can actually see that the woman understands exactly what Jesus means. Her reply indicates that she totally gets it. She knows that as a non-Jew she has no right to take away the bread that was intended for the people of Israel. She only wants a few crumbs of this salvation bread, not enough to rob the children of their blessing.
Jesus honors her humble acceptance of God’s plan and gives her the “crumbs” of healing bread that her daughter needs.
Keep in mind that all of us, whether Jews or gentiles, are true children of God by our faith in Jesus. We don’t ever have to settle for crumbs from the table. Jesus wants us to partake fully of the bread of life, which includes both our salvation and our healing.
To show that healing is included in the power of Christ, Mark includes one more miracle to finish this chapter:
31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
The prophet Isaiah had spoken words of encouragement from God to the people of Israel. In chapter 35 he says:
The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus
2 It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.
3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4 Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
The people had been waiting for signs that God was fulfilling his promise to save and to restore them. One of those signs was deaf ears being opened. So when the people see Jesus demonstrating this power it really gets their attention.
In fact, when John the Baptist was in prison, he started to wonder whether Jesus was truly the Messiah, even though he had called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.
In Luke 7:19-22 we see this:
Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” 20 When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’”21 At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
The miracles that he performed were one of the greatest proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God.
Here’s an interesting passage, because it compares John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus with the testimony of his miracles – It’s found in John Chapter 5, verses 33-36, where Jesus is answering those who were questioning whether he was the true Messiah:
33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
36 But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.
Yes, John had proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Lamb of God, but that was just the testimony of a man. The true testimony of Jesus was found in the miracles that he was working by the power of God – those were the ultimate proof that he had been sent by the Father!
Think about it this way – what is the true proof in each of our lives that Jesus is who he claimed to be? Isn’t it the miraculous power that has changed our lives? Isn’t that the ultimate reality of who Jesus is? If it were not for his power to save us and change us, where would our lives be today? Thank God for the miracle-working power of Jesus!