Jesus Loves the Least

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Mark

Mark 7:24-37, “Jesus Loves the Least”

In 2012, Pepsi MAX shot a short video of NBA rookie of the year Kyrie Irving in disguise as an elderly man scoping out one of the local basketball courts.  He’s brought into a local pickup game, and looks to be the least likely guy on the court to do anything, much less slam dunks.  As it turns out, he amazes everyone there, gaining an audience who had gathered to cheer the “old guy.”  Of course, the old guy wasn’t what they expected.

The least likely are the unexpected ones.  They’re the ones that no one pays attention to – sometimes, not even themselves.  They have nothing to offer, and no expectation to receive anything.  And yet, the least likely are the ones Jesus came to save.

That’s who Jesus encounters in the second half of Mark 7.  The first half dealt with Jewish issues; the second deals with Gentile people.  And not just ordinary Gentiles, who were unlikely enough to have any interaction with the Jewish Messiah – these were beyond the ordinary.  One was a woman (!) some 50+ miles away from the northern reaches of Judea.  The other was a man so physically disabled that he had no way of even asking for a healing from God.  These were people with no expectations.

These were the least of all people – the least likely to expect to receive anything from the God of Israel.  And yet they had encounters with Jesus like no other.  Jesus loves the least.

Mark 7:24–37
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.

  1. From there…”  From where?  Mark sets up a stark contrast with what had just taken place in his narrative.  Jesus had been ministering around the Sea of Galilee, and was likely in His home base of Capernaum when Pharisee and scribes from Jerusalem came to further investigate this Prophet.  People were rumbling to make this Man their king, and rumors were spreading that this might be the Messiah.  The Jewish leadership couldn’t have this happening, especially with this Man who had caused them so much trouble already, so the “official” scholars came from Jerusalem to check Him out.  They were looking for a reason to discredit Jesus, and they believed they had found it in the way His disciples ate their bread with unwashed hands. … Ultimately, the Pharisees had accused Jesus of undermining the Jewish culture and tradition.  They didn’t have a valid legal argument against Jesus, so they went with what they believed was the next best thing.  However, Jesus points out that even this was roundly hypocritical.  The Pharisees had distorted the law of God so much that they had invented traditions to skirt completely around the written word of God.  Jesus’ teaching was not dangerous to the people, but the Pharisees’ certainly was!  The Pharisees had been concerned with the external rituals of supposed purity, but God was concerned with the true cleansing of the heart.
  2. All of that sets up this contrast with the events that Mark describes next.  All of the previous had taken place in a Jewish area with very Jewish concerns and the Jewish leadership who had come down from Jerusalem.  Now Mark writes that “From there He arose and went to the region of Tyre and Sidon.”  IOW, he says that Jesus left the Jews and went to the Gentiles.  What we’re about to see is a contrast in cultures – and a contrast in faith.  The Jewish leadership was in the process of rejecting the Messiah who had been sent specifically to them.  Yet the Gentiles who had no background in the Scriptures, nor any reason to expect the grace of the Jewish Messiah at all are the ones who would receive Him in faith.
    1. Faith is sometimes found where it is least expected.
  3. So why “Tyre and Sidon”?  Obviously Jesus could have gone to any number of places – He was not limited by national borders or other concerns.  Mark doesn’t tell us why (nor does the parallel account in Matthew).  Scripture does tell us that Tyre had quite a history with the Jews. It was Hiram, king of Tyre that Solomon had purchased much of the materials from in order to build the temple in Jerusalem.  Afterwards, the relationship between the nations deteriorated, and there are several prophecies against Tyre in the OT, to the point that the king of Tyre is seemingly compared with Satan (Eze 28).  Yet that’s not all that is said of Tyre – the psalms show Tyre coming to the Messiah in worship during the Millennial Kingdom (Ps 45:12).  Perhaps there is a bit of a preview here.
  4. Whatever the reason, no doubt Jesus had a purpose in it (He HAD a reason).  Out of all the places Jesus could have gone, He went to this one region of Tyre and Sidon – and He went to this one particular location in Tyre & Sidon.  There isn’t any record of Jesus continuing a tour of ministry there.  He went to one city, and that was it – and obviously God the Father had Him do it.  Why?  Perhaps Jesus went all that way precisely to encounter this one woman.
  5. We do know this much about His trip: Jesus didn’t want to be flooded with people. He “wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden.”  It’s a curious detail, and one that is only brought out by Mark.  Why would Jesus want to be left alone?  After all, the very reason He came was so that He could seek and save the lost (Lk 19:10).  He came so that people could be reconciled to God and know Him as Christ the King and the Savior of the world.  Wouldn’t that necessitate Jesus getting around as many people as possible?  Of course – and no doubt, Jesus did exactly that on many occasions.  At the same time, we need to remember that even the Son of God needed some down-time.  Back in Ch. 6, that’s exactly what Jesus had set out to get with His disciples upon their return from their country-wide missionary journey – but they never got to have it.  As soon as the multitudes saw Jesus and the disciples depart, they pursued them & met them at the shore, and that’s when Jesus fed the 5000.  After that, the record of ministry doesn’t seem to stop at all, until the time Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees about the washing of hands.  This time, Jesus goes away – and FAR away!  So far that the Jewish multitudes wouldn’t follow Him there.  The one thing He could potentially have in Tyre and Sidon that He couldn’t get in Galilee was a bit of a break.
    1. This brings up the idea of the incarnation.  When speaking of the incarnation, we tend to focus on the fact that God the Son put on human flesh…and that is absolutely true.  In the incarnation, God became Man, and never lost His Godhood.  But He did gain something else: humanity.  Jesus IS God, but He ALSO is human.  God never tires, but people do.  God never gets hungry, but people do.  Jesus did not inherit our sin, but He did inherit our physical weaknesses.  Jesus the Man needed to rest, and that seems to be one of the things He attempted to do here.
    2. Take time to be amazed at even the little things that God did for you in Jesus Christ.  The eternal glorious almighty Son of God was willing to become physically weak on your behalf.  More than just the goal of going to the cross, Jesus fully lived the life of a human – experiencing all of the weaknesses, pains, and inconveniences that we do.  What humiliation!  What love & grace!
  6. Even in this, Jesus could not get the full rest He sought.  “He could not be hidden.”  The fact that Jesus could not be hidden goes to show how far His fame had spread.  Not only was Jesus known throughout Galilee – not only was He known throughout all Judea – Jesus was known even among the Gentiles, at least as far north as Tyre & Sidon.  (And who knows how much further than that?)
    1. When God reveals Himself in His glory and grace, it can’t be kept a secret.  The world notices. … That much is true even in the transformed life of a born-again believer.  When you put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord, the Holy Spirit comes into your life and transforms you from the inside-out.  That is the work of God, and it is apparent to everyone around you!  The work of God can’t ever be kept secret for long.

25 For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.

  1. One of the people who had heard of Jesus was a Gentile woman.  In fact, Mark goes to the extent of showing how far removed she was from the God of Israel.  Not only was she a “Greek,” but she was a “Syro-Phoenician by birth.”  IOW, not only was she immersed in the Greek Hellenistic culture, but she belonged to a completely pagan people.  This woman would have likely had zero exposure to any factual teaching about the true God, but at some point she had heard about Jesus, and what she heard made an impact.  Whoever this Man was, she knew that He had the power to cast out demons, and thus He had the power to heal her daughter.  (Anyone who has power over the devil has power from God!)
  2. When the woman came, she came with reverence.  She “fell at His feet.”  Matthew tells us that she worshipped Him (Mt 15:25) – Mark basically describes the same thing.  Ultimately, it is an act of humility and respect.  Someone would fall to the feet of a king, begging for mercy.  That’s what the woman does here with Jesus.  This Gentile woman demonstrates humble reverence for the Jewish Messiah as she puts herself at His feet.
  3. When the woman came, she came with persistence.  “She kept asking Him…”  She didn’t ask once, and then leave (as the disciples seemed to want her to do).  She asked & asked & asked again.  This was not likely the annoying questions when a child is trying to wear down his/her parents (“Are we there yet?”), but the heart-felt plea that was unwilling to give up easily.
    1. Too often we give up too easily in our prayers!  God DOES want us to ask in prayer, and many times He wants us to ask more than once.  Sometimes it seems that we believe our prayer requests ought to matter more to God than they do to us.  We might ask once, not bothering to ever give it another thought.  No doubt God hears us that one time, but He hears every other time we ask, as well.  Ask & keep asking.  Ask until you know you need to stop.

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.”

  1. This can be a shocking statement to our ears!  Where is the Jesus with such compassion?  Where is the Jesus who reaches out with love and grace?  What on earth is going on here with Jesus calling the woman a dog?  Be careful not to jump to conclusions!  It would be easy to read this and assume that Jesus is insulting the woman, but we need to be willing to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt.  After all, the reason Jesus’ statement seems so shocking to us is because it seems to be so out-of-character with everything else He’s demonstrated about Himself throughout the gospels.  And if our worst possible interpretation were true, then it WOULD be out of character!  When in doubt – when we come across something that is questionable that we don’t understand, we then need to fall back and begin our interpretation from a truth we DO understand.  We know that Jesus is loving & gracious & compassionate.  We’ve seen His compassion repeatedly demonstrated and actually pointed out to us in the Scripture.  Because He IS compassionate, we need to assume that there is compassion here as well…even if we have a difficult time seeing it at first.
    1. Always give God the benefit of the doubt!  There is no lack of criticism against God and the Bible today, with atheists and others trying to make God seem like a terrible monster.  Richard Dawkins has famously written in his book The God Delusion, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” The only fictional character Dawkins describes is the god he made up.  That certainly is NOT the God that is described in the OT (which isn’t fiction in the slightest).  It’s only when someone reads the OT with the mindset of attributing the worst motives to God possible that they can come up with this sort of description.  The God of the OT is no different than the God of the NT.  The God of the OT is loving, merciful, gracious, compassionate, and kind – and likewise the God of the NT is righteous, holy, and takes vengeance upon the wicked.  To be sure, when we read some of the accounts of God in the OT, we might have some questions – and a quick reading without taking time to understand God’s point of view can easily come up with some bad assumptions…but it is the assumptions that are the problem.  Give God the benefit of the doubt.  Take the time to think things through.  Take the time to try to look at the bigger picture of what God is doing.  When we do so, the true character of God shines through, and it is golden!
  2. So if we give Jesus the benefit of the doubt, what do we find?  First, we find Him engaging with the woman in conversation.  That in itself, is merciful.  Culturally speaking, a man did not need to answer a woman – and that would apply doubly for a Jewish man who was approached by a Gentile woman.  (To answer the woman at all might be questionable to some Jewish teachers!)  The disciples had actually tried to get rid of the woman, and specifically asked Jesus to send her away (Mt 15:23), but He didn’t do it.  He answered her and engaged in conversation.  Second, Jesus never actually tells the woman “no.”  He places a priority on His ministry, but He leaves open the possibility that more ministry might be done.  (An idea that the woman picks up very quickly!)  Third, Jesus does acknowledge a difference between her and the disciples (and other Jews), but it is less than what it may appear to be on the surface.  Culturally speaking, there was the feral dog of the streets (which were considered unclean, and would have been a terrible insult), and there was the pet dog of the home (who might actually be so close to the family that they would eat scraps underneath the table).  Jesus specifically used the form of the word that referred to the dog of the home.  The woman (and other Gentiles) were certainly different than the Jewish children of God, but they were still part of the household.
    1. Notice that all of that is determined directly from the text; not speculation about it.  Just by giving Jesus the benefit of the doubt, and taking time to look closer at what the Scripture actually says, we’re able to see the loving merciful character of Jesus shine through!
  3. So with all that in mind, what is Jesus actually saying?  (1) There IS a difference between the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the people that Jesus had been sent to directly.  In our salvation, there is no difference between Jew & Gentile, but in the eternal plan of God there most definitely IS a distinction.  The Bible repeatedly shows Jew and Gentile as different, even as God’s plan for salvation is the same.  Jesus makes peace between Jew & Gentile, and the Church is one singular unified body…but before and after the Church (prior to the cross, and after the rapture), there is a repeated difference in Scripture.  Even salvation proceeds first FROM the Jews, and then to the rest of the world (Rom 1:16).  At this point in Jesus’ ministry, He had not yet gone to the cross & His first ministry was to the Jews.  Jewish prophecy regarding their Messiah needed to be fulfilled, and God’s plan and timing could not be altered from that.  (By the way, there is even grace here for the Gentile.  If God is so steadfast in keeping His promise to the Jews, surely we can trust God to be steadfast in keeping His promise to us, too!)  (2) There was more ministry yet to come!  “Let the children be filled first,” shows the priority in filling; not the end of it.  Those who were not children would have an opportunity to be filled as well – just everything in the proper order.  (3) The God of Israel takes notice of Gentiles, too.  Again, there might be historical and cultural differences between Jews & Gentiles, but that does not mean that they (WE) are left out of the plan of God.  God had a plan to extend grace to the Gentiles from the very beginning! God’s initial covenant with Abraham was that through him, all the nations of the world would be blessed (Gen 12:3), which includes Jew AND Gentile.  Isaiah 49:6, "Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”" []  The Messiah for the Jews was always to be the Savior of the Gentiles – this is the eternal plan of God.

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

  1. Far from being insulted, the woman picks up on exactly what Jesus said.  She understood immediately that Jesus had not called her a dog of the streets, but had included her as part of the household.  Just as pets catch the overflow from the table as crumbs drop to the ground, so could she (and other Gentiles) catch the overflow of grace even as the Jewish Messiah ministered to His people.  Salvation comes first to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles, but Jesus did not have to take His attention away from the Jews one bit for her to partake of His goodness.  He was already right there, and the omnipotent God can do all things.
  2. What an amazing statement of faith from this woman who was least likely to have it!  The fact that she calls Jesus “Lord” does not (by itself) mean that she was acknowledging Him to be God – the word could simply mean “Sir,” and she could be addressing Him with respect.  But to take in the rest of the context and see that she trusts this Man implicitly to care for her & her daughter strongly indicates that she DID see Him as the Lord God.  She knew she could trust this Man to have power over the devil – she knew that she could trust this Man’s grace given unto all – she even knew she could rely upon this Man, no matter what position she held in the kingdom of God.  There’s only one word for that kind of trust: faith.
  3. Jesus saw that faith immediately, and responded…

29 Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And when she had come to her house, she found the demon gone out, and her daughter lying on the bed.

  1. Jesus loves faith!  To read the response in Mark, we might not pick up on Jesus’ excitement over the woman, though Matthew brings it out in full.  Matthew 15:28, "Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour." []  Jesus saw the extent of her faith as she expressed it in her humble statement, and He responded immediately.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6), but true faith pleases God immensely!
  2. Notice in Mark the reason WHY Jesus responds: “For this saying, go your way.”  Two aspects to this: (1) If the woman had been proud, Jesus would not have responded.  She didn’t buck up and argue the fact that she was a human being made in the image of God, and was just as much a child as any Jew.  She didn’t do anything to try to prove her own worth, because she understood that (by herself) she didn’t have any worth.  (2) If the woman had been silent, Jesus would not have responded.  She could have been humble, but saddened at Jesus’ test, and turned around to walk away.  Jesus was obviously willing to heal this woman’s daughter, but He desired to do something in the woman herself as well.  She would have never experienced it if she hadn’t reached out in faith to Jesus.  Healing was available for the asking; she needed to ask.
    1. Likewise with us in salvation.  When confronted with the reality of our sin, we might want to buck up in pride.  We might want to try to justify our actions, and find any sort of excuse to try to argue our way out of being labeled a sinner.  But we are what we are.  If we are to experience the salvation of God through faith, then we must be humble. 
    2. In addition, we’ve got to ask for it.  We cannot stay silent and be saved.  Many people hear the gospel, even believing that Jesus might actually be God who came in the flesh and died upon the cross.  If you walked up to random people in Tyler & asked them who Jesus is, most folks would probably give you that answer…  However, only a percentage of them are born-again Christians.  How so?  They may know the truth, but they never responded to the truth.  We must respond to Jesus if we are to be saved!  (Romans 10:9)
  3. BTW – when did the healing take place?  Immediately.  Jesus doesn’t travel to her home, or even leave the house He was already in.  He had done that at other times, but not here.  It wasn’t necessary with the faith of this woman.  With the Jewish leader of the synagogue, Jairus, Jesus had gone to the man’s house to lay hands on his dead daughter.  There, Jesus’ presence was needed to encourage Jairus to keep believing.  But here, Jesus’ physical presence was not needed for her faith.  Like the Roman centurion, this woman believed Jesus could do whatever He wanted from wherever He wanted.  The overflow of grace was enough – and it was!
    1. As born-again Christians, we have the promise of Jesus’ presence.  He is always with us, even to the end of the age.  Our bodies are indwelt with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we are not left as orphans.  That said, our Lord Jesus is physically in Heaven.  To this day, He is still physically incarnate, and He sits at the right hand of God the Father (all part of the ascension).  Jesus does not have to be physically present with us to work in our lives – He is more than capable of doing whatever needs to be done from wherever He is at.

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.

  1. It was a long trip to the north, and a long trip back down to the south where the Sea of Galilee is located.  Nothing else is recorded as taking place, though Jesus surely encountered people along the way.  There seems to have been no other purpose in Jesus going there, other than an attempt to find rest, and the encounter with the woman.  Jesus went a long way to have a conversation with a single Gentile woman, but in His eyes, she was worth it.  (Jesus went just as far to save us!)
  2. Notice that when Jesus return to the Sea of Galilee, He doesn’t do so by going back to the Jewish region.  This time, Jesus stays among the Gentiles as He goes “through the midst of the region of Decapolis.”  As Mark continues his narrative, he continues in this contrast with the faith of the Jews and the Gentiles.  The Jewish leadership was trying to undermine Jesus, so He was ministering to those who would listen.  The Gentiles were not likely to hear and receive from the Jewish Messiah (they were the dogs!), but these seemed to be very receptive to Jesus, trusting in His ability to heal.

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.

  1. This man was “brought” to Jesus.  He had not come, but his neighbors brought him.  We need to be careful reading too much into this, as Mark is the only gospel writer that records this event.  We don’t know if this man had not wanted to respond – we don’t know if this man had not understood that Jesus was there & who Jesus was – we don’t know if his friends got him to that point, or if the crowd simply pushed him forward.  All we know is people knew this man needed help, and they knew Jesus could help him.  People from Decapolis had no doubt been among the crowds around Galilee who had followed Jesus, and when Jesus freed the man in Gadarenes from the legion of demons, Decapolis is where he went to go preach (Mk 5:20).  No doubt, Jesus’ reputation was well-known!  Now that Jesus had shown up, they went and brought the most difficult case they could find to Him.
  2. This man couldn’t respond to Jesus if he wanted to.  Unlike the Syro-Phoenician woman who could give voice to her faith, this man “had an impediment in his speech,” which was undoubtedly bad enough for Mark to mention.  This was more than the man having a difficult time communicating; it was an inability to communicate.  As the people summarize in vs. 37, he was effectively mute.  How could this man give voice to faith?  How could this man respond to Jesus?  He was already a Gentile, and a disabled one at that – and now he could not even physically respond to the God of Salvation in his midst.  This is another person that would seem the least likely to receive of grace.
  3. What is a problem for the man is no problem for Jesus.  The man may not have been able to physically respond, but the Son of God knew exactly what needed to be done.  See vs. 33…

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

  1. If Jesus’ statement to the woman seemed unusual, no doubt Jesus’ actions here seem unusual.  Taking the man away from the crowd is one thing (getting away from the chaos & influence of others), but why would Jesus do all of this?  We might expect Jesus to touch the man in healing, but we haven’t seen anything like this before.  Again, we need to give Jesus the benefit of the doubt.  As God, Jesus knows exactly what He’s doing, and He’s got a purpose in it all.
    1. Do we really trust that God knows what He’s doing?  Do we really trust His purposes?  Sometimes God has His own timing that we have to wait upon – sometimes He might do something unusual in our lives – sometimes He might ask US to do something unusual in faith (as when God told Joshua to march around Jericho as a means of conquering the city).  Do we really trust God with these things?  Do we trust that He knows what He’s doing?
  2. In this case, Jesus’ unusual actions make sense when we stop to consider the situation.  Jesus did not touch the man’s ears & tongue to heal him (the healing doesn’t take place until vs. 35); He touches the man’s head to communicate with him. This may not be ASL, but it’s sign language.  Keep in mind that the man can neither hear, nor speak…but he CAN see & feel.  The crowd had brought the man to Jesus asking for a healing, but Jesus wants the man to have faith on his own.  Jesus is telling the man what He intends to do, and He is giving the man an opportunity to believe.

34 Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.

  1. Why did Jesus sigh?  Great question!  No one knows.  Some believe that He sighed because He was saddened due to the awful things of the human condition.  Some believe Jesus sighed in sympathy.  Some believe that He sighed as a way of showing the man that He was about to pray.  The truth is, the Scripture simply doesn’t tell us why Jesus sighed.  All it does is provides one more detail showing us the real humanity of our Lord Jesus.  We can easily imagine Jesus looking to heaven, sighing, and proclaiming the man’s healing. 
  2. The fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic to the man is interesting, considering he was in Decapolis.  Although Greek was the language spoken around the Gentiles and not the Jewish Aramaic dialect, no doubt many of the Gentiles that lived so close to the borders of Judea understood Aramaic.  Of course, the language Jesus spoke makes little difference to a deaf man.  The man didn’t hear the words Jesus uttered, but he definitely heard everything that followed!
  3. How quick did it occur? “Immediately.”  We’re not told how long the man had suffered with this condition, but we know for a fact that it came to a quick end!  All of a sudden, he could hear Jesus speaking to him, and he himself could speak in response.  Wouldn’t you love to know what his first words were? 

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

  1. Although the miracle was done privately, obviously it could not stay silent.  It would have been apparent the moment the man left Jesus.  As many time before, Jesus “commanded” silence, but to no avail.  People spread the news quickly – seemingly in proportion to how much Jesus had told them otherwise.
  2. There had already been rumblings among the people to force Jesus to be made king – every miracle Jesus performed simply pushed the momentum along.  Jesus wasn’t going to stop working miracles, but He did everything He could to ensure that things would proceed according to the timing and plan of God.
  3. At the same time, we can hardly fault the people for their disobedience.  No doubt we would have done the exact same thing.  The work of Jesus is too amazing for us to keep silent…or at least, it ought to be.  We do not have the same command as the Gentiles of Decapolis to keep silent; Jesus has commanded us to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations.  We have seen greater miracles than the deaf being given their hearing – we’ve seen those who were spiritually dead become spiritually alive!  Yet so often, we are the ones who don’t say a word.  May it never be so!  May we be those who proclaim the news to everyone we see!

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.”

  1. The people were rightly “astonished” by what they saw.  This was no charlatan passing through town.  This was no pretender.  They had heard the news of Jesus, and flocked to Him – perhaps even testing Him with this man they brought forward.  Now that the man was completely healed, they knew beyond a doubt that Jesus was exactly as powerful as had been proclaimed.  Just as God declared all things to be good in creation, so did Jesus make everything good in His restoration.  The Son exercised the same almighty power as the Father, and showed Himself to have all the power of God.

These were Gentiles – these were people who had no reason to expect anything from the Jewish Messiah.  They wouldn’t have expected a visit, much less a healing.  Yet the Messiah came among them, and gave grace.  The Gentiles ended up being more astonished than the Jewish theologians who had come from Jerusalem.

The Syro-Phoenician woman had no reason to encounter Jesus – she had no reason to have any faith – she had less reason to expect Jesus to do anything for her…but He did.  The deaf & mute man also had little to no reason to expect anything from Jesus – he hadn’t even personally gone to Jesus, and he wouldn’t have been able to ask for anything if he tried.  Yet Jesus healed him, too.  These were the least likely to experience the grace and power of God, but that is just what they received.

You might think you are the least likely to receive God’s grace…and you would be right.  In our sin, we’re not only separated from God, but we are enemies against Him.  We don’t deserve any kindness from God, much less the offer of eternal salvation & abundant life with Him.  But Jesus loves the least likely…and praise God, that He does!

Today, perhaps you need to renew your trust in the Lord.  Maybe you’ve gotten tangled up in the weeds of sin again, and you need to be reminded that Jesus loves you and died for you.  You may think you’re unworthy of the grace of God – and (just like me) you are.  But that’s why it’s called grace.  We ARE unworthy.  We ARE unlikely.  And Jesus still died for us, and still loves us, continually cleansing us from our sin.  Be renewed by His grace today as you come humbly and reverently to Him, trusting Him and His promise.

Perhaps there’s someone with which you need to follow Jesus’ example.  Maybe there’s someone in your life who does not deserve an ounce of grace, but to whom you need to extend it.  Jesus did not withhold it from those in need – even when they couldn’t respond for themselves.

  1. John Warren Jr. says:

    What most strikes me from this passage is the Gospel going to the Gentiles. As it is written in another place, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). The disciples were still coming to terms with the implications in Acts 10 and Acts 15.

  2. timburns says:

    Exactly. It took a while for it to sink in, for the disciples…yet this was God’s plan all along.

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