Scripture: Mark 7:24-30
Key verses: (28) But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Reflection: Here is an example of Jesus learning from the people he encountered, in this case an assertive, gentile woman.
Jesus, according to Mark, initially limited his ministry to the Jewish people. So what was he doing speaking with this Syrophoenician woman — a foreigner, a non-Jew?
Actually he didn’t want to talk with her at all. He had taken refuge in a house, trying to hide from the crowds. But this woman sought him out, invading his privacy.
You see, her daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit and mothers have been known to go to great lengths to care for their children. She came to Jesus and begged him to heal her daughter. But Jesus (and this is not the compassionate Jesus we know and love) insulted her and refused to help! “It is not fair to take the children’s food (for the Jewish people) and throw it to the dogs (to the non-Jews).” But the woman was quick. “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Whatever understanding Jesus had about who should eat the food he provided was brought up short by this desperate mother who challenged the limits of Jesus’ provision.
So, impressed, and corrected, Jesus healed the woman’s daughter at some distance without even seeing her. This woman/mother is the only person in Mark’s gospel who gets the upper hand in a conflict with Jesus. Her conversation changes Jesus. The next thing he does is to heal a blind man in a gentile area near the Sea of Galilee.
Is God/Jesus changed by our interaction? Does God/Jesus respond to our pleas when we make a case for intercession, even intervention? If Mark’s gospel is any guide, not only does God/Jesus respond to the pleas of God’s favored people, God responds to people we don’t favor.
We’re still talking about this Syrophoenician woman 2,000 year later!
Prayer: Hear our pleas, O God. Attend to our cries and heal all hurts, not only in us but in all those you love whoever and wherever they might be. In the responsive name of Jesus. Amen.
Author: Von Clemans
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].