“But she answered him, ‘Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.’ And he said to her, ‘For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.’ And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.” - Mark 7:28-30
Throughout this narrative, Mark depicts the Gentile woman as the model disciple. She recognized who Jesus was and believed in his power and authority. She acknowledged that God’s salvation plan began with the nation of Israel and would then spread to the Gentiles. Rather than being offended by Jesus’ words and the scoffing disciples, she remained humble and admitted she was unworthy. She persevered, despite all of the obstacles that blocked her path. She placed her trust, not only in Jesus’ power and plan, but in his love and compassion. A Gentile woman exemplified faith in the Messiah, the Son of God, who came to bring the kingdom of God into the world.
In today’s reading, Jesus also commended her faith and perseverance. Remember, this woman was not raised or trained in the ways of the Lord; she did not know any of the rules or rituals of Judaism. She simply believed and persisted. Even as Jesus challenged her, she laid her desperate need at his feet and trusted him to provide. I can picture his face glowing with love, affection, and joy as he announced that the demon had fled her daughter and sent her home. This is the only account in Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus healed someone from a distance. He did not need to see, touch, talk to, or be anywhere near the girl to expel the unclean spirit. For those who doubted his authority, it was a powerful demonstration. For the mother, it was an affirmation of what she believed all along, that Jesus could and would heal her child.
Her faith that Jesus would expand God’s kingdom beyond the nation of Israel was also affirmed. It had long been prophesied that all peoples would eventually come into the covenant of the Lord. When God called Abraham, he told him that all nations would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3). The prophet Isaiah foretold a messianic banquet: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined” (Isaiah 25:6). God’s promises and blessings were not reserved for the Israelites; his plan was always to extend them to believers of every nation, tribe, and tongue.
The banquet imagery calls to mind the parable of the wedding feast. First, the father sent all of his friends and family members invitations. Then he sent them reminder notices. And yet, when the big day arrived, many of his guests made excuses or simply didn’t show up. After a while, he sent the servants out into the streets to invite anyone they could find. Everyone was welcome, as long as they put on the wedding garments provided by the host.
As Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God, many Jews chose not to attend the celebration. They rejected his invitation, and so he extended it to all believers. The Gentile woman accepted with joy, gratitude, and expectation. You too are welcome in the kingdom of God. You too are invited to this messianic feast. The only requirement is that you wear the robe of righteousness that Jesus provided through his death and resurrection. Will you accept?
May we follow the example of this Gentile woman and commit our whole hearts to following Jesus until he calls us home for that final feast!
Reflect and Respond:
How does this woman’s faith and perseverance inspire and challenge you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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