Mark 7:24-30 – The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

Christian MölkMark Leave a Comment

Mark 7:24

  1. Tyre was an important port city in Phoenicia (present-day Lebanon).
  2. We have seen earlier in Mark that Jesus has tried to withdraw from the crowds in order to rest and teach the disciples a little more undisturbed (Mark 6:32-34).
    1. Having failed to escape in the past, Jesus now goes away from Jewish areas and stays among the Gentiles in the hope that no one will recognise him.
    1. Jesus’ focus was normally on the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).
  3. Wherever Jesus goes, he becomes known.
    1. In the same way, our faith in Jesus should make people around us immediately recognise Jesus in us.

Mark 7:25

  1. The woman shows signs of desperation by coming straight to Jesus, but at the same time she shows great respect for Jesus by falling down before him.
  2. This woman’s neighbors had visited Jesus, but unfortunately she had not been able to find him herself (Mark 3:8).
    1. Now, when Jesus suddenly appears, she wastes no time and hurries to meet him.

Mark 7:26

  1. Here Mark makes it abundantly clear that she was a Gentile, i.e. a “non-Jew”.
    1. The term “Gentile” (goyim in Hebrew) has its background in the fact that the people of Israel were not allowed to have any association with the seven nations living in the land of Canaan when Joshua invaded (Exodus 23:28-33).
    1. Although not stated in the Old Testament, in Jesus’ time it was unusual for Jews to have any dealings with Gentiles because according to the above-mentioned statutes of the elders” (and later also written down in the Mishnah) they were considered “unclean”.
      1. By visiting this pagan area, Jesus shows that he does not obey this Jewish tradition.
      1. God shows Peter that he and the other Christians should not look upon Gentiles as “unholy” or “unclean” (Acts 10:28).

Mark 7:27

  1. Generally speaking, the “children” symbolize the Jews, and the “dogs” the Gentiles.
    1. Jesus’ mission was directed first and foremost to the Jewish people (Matthew 15:24, Acts 13:46, Romans 1:16).
    1. Paul teaches in Ephesians that the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles has been torn down with Jesus’ death on the cross. But since Jesus had not yet died on the cross at that time, the Gentiles must wait (Ephesians 2:11-22).
    1. After the wall of partition was torn down, it was time for Jesus to send his disciples to the Gentiles and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).
  2. Among both Jews and Gentiles, “dog” was a very negative slur associated with stray wild dogs.
    1. Jesus, however, does not use the usual word for dog but calls her literally “little puppy”, in a much more positive sense.
    1. So Jesus’ parable shows that although there is a difference between children and puppies, both fit within one household and both get the food they need.
  3. In this specific case, the “children” symbolize Jesus’ disciples, and the “dogs” symbolize the woman and her daughter.
    1. Jesus had probably come to this area to be alone with his disciples and to teach them a little more privately.
      1. The woman insists that although Jesus gives the disciples “bread”, the household puppies can actually get some crumbs at the same time.
  4. Jesus challenges the woman to see that although the Jews hear about Jesus first, the Gentiles also have access to Jesus. If she believes this, she will also receive what she asks for. 

Mark 7:28

  1. This woman understands that Jesus is not rejecting her when he answers her with this parable.
  2. The woman combines an unshakeable belief in Jesus’ ability to perform miracles with a humble acceptance that she is just a puppy.
    1. The world is full of people with just one of these qualities.
      1. You may have an amazing faith that God is good and will give you what you need. Your faith is so strong that when for some reason you don’t get what you ask for, you start demanding it from God. You are absolutely right that God is good and that he loves to give, but you could use some humility.
      1. Another person, on the contrary, may be humble, but lack faith that God wants to give. You may think that you are the most insignificant person in the world; why should God hear your prayer? You need to realise how incredibly loved you are by God and that he actually wants to answer your prayers.
    1. She recognizes her own smallness and accepts her position but refuses to abandon her faith in God and insists that He intervene in her situation.
    1. If we approach God with respect and recognise our own smallness, the Bible encourages us to stand up and refer to God’s goodness and insist that he give us what we ask for.

Mark 7:30

  1. The unnamed woman is a wonderful example of a good intercessor.
    1. She actively takes over another person’s problem and asks Jesus for help.
    1. She really believed that Jesus could help by asking him for this.
    1. She is desperate in that she immediately comes to Jesus.
    1. She shows great respect for Jesus by falling down before him.
    1. She does not give in when Jesus initially gives a seemingly dismissive response.
  2. She humbly accepts that Jesus calls her a little puppy.
Share & Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *