8. The Approach

Mark 7: 24-26

The story begins with the mysterious statement that Jesus went to the vicinity of Tyre and did not want anyone to know it.  What was going on?  Well, Jesus had been spending all of his time ministering in Jewish provinces, and that ministry was drawing overwhelming crowds, and he was exhausted.  So Jesus left the Jewish provinces and went into a Gentile territory, Tyre, in order to get some rest.

A woman hears of his arrival and makes her way boldly to Jesus.  She knows that she has non of the religious, moral, and cultural credentials necessary to approach a Jewish rabbi — she is a Gentile, a pagan, a woman, and her daughter has an unclean spirit. She enters the house without an invitation, falls down and begins begging Jesus to exorcise a demon from her daughter.  

You know why she has this burst of boldness, don’t you?  If your child is in jeopardy, you simply do what it takes to save her.  You don’t think twice; you do what it takes.  So it is not all that surprising that this desperate mother is willing to push past all the barriers.  

So what is Jesus’s response to this woman as she is down on the floor begging?

Mark 7: 26-27

On the surface, this appears to be an insult.  What he is saying to the woman is, “Please understand, there is an order here.  I am going to Israel first, then the Gentiles later.”  However, this mother comes back at him with an astounding reply.

Mark 7: 28-30

In other words, she says, Yes, Lord, but the puppies eat from that table too, and I am here for mine.  Jesus has told her a parable in which he has given her a combination of challenger and offer, and she gets it.  She is not saying, “Lord, give me what I deserve on the basis of my goodness,” She is saying, “Give me what I don’t deserve on the basis of your goodness — I need it now.”

This woman’s persistence is a testimony to her trust in the sufficiency and surplus of Jesus.  This woman is the first person in Mark to hear and understand a parable of Jesus that she answers Jesus from “within” the parable, that is in the terms by which Jesus addresses her.

Note from King’s Cross: Understanding the Life and Death of Jesus

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