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Breaking Down Barriers
Breaking down the great Gentile barrier and great faith God gave to do it
The Syrophoenician woman and her demon-possessed daughter
Mark 7:24 to 30
There are all kinds of barriers to overcome in life. Jean likes tomato soup with vegetables in it and I like it plain–a preference barrier. Our dog Cali wants to sit on all the furniture in the house–a bad dog barrier. In New Zealand, certain terms used there are offensive here, and certain terms used here are offensive there–a language barrier. Sometimes when we talked to our boys they got this look on their face that said, “All I hear is Charlie Brown, ‘WA-WA’”–a parental barrier. When people come to our church, they see people dressed casually and think, “Hey, they take God casually”–a cultural barrier.
Barriers come in many shapes and sizes, but the strongest of them is the religious barrier. When your beliefs are in conflict with truth, when what you have followed all your life is now exposed as errant, or incorrect or incomplete according to God’s Word–then you have to cross a religious barrier. This barrier is so intense, people leave churches, cause divisions, and fight with brothers and sisters. (And on the world stage, people kill each other over religious differences.)
One of the greatest differences that still exists today is the religious barrier between Jew and Gentile. By the first century, instead of reaching out to the lost people around them, the Jews hated the Gentiles. According to Jewish tradition, not God’s Word, those who are non-Jews were so distorted that any contact with a Gentile caused a Jew to become seriously unclean, requiring all kinds of ceremonial washings and rituals in order to restore cleanliness.
Turn in your Bibles to Mark 7 and follow along with your outline. Jesus just took on the religious leaders over the issue of what really defiles a person. It is not what they touch outside them, but it is actually their own sinful hearts inside them that defiles. Jesus showed them they were following man’s traditions over God’s truth–they were focusing on cleaning up the outside, when God alone must clean up their fallen, sinful heart internally.
And immediately after this incredible debate where Christ shows these leaders how they have violated God’s law with their legalism, Jesus leaves for another region–a region Jewish tradition says will defile Him and His men. But a region filled with desperate lost people who happen to be Gentiles. Both Jew and Gentile must be made internally clean–this is universal. To be saved you must be given a new heart. To receive salvation, you must be transformed from within, which always affects your behavior without. Salvation must be of the heart, and only God can change the heart. Christ alone is God in the flesh, and only He can transform you. And that message is so powerful, it can even transform a Gentile.
Read what Jesus does starting in Mark 7 verse 24–and as I do, think about those you know who seem impossible to reach with the Gospel. “Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ 28 But she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.’ 29 And He said to her, ‘Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’ 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.”
This passage is about salvation given to a Gentile. It is not primarily about her great faith, but about our great God. It is not about her response, but Christ’s work in her heart. It is about Christ breaking a barrier–like a crack in the strongest dam that will soon lead to a flood of God’s grace across the world. Salvation was not meant merely for the Jews in the Old Testament. Salvation was not meant merely for the Jews in the New Testament, and salvation is meant for all men of every culture for all time.
But there was a huge barrier up between Jew and Gentile. All of Mark’s original audience knew it–they had experienced it. Jewish superiority, snobbery, even disgusting looks given to Roman citizens by those who considered themselves better than they were. Now Mark shows his Roman readers and us how Jesus broke through that barrier, and celebrates the faith given to a woman who is a model for all Gentiles in coming to Christ for salvation and help. So what are . . .
#1 The Circumstances leading to a Gentile’s salvation Verse 24
Radical events lead to dramatic change. Feeding the 5,000, the attempt to make Christ king, the rejection of the crowds who want external bread not eternal bread—all lead to a verbal battle with the religious leaders who bring the knife of tradition, but find themselves blown away by the shotgun of God’s truth. The Lord hits them with both barrels–the Law and the Prophets, proving their traditions are errant, not God’s will.
They championed conformity to behavioral externals, and Christ championed the transformation of the heart by God Himself. The hypocrites lose this battle badly, in that they refuse to reject manmade traditions and embrace God’s Word. So the religious overseers are publicly humiliated, and an entire crowd witnessed this defeat. Christ proved they had violated God’s Law, and they had missed genuine salvation by God.
Hypocrites in power hate being challenged and embarrassed, so the situation turns hot and becomes dangerous. But it’s not yet time to go to the cross, so the Lord removes Himself temporarily from the heat to demonstrate a powerful truth that Mark’s Roman readers will not miss. As the Jewish leaders reject the Gospel of grace, God cracks the door open for the Gentiles. Later on this door will be thrown wide open for Gentiles.
On the heels of the official delegation from Jerusalem turning their back on their own Law and their own Prophets, Christ foreshadows the way of salvation opening to the Gentiles, pointing to a coming day when the door will be wide open. Look at verse 24, “Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.” Notice Jesus’ departure was intentional, geographical, seclusional and recognizable.
First INTENTIONAL Verse 24 “Jesus got up and went away from there”
The religious leaders are telling Christ, “Our rules will save us.” Jesus tells them their rules can only change their external behavior. Their hearts are still far from God, sick with sin, and unredeemed. They must be born again–God must save them. They cannot save themselves–they need God’s righteousness, not their own self-righteousness. They may look good on the outside, but they are still terminally ill on the inside. But they’ve rejected that shocking truth, and as a result they’ve rejected Christ, salvation, hope, eternal life, forgiveness and more.
In response to their rejection, Jesus got up and went away from there. Mark indicates Jesus is making an intentional move here. He normally begins new paragraphs in his Gospel with a kai–an “and”. But here he employs a rarely used the participle de, a “but” or “now”. And Mark uses it in verse 24, 26 and 28 signifying something different. It literally is “but or now from there, having stood up Jesus went off.”
Jesus not only took a stand against the Jewish leaders and their current form of Judaism, but now Jesus leaves for non-Jewish territory, symbolically breaking down the barrier which kept the Gospel from the Gentiles. Now at the end of the debate about what is unclean, Jesus heads for a region considered unclean by the Pharisees–an intentional move, and also . . .
Second GEOGRAPHICAL Verse 24 “to the region of Tyre”
The parallel passage in Matthew describes it this way. Matthew 15:21, “Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.” This moment was a definitive, geographical withdrawal from Jewish territory to Gentile territory northwest of Galilee. As the crow flies, Tyre is about 30 miles away from Capernaum, and about 40 to 50 miles on foot or two to three days.
Tyre is in the land of Phoenicia. In ancient times, Tyre enjoyed an alliance with King David. Later Tyre was wiped out by Alexander the Great in fulfillment of an incredible prophecy in Ezekiel 26. In the early days of the Roman Empire, Phoenicia was politically a part of Syria, but geographically and culturally it remained distinctly Greek. This was a geographical move to a foreign region, and also . . .
Third SECLUSIONAL Verse 24 “And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it”
The Lord and His men were under pressure from the multitudes trying to make Christ king. They rightly saw His miracles as evidence that He was the Messiah, but they wrongly saw the Messiah as one who would deliver them from the Romans, and missed their need for deliverance from their sins.
They were under pressure from Herod, who might arrest or kill Jesus thinking He was John the Baptist back from the dead. And they were under pressure by the religious leaders who continue to want to kill Christ. As A.T. Robertson says, “There was too much excitement among the people, too much bitterness among the Pharisees, too much suspicion on the part of Herod and too much dullness on the part of the disciples for Jesus to remain in Galilee.”
With one year left in His public ministry, Christ needed time to be alone with His disciples, and to prepare them for the cross and their coming apostolic ministry. So Christ goes to the home of some unnamed friend, and tried to get time with His men in seclusion from all. But even though His greater purpose was seclusion from the public, a lot of ministry happened and Mark records three great events that took place in this region. Christ was simply too well-known and . . .
Fourth RECOGNIZABLE Verse 24 “yet He could not escape notice”
Jesus couldn’t remain hidden. Christ’s ministry has been so impactful His fame had spread to all the regions around Galilee. Why? To bring about the salvation of a Gentile woman. But there is still some unique steps needed.
#2 The PREPARATION needed to save a Gentile Verses 25 to 26
Read verse 25, “But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet.” The language is more dramatic here in the Greek–it is literally, “But immediately having heard a woman concerning Him.” It strongly points to God’s providential preparation getting the woman ready for the arrival of Christ.
First She was prepared beforehand to turn to Christ
The Greek text is telling us this woman is ready to act. Verse 25 actually begins with “but immediately having heard.” “But immediately” is emphatic, written first in the verse, indicating the moment she knew Jesus was in town, she moved. Once it was known that Jesus, verse 24, didn’t escape notice. Once she heard Christ was there, she immediately stepped into action. Like reveille for a soldier, or the bell for a fireman, she jumped. How did she react so quickly? The New Testament implies three strong possibilities.
1 Certainly she had heard about Christ
Verse 25, “But after hearing of Him, …came and fell at His feet.”
Verse 26, “…she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.”
The moment she heard He was in town, she displayed divine reverence by falling at His feet. And she affirmed His authority over demons by asking Jesus to deliver her daughter. She obviously knew about Christ’s ability and authority. Maybe . . .
2 Someone she personally knew had been impacted by Christ
Someone she knew had heard Christ teach or had seen Christ heal or cast out demons. The certainty she displays in approaching Christ, and her repeated request assumes she knows Christ can deliver her daughter from a demon. She is not displaying a chancy hope, but a certain confidence in Christ, possibly from one she knew. And possibly . . .
3 She had actually heard Christ teach God’s Word and explain the Gospel of internal heart transformation
This may surprise you, but Mark told us there were many from Tyre who’d seen and heard Christ already. Mark 3:8 is direct, “and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him.” Jewish neighbors might have heard Christ, been healed by Christ or delivered from a demon. Jews outside of Israel were much friendlier to Gentiles than those inside of Israel, and she might have had some tell her about Christ’s power and Christ’s message.
It could be that she had already been impacted with the Gospel–that’s right. Luke actually informs us there were people from Tyre who were present when Christ gave the Sermon on the Mount, that powerful sermon on the heart, as opposed to the externalism of the Jews. Luke 6:17, “Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon.”
People from Tyre were present hearing that sermon. She possibly heard Christ herself, probably heard from someone whose life was dramatically changed. But most certainly she was told about His ability and power, since the fame of Christ spread even to Gentile lands.
Second She was prepared by an extreme need
Read on in verse 25, “a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately.” As this woman approaches Christ, nothing is said about her husband, so she may be a widow. But regardless, she’s a woman in great need.
Out of hatred for God, the most massive demonic assault by possession occurred during the earthly life of Christ. And sadly, that attack was not limited to Jews, but also Gentiles. Even worse, this satanic war affected children as well as adults. Mark calls her a little daughter, describing her as young and beloved. And since later, in verse 30, this little girl is described as laying calmly on her bed after the demon is gone, it’s reasonable to assume this demon affected the girl violently–even savagely. Her mother tells Jesus in the gospel of Matthew, her daughter is cruelly demon-possessed, telling us this demon is torturing, scarring and maiming this child.
Parents, picture your little girl possessed by a vicious demon, and day after day there is no help, no cure, and no medicine. There is absolutely nothing you can do for them. But you’ve heard what Jesus Christ can do–that Christ has the authority and ability to cast out demons.
Would you be ready when He came to your region?
Third She was prepared by an accurate view of Christ
Verse 25 adds, “she came and fell at His feet.” She fell prostrate, flat down, right in front of Christ’s feet. In doing so she is displaying a heart of humility, reverence, submissiveness and anxiousness for her daughter. And by coming to Christ in this manner, she is in effect making a declaration of loyalty. She is turning away from her false pagan gods to the one true god–just like in 1 Thessalonians 1:9b, “How you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.”
She’s turning away from the chief goddess of Tyre named Astarte, the goddess of sexuality. Astarte was one of the Canaanite deities Israel got mixed up with, and Astarte worship sometimes involved sacred prostitution, like Tamar who disguised herself as an Astarte prostitute to seduce her father-in-law Judah. This woman before Jesus is turning from false idols to Christ.
And as significant as it is for her to lie prostrate before Christ, Matthew’s account of this event tells us what she actually said in Matthew 15:22, “And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’” Notice the three clues to the genuineness of her heart here.
She cries out for mercy–by definition, asking for mercy is asking for something not deserved and admitting you do deserve something far worse. She knows she deserves punishment and not the Lord’s help, but cries out for it.
She calls Christ Lord–this can be a term of respect, like Sir, but kurios is the Greek word for Lord or Master, meaning the one in charge with all authority over all, including demons.
She calls Christ the Son of David–further evidence this Gentile has been influenced by friendly Jews or Christ Himself. She knows of the coming Jewish Messiah, and she addresses Christ as this Messiah, who is literally in the line of David. This woman has heard of the Messiah’s great power, and also believes in His great compassion. This Gentile is more prepared to see Christ accurately as God than all the religious leaders Jesus just corrected.
Fourth She was prepared in spite of great disadvantages
Verse 26, “Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race.” Wow, do you see her disadvantages here in verse 26? She’s a woman in the New Testament world dominated by men. She is a Gentile, but the Greek word is a female Greek. She’s a Greek, in the sense she’s been Hellenized by the Greek culture and spoke the Greek language. She is a Syrophoenician, which means a Syrian from Phoenicia–a region steeped in paganism. And did you catch what Matthew calls her in Matthew 15:22? She is a Canaanite woman, informing us she’s one of those who survived–a descendant of the people God commanded Israel to exterminate under Joshua.
She’s a Syrian in religion, a Greek in tongue, a Phoenician by race, and also a Canaanite? By Jewish standards, this woman is dung–she’s unclean and despised. Yet in spite of all that disadvantage, she knows Christ can help her. She puts all her confident faith in Christ, as she falls flat on her face before Christ and pleads for her daughter.
Fifth She was prepared to persist in her request for compassion
Look at Verse 26b–Mark adds this insight. “And she kept asking Him.” She didn’t give up–the verb tense for asking makes it clear she would not give up. Yet the verb indicates she asked with respect. Matthew’s gospel says she had great faith in spite of obstacles. Nothing great ever happens without persistence.
Athletes must be persistent in practice. Scholars must be persistent in study. Salesmen must be persistent in cultivating contacts. Parents must be persistent in instruction and discipline. And Christians must be persistent in prayer requests, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” This woman would not give up–she continued to request even in the face of limitations, barriers and resistence. Why?
Sixth She was prepared with a trust in Christ’s ability
Verse 26b ends with, “to cast the demon out of her daughter.” She wants this cruel demon removed from her little girl–her daughter’s happiness, future, her very life, depends on it. She has biblical hope, which is confidence that Christ has more power and more authority than Satan or demons. Do you?
If you’ve been with us each week, you’d already know the Bible is very direct about demonism. Demons are fallen angels who rebelled with Satan against God. Some demons can possess unsaved people, controlling them, speaking through them, giving them great strength, all the while tormenting them, maiming them and causing them great suffering.
Demons cannot possess a Christian, since theologically all genuine believers are already indwelt with and sealed by the third person of the Trinity. We know biblically that a genuine Christian can’t be possessed, because there is not a single word of New Testament instruction on how to cast demons out of believers in the epistles at all. There are commands to stand firm and resist the devil. There is instruction about the Church wearing the armor of God, using the sword of the Word of God to battle, and great encouragement to trust in the power of the Gospel to transform and deliver lives. Believers can be worked over by demons in an oppressive way, but you cannot be possessed since you are already possessed by the Holy Spirit. He owns you–you were purchased by Christ.
But her little girl is not a believer yet, though it seems clear the mother is–and as an Old Testament believer, the Lord crashes down the barrier between Jew and Gentile and tests her faith.
#3 The TESTS of Christ to prove the faith of a Gentile Verse 27
Read verse 27, “And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’” This verse, verse 27–here is the last test of three in a series of painful tests given to this needy woman. The gospel of Matthew alone informs us of the first two tests. Like the barriers in an obstacle course, she must overcome–and she does. Her faith is genuine.
John MacArthur writes, “Great faith does not give up; it is not deterred by obstacles, setbacks, or disappointments. Jesus therefore tested the faith of this woman by setting up a series of barriers. Some people have to struggle against strong doubts before they come to fully trust Christ for salvation. Others have to struggle against the objections and arguments of friends and family. Still others struggle to believe because they have never heard the gospel clearly presented or because they see inconsistencies in the lives of Christians they know. This woman, however, had barriers placed in her way by the Savior Himself.” What were they?
TEST 1—Silence from God
Matthew 15:22b and 23, “’Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’ 23 But He did not answer her a word.” At first Jesus didn’t say a thing. You’ve experienced this–you pray and it seems like nothing happens. Friends, that’s the pause of love. It’s the delay of a loving parent who waits just a little longer while their child tries to swim. It’s the active waiting of a loving God to help His children grow stronger.
Can you imagine you treating someone with cold silence while they kneel before you pleading for help? Seems harsh. The Lord wasn’t unloving when He was asleep in the boat in the storm. He wasn’t unloving when He waited on the shore while His men rowed all night long. God was actively waiting to strengthen His men. The Lord is not indifferent–He was testing her faith.
TEST 2—Uncaring People and a Rebuff
Matthew 15:23b and 24, “And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, ‘Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.’ 24 But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’” The disciples misinterpret Christ’s silence–thinking He is annoyed, they try get rid of her. Her repeated pleas for help were annoying–she’s loud and obnoxious. Peter probably scowled. John got impatient, Philip thought she was rude—“Send her away.”
Then to make matters worse, the Lord almost seems to support His men with a rebuff—“I didn’t come to save Gentiles.” Verse 24, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” With those words, the Lord assures His disciples His plan of redemption was still directed toward Israel, His chosen peeps, first. But this seems harsh–so what does she do? Matthew 15:25, “But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’”
She will not give up–she knows Christ is her only hope.
TEST 3–An Apparent Dismissal
Matthew 15:26, “And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’” And now reread Mark 7:27, “And He was saying to her, ‘Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’” The children are the Jews and the dogs are the Gentiles. It is not right to give the food meant for the children to the dogs.
Like saving the box, but throwing away the one-carat diamond ring inside–or saving the wedding dress, while letting the bride drown. I believe the Lord was weary of shallow, external faith. Here was a woman with minimum contact with Christ, minimum contact with Jewish beliefs, yet she had great faith. So the Lord is determined to test her faith and prove that a Gentile woman from a pagan culture can get saved.
But doesn’t it seem cruel for Jesus to call her a dog? There are two different words for dogs used in the New Testament–one is the mangy mongrel that ran in packs and lived off of garbage. The other type of dog was the household pet that was treated as a part of the family. The puppy dog pet is the word used here. All dogs know how to gobble up food that’s dropped–whatever falls to the ground belongs to the hound. I am ashamed to tell you, my dog Cali goes to my chair to look for food after I eat sitting in my recliner—every time. Every time she does it, she makes me feel like a slob—“Stop that!”
This woman is so humble, she embraces Jesus calling the Jews His children, and the Gentiles pet dogs–why? The Lord is reiterating God’s heart and priority in ministry. Jesus’ first priority was to minister to God’s people Israel, to reveal Himself as their Messiah, and to offer them His kingdom. But He always extended Himself to open hearts, and never refused a person of any race or culture who came to Him in faith.
In the Old Testament, the Lord saved Moses’ father-in-law, possibly the queen of Sheba, even Hiram the King of Tyre during the reign of David. Being in this Gentile region of Tyre must have been refreshing to Christ, because the people were deep in darkness, but many were anxiously looking for light.
And that is true for each of you today. Christ receives those who approach Him in true faith and humility. Those who come with empty but open hearts will leave with filled hearts. Those who came with a closed heart will leave with nothing. Jesus declared in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” And He promised in John 6:37, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”
The Gospel came through the Jews, and is first given to the Jews, but it was never intended only for them. The Gospel is Romans 1:16, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 was to “make disciples of all the nations”, beginning with Jerusalem, but reaching Acts 1:8, “even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Israel was to be the channel through which the Gospel would be carried to the entire world. Now the Church together and Christians individually are to carry that message to the world. Yet instead of reaching out to a lost world with the knowledge which leads to faith, Israel as a people isolated themselves and hated everyone who was a non-Jew. This was not God’s plan. From the very beginning when God called Abraham in Genesis 12, the Lord said to Abram at the end of verse 3, “’And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’”
Even the psalmist prays that Israel will be blest (why?)–in order to share salvation with the nations of the world. Psalm 67:1, “God be gracious to us and bless us.” Why? Verse 2, “That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations.” God intended for the Gentiles to receive the good news of salvation. God wanted the Gentiles to be forgiven and saved. God intended the dogs to get some of the children’s food. So how does the woman respond to the final test?
#4 The GREAT faith of a Gentile expressed in Christ Verse 28
Do not make the big mistake of thinking it was her persistence that earned deliverance for her daughter—not true. Her persistence was only a demonstration of her faith. The Lord wanted us to see the works which resulted from her faith, and right now you must be rocked by her response.
If you don’t leave here impressed–if her statement doesn’t stick with you, something’s wrong with you. This is the heart of a believer, the heart of the humble. This is the faith of one who knows she deserves nothing. Verse 28, “But she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.’”
Are you hearing this? She knows it would be wrong to steal the food from the children and give it to the dogs instead. She knows she can’t expect to be treated like one of the children. She accepts that as a Gentile she’s considered a dog. She knows she has nothing, nor can do anything to merit Christ’s help. She realizes Christ had a mission priority and she accepts it. She doesn’t deny the special place the children, the Jews, have in God’s plan–nor does she want to usurp it. She just wants a few crumbs from the table for her daughter, the Gentile puppy.
She does not argue with God’s will–Your will be done, Lord. She again calls Jesus Lord, affirming His authority. She affirms Jesus as the Master who has the power to decide. She accepts her humble position. She says, “I embrace the truth that dogs cannot expect to be treated like the children of the house.”
Jesus utters one word which has given her hope. The word is found back one verse in verse 27–did you see it? “Let the children be satisfied FIRST.” She hears Jesus utter that word–she knows there’s a ray of hope. Once the kids eat first, then can my little girl, my little puppy, eat the leftovers they drop? Once the children have had their fill first, then can the little dogs eat the little crumbs dropped by the little children?
She is so humble, she knows she’s nothing. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of her. It doesn’t matter that she is considered a dog compared to a Jew. When you’re nothing, it doesn’t matter what people say about you, or how they treat you–you’re nothing. All that matters is God’s will. Call me a dog, a Gentile, unworthy, with no hope—no problem. I still put all my hope, all my faith, and all my dependence on Jesus.
God does this–God tests your faith. Will you depend upon Him when spiritual leaders are indifferent, parents unfair, friends betray you? How humble are you? Are you nothing? Then it shouldn’t matter what others have done to you? All that matters is God is glorified. This woman is unfazed by silence, rebuff, uncaring leaders, even by dismissal from the very person she seeks help from, because she’s humble, dependent, confident in Christ’s ability and authority, and deadly serious about getting the Lord’s help for her child.
Faith is a gift from God, and Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:28, “Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’” And her daughter was healed at once. God affirmed her unwavering confidence to depend upon Christ.
Hey, with your impossible situation, are you putting your confidence in Christ or yourself? Are you living by faith or fear? Are you trusting Christ with great things? For this woman received . . .
#5 The BLESSINGS given by Christ to His own child Verses 29 and 30
Verse 29, “And He said to her, ‘Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’” After all those tests, the Lord blesses this woman with the deliverance of her child. Her faith was a gift from God–and like genuine faith, she took Jesus at His Word. He commands her to go and she goes. She believes her daughter is delivered from the demon.
I wonder if she walked or ran home? Can you see the tears of joy in her eyes in anticipation of what she is about to see? Can you imagine this homecoming? Verse 30, “And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.”
On the heels of hateful Jewish religious leaders while still struggling with ignorant sometimes clueless disciples, here is a woman who understood who Christ is. How does Mark know what happened? That the demon is gone? Possibly some of the disciples went with her to see and confirm. Possibly the women later brought her child to Christ and His men.
But it came to pass exactly as Jesus said. Instead of being continually tormented by this demon, writhing, screaming, foaming, yelling, having seizures, and harming herself, she is now calmly laying on her bed–the demon is gone. Mark uses a tense for the verb “having left”—“the demon having left”, to let us know the demon has permanently left the little girl never to return. Wow!
Deliverance from demons from a distance–Christ does not even need to be present to command authority over the angelic realm. How blessed was this woman? I believe this pagan, Gentile, Syrophoenician woman was saved. And her demon possessed daughter was delivered. Friends . . .
ONE Never minimize the power of UNWORTHINESS
This woman knew she was nothing, had nothing and deserved nothing, which put her in the right place to depend solely on Christ–to trust in Him and not in herself in any way. Galatians 6:3, “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” And 2 Corinthians 12:10, “…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
TWO Never miss the focus of FAITH
Her faith was great, but it was not faith in faith, nor something she worked up inside of herself. Faith must always have an object. And her faith was in Christ. She wasn’t trusting in the amazing power of her great faith, she was trusting in the amazing authority and ability of Christ. She knew enough of Him to trust Him alone.
THREE Never resist the blessing of OBSTACLES
God tested this woman with silence, opposition, some ridicule, even the reality of her Gentile situation. But these were but tests to strengthen her heart and test her confidence in Christ. You may be going through a deep trial and painful test–some family, health, financial, relational, or spiritual test. Trust Him, no matter what, and watch what He does for His glory and your good.
FOUR Never minimize the power of SALVATION
The Gospel can break any barrier, forgive any sin, bestow great faith, grant genuine repentance and give you a new birth. If you’re tired of trying to earn your salvation, if you’re weary of your religion, if you’re sick of your secret sinfulness–then cry out to Christ. Believe He is God in the flesh who took the punishment for your sin on the cross, rose from the dead and lives today to forgive you now and give you eternal life forever. Ask Him to do for you that which you can never do for yourself—to save you. Let’s pray.