14 Sep

He has done everything well

written by Pastor No Comments posted in Blog

September 9, 2012

He has done everything well.

Tom Willetts

Mark 7:24-37

Jesus Honors a Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.[a] He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.[b] 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Footnotes:

Mark 7:24 Many early manuscripts Tyre and Sidon

Mark 7:31 That is, the Ten Cities

 

            “He has done everything well,” Cross references:

  1. Mark 7:24 : 7:24-30pp — Mt 15:21-28
  2. Mark 7:24 : S Mt 11:21
  3. Mark 7:25 : S Mt 4:24
  4. Mark 7:31 : 7:31-37pp — Mt 15:29-31
  5. Mark 7:31 : ver 24; S Mt 11:21
  6. Mark 7:31 : S Mt 4:18
  7. Mark 7:31 : Mt 4:25; Mk 5:20
  8. Mark 7:32 : Mt 9:32; Lk 11:14
  9. Mark 7:32 : S Mk 5:23
  10. Mark 7:33 : Mk 8:23
  11. Mark 7:34 : Mk 6:41; Jn 11:41
  12. Mark 7:34 : Mk 8:12
  13. Mark 7:35 : Isa 35:5, 6
  14. Mark 7:36 : S Mt 8:4

Listening to all the reporting and rhetoric of the political campaigns this phrase, “He has done everything well,” Cross references:

  1. Mark 7:24 : 7:24-30pp — Mt 15:21-28
  2. Mark 7:24 : S Mt 11:21
  3. Mark 7:25 : S Mt 4:24
  4. Mark 7:31 : 7:31-37pp — Mt 15:29-31
  5. Mark 7:31 : ver 24; S Mt 11:21
  6. Mark 7:31 : S Mt 4:18
  7. Mark 7:31 : Mt 4:25; Mk 5:20
  8. Mark 7:32 : Mt 9:32; Lk 11:14
  9. Mark 7:32 : S Mk 5:23
  10. Mark 7:33 : Mk 8:23
  11. Mark 7:34 : Mk 6:41; Jn 11:41
  12. Mark 7:34 : Mk 8:12
  13. Mark 7:35 : Isa 35:5, 6
  14. Mark 7:36 : S Mt 8:4

is coveted by all the candidates. Whether it is a national speech, a TV appearance, an editorial board endorsement or a fact check news article all candidates want to hear these words of support and affirmation. I think we all want to hear them in our lives as well.  Those who are helping the children improve their reading at Littleton Elementary know that the children all crave the affirmation – “You’ve read well,” or “Good job.” So what did Jesus do that deserved such an accolade.

He is confronted by a Greek, Syrophoenician woman while taking a vacation in the vicinity of Tyre (well north of Israel – deep in Gentile country) with a persistent demand to drive the demon out of her daughter. The woman is most aware of her need – her dilemma and that of her daughter suffering in the possession of the demon. Her need opens her to express a faith she hasn’t been raised in or possibly practiced or would even accept her as a participant. She is definitely not RIGHTEOUS.

This is reflected in Jesus’ initial  response to her request; (this is the party line response,) 27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  WHY? I believe Jesus is offering the party line – the acceptable – the proper – the ordinary – the regular – the righteous – OUR response.  He is saying what we would say to such a request, by such a woman – woman by all Jewish standards of the day as totally UNRIGHTEOUS. This actually echoes last week’s scripture lesson between the Pharisees and the disciples about dirty hands and righteousness. That was set inside Israel – now Jesus goes to Gentile country and we see the same issue in a new context.

The purpose of this is to engage us – do we remember last week’s scripture and remember the source of true righteousness – or do we still hold to our fabricated righteousness standards and accept Jesus’ insulting word’s.

The second purpose is to give the woman the opportunity to fully express her faith in Jesus in this Gentile land. Is her request genuine or contrived or deceptive in some way? Her response proves that it is genuine. She loves her daughter deeply – she will fight for her recovery and healing and her faith and confidence in Jesus as a Holy healer is substantiated. Notice, she is not rude or disrespectful, but rather is aware, humble and honest – 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Jesus’ response is to grant the healing in absentia, and he tells her to simply go home and be assured of the healing of her daughter. She doesn’t protest this – her faith has been professed and no fact checker comes by to check on the accuracy of Jesus’ claim – simply faith completes the encounter. Is this sufficient to proclaim, “He has done everything well.”  You be the judges?

Let’s look at the second story. Jesus moves on to the region of the Decapolis – a close cluster of ten cities south of Tyre and Sidon, closer to the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps he still hopes for a vacation. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. (So much for a vacation). 33 After he (Jesus) took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

Is anyone else having a hygiene moment right now? (Fingers in ears – spitting and touching the man’s tongue.) Surely the people aren’t praising Jesus’ hygiene habits or healing style. While every miracle of healing is amazing, no matter the method or style and worthy of great awe, does healing a girl miles away in absentia and then healing the deaf and mute man in private really warrant such attention and public acclaim as “37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said.” Jesus kept telling them to hush – “36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” What is going on here?

We often miss the point – the intent – of Jesus’ miraculous work in our lives? Someone is suffering with some problem or affliction and we want it fixed. We want the suffering to end. We don’t want to experience the problem any longer. Make it go away. When God – Jesus miraculously acts – generally all we perceive is the immediate action – sick – now healed, deaf – now hearing, mute – now speaking. Problem solved.

But all miracles point to only one reality – the mercy and love of God is beyond our control or understanding. Jesus is not just a “fixer” – he is ultimately our Lord and Savior. The populist response to these miracles actually diminishes Jesus’ future acts and ultimate mission. Jesus didn’t come to just fix our aches and pains – he came to save us from eternal loss and death because of our sins. Many people miss this. You can see it plainly as the people demand of Jesus to save himself from the suffering and pain of the crucifixion on the cross – fix yourself Jesus – then we will believe – populist opinion – not God’s full expression of mercy and love for all humanity for all of time. So what do we do?

We have faith. Just as the Syrophoenician Woman fought through the prejudices and false righteousness around her with a steadfast faith seeking for the healing of her daughter, we remain steadfast, confident and faithful in the midst of conflict and persecution. And as the deaf and mute man simply received the gift of healing, in private – with humble participation – we simply and obediently receive the gifts of God’s grace into our lives. We keep our attention focused on Jesus and in so doing we realize far more than just the popular accolades – we experience the full mercy and love of our Lord and Savior. Receiving the full measure of God’s blessing into our lives is the gift Jesus – the healing – the miraculous work Jesus desires each of us to receive. Don’t settle for the first things you hear – there is far more available in Christ Jesus. He has done everything well.

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.

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