Mark 7:24-30 NLTse Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. (25) Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, (26) and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, (27) Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children–my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” (28) She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.” (29) “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” (30) And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
Jesus entered the economic capital of the world, Tyre to find some rest. It seems strange Jesus would try to keep His presence a secret when He traveled to Tyre. There is only one other location He tried to conceal His identity, Jerusalem when He traveled there during one Passover. Why would Jesus conceal His identity in the financial and religious capitals of the world? These are locations we would think required the maximum amount of work. At the end of His ministry Jesus preached extensively in Jerusalem, but we see little evidence Jesus worked in Tyre at a later date, although Mark tells us Jesus visited Tyre earlier in His ministry.
Of all the residents in Tyre, high ranking military officials, captains of industry, merchants, bankers, financial wizards, and other powerful and influential people, who comes to Jesus? A Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia. How did she hear about Jesus? What did she know about Him? She must have listened to people who heard Him speak, saw Him heal and cast out demons. We know the woman came to Jesus to save her daughter. A noble task performed by so many women, sacrifices which go unnoticed. No wonder the Spirit arranged this scene in the middle of the economic capital of the world. A strange woman who hardly goes unnoticed because she is different from everyone. Her dress is simple, showing her lack of wealth. People see her, know she existed, but they have no interest in the burdens she carries. After all, in the eyes of the world, she is only a mother, and much less in the shadow of the financial world.
What about today? Has anything changed? A lot of people boast they know a woman represents a church in the Bible. But do they know how to show a single text supporting what they think they know? Can they? Do they care enough to try? What about a woman representing humanity, the cares, burdens, and sacrifices a mother makes everyday? Do people have compassion on single mothers struggling to make ends meet? Searching for ways to juggle limited funds. Finding ways of stretching a weeks worth of food to feed her family for a month? Going hungry so her kids can eat? Having nothing to celebrate birthdays except for what she can make with her hands. Does the world care how much embarrassment and grief they add to her daily life and her family? Can the world associate with the hunger pains in her stomach, worry lines on her face, or pain in her heart? Today the world considers compassion a role for the government. Its missing from many churches today to the same extent as Jesus’ day. Look at Jesus’ disciples. When the woman announced her problem did any of them step forward to offer a hug, any form of comfort? His disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.” (Matthew 15:23 NLTse).
Many in this world fall to temptations beyond belief and comprehension. While the world looks on single mothers and others suffer at the hands of the elite. Banks and credit companies jump at the chance to take advantage of those in need, charging penalties, late fees, higher interest rates for any reason their distorted minds can invent. They make it impossible for anyone to climb out of a financial hole. No matter how small it may be, financial institutions like those found in Tyre, dig the hole as large as they can make it, using every means at their disposal while all the time inventing more. When she finally reaches a breaking point, she sells her wedding ring, a remember of better days and hope for a future. Her future now is making it through another week. Crafty merchants feel nothing for her, offering her a small percentage of the profit they plan to make. She has no choice but to feed her children and try to pay a few bills. She hesitates, then hands over her last hope to a hand shaking with guilt. The Spirit is trying to help her — trying to convict the merchant. The Spirit reaches the conscience for a moment with a single seed sown among thorns. The last ray of hope is quenched from the heart. Profit will try to ease the pain of a guilty conscience.
If nothing else this woman represents the outcasts of society. The very class Jesus calls because no one else is listening. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:9-10 NLTse). The world is caught up in the splendor and promises of riches and wealth. Jesus took His disciples into Tyre as a test to see if the lure of money, just the thought of wealth and power would dull their senses, pulling them away from the Spirit, back into the world. Did the disciples forget all the lessons Jesus was teaching since He promised to give them the ability to understand all parables? Did they forget how He calmed the storm with His word, cast hundreds of demons out of a man, cured a woman from an issue of blood, raised a little girl to life, fed 5000, and walked on water to save them? It is amazing how a little tinsel and glitter from the world can make people forget so much. A few hardships in the wilderness made Israel forget about their lives as slaves in Egypt. How many times did they want to give up and go back to slavery? The disciples were being tested from a different angle. A few moments surrounded by luxury and affluence turned their heads and hearts. The mere thought of worldly prosperity engulfed every thought, making them spiritually blind and deaf. They forgot the Teachers power He received from Heaven. It was time for another lesson, a new reminder.
Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children–my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” The disciples suddenly remembered, Jesus always spoke in parables to teach them. Their minds went back to the parable of the farmer sowing seeds. They also noticed He paused. They knew this was a signal for them to pray. Their connection with the Spirit was being reestablished. The woman replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.” Was Jesus comparing this woman to a dog? For a moment they thought that was the key. For a moment they thought this was how Jews viewed the woman because she was a foreigner. During Jesus’ long pause they began to realize the lessons Jesus was teaching were showing them how they needed to separate their thoughts from the world and its misconceptions about others, anyone different. They noticed Jesus never turned anyone away. Not the demon possessed man, the unclean woman with the issue of blood, the ruler of the synagogue, not even a leper. “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
The disciples learned one of the most valuable lessons that day. Never let the promises of the world pull you away from your mission. They knew they failed the test. They also knew Jesus was not going to give up on them.