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Approaching God Mark 7:24-36 Danny W.

Davis Text Mark 7:24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. 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 childrens bread and toss it to the dogs. 28 Lord, she replied, even the dogs under the table eat the childrens 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. Introduction Over the last several weeks we have been considering the necessity of prayer. We have looked at how prayer brings about change and helps us grow closer to God. But one thing we have not talked about is how should we approach God? I do not mean a physical position. No, I speak of what our attitude should or should not be when come to God with our petitions. Tonight I want to look at how one woman approach Jesus someone who should never have done it. I think we can see in her story how we can approach God when we have needs. The Syro- Phoenician Woman (Mark 7:24-30) CONTEXT: Let me take just a brief moment to give you a little context surrounding this part of Mark. Jesus has been in conflict with the religious leaders of the day over obedience to the traditions. Specifically, they were at odds over the idea of what is clean or unclean. Jesus was confronting them over the way they had taken the commands of God and fashioned them into a system that actually led the people away from God. In other words, they wanted to preserve tradition but tradition became the god they served. It is in the middle of this conflict over what makes someone clean or unclean (defiled) that Mark records the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman. As we look at this story keep in your mind the idea of clean and unclean. Submitted but Bold Servant (vv. 24-27)

Mark tells us Jesus had come to a place called Tyre. It appears that Jesus was actually trying to get some rest. He entered the city in secret and went into someones house. But the word that Jesus was in town spread pretty quickly. A woman who was Greek and from Syrian Phoenicia heard Jesus was in town. The woman had a daughter who was possessed of a devil but she desired for her daughter to be delivered. Now here is where the context I told you about comes into play. The woman comes to the place where Jesus is and begs Him to deliver His daughter. Here is the problem She was from Syrophoenicia the same place Jezebel is from. So you have an unclean (Gentile) woman who is from an unclean city who has a daughter with an unclean spirit. Do you see the problem?

Jesus is already in hot water (I suppose) with the religious leaders because He is not upholding the traditions. And now this lady approaches Him, comes into His presence even into the place where He was eating (defilement by her Gentile-ness). Jesus is a Jew. He is not to eat or be in the presence of Gentiles. He could possibly be contaminated by being in her presence God forbid she might reach out and touch Him. But she does not approach Jesus with timidity but with boldness. But it is not an arrogant boldness. No, she is a mother who is concerned for her child. She is a woman who is willing to move beyond the cultural norm or the socially acceptable to make her request known to Jesus. Some writers and scholars speak of her attitude being one of a submitted servant. However, her desperation for her daughters healing overrode anything she may have known about the great wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. Submitted but Persistent Servant Because her attitude seems to be one of submission makes the answer Jesus gives her a little unusual. Jesus says, First let the children eat all they want, he told her, for it is not right to take the childrens bread and toss it to the dogs.

Now the book of Matthew gives us some insight into Jesuss words that Mark does not (different audience). Matthew 15:24 tells us that Jesus is thinking about the priority of His mission to the Jews first. This does not imply that Gentiles were never to receive the gospel. It only refers to the limited scope of Christs early mission to go to the lost house of Israel. Matthew 28:19 makes it clear that Christs mission expands through the church to the whole world. At any rate, some have accused Jesus of being racist by calling her a dog. Jesus does use this term in reference to her race but not in a condescending or racist way. Jews often referred to Gentiles as dogs but typically they were referring to the scavenger dogs that lived int eh city dumps (derogatory.) Jesus, however, does not use the word that refers to those dogs. Instead, he uses a term that speaks of a house dog or a pet. On top of this Jesuss attitude toward this lady doesnt connote racism. Rather He is reaching out to her in compassion. Nonetheless, Jesus is being clear that His mission, at this point, was to the Jews. But this does not stop the desperate mother. Lord, she replied, even the dogs under the table eat the childrens crumbs. There is in her words an attitude of persistence. She is not persisting out of stubbornness or ignorance. Instead, she is persisting that Jesus do something because she is well aware of Gods mercy. She did not approach Jesus on the basis of RIGHTS. As far as she was concerned she was in a territory where her race and ethnicity afforded her no rights whatsoever. Her persistent pleading is based on a promise that was yet to be fulfilled. What is hilarious about this story is that this unclean woman from an unclean country with an unclean daughter knew more about Gods covenant than all the religious leaders. She knew the Jews were to be a light for the Gentiles (Is 49:6; Lk. 2:32; Acts 13:47; 26:23). Isaiah declares, It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)

The content of her response to Jesus was one of FAITH. This woman basically said to Jesus, Hey, I know that your priority is the children of Israel. But I am appealing to you on the promise that you will also be a light to my people too. One day I will have an opportunity to be a child of God just like the Jews so think about that promise and help me! Jesus did help her. He told her, For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter. Application I think we can learn much from this lady. First, I think we can learn that in times of desperation (and any other time as well) we know who to take our needs too. Though she was not supposed to be in the presence of a Jew, she went anyway. Somehow she knew, whether by intuition or testimony, that this one called Christ is able to deliver. When we approach God we do so with this thought, You are God! You have the words of life! We bring with us all the experiences we have had with God and we use them as faith builders to trust in His sovereignty and power. When we trust Him to do what is right we are putting ourselves into a place of submission to will and leading. Second, we learn that what other people think or whatever box we may have been put into because of our birth means nothing in the light of grace. When we approach God as a son or daughter of promise we need not fear. We need only to accept that our Father desires to hear what we have to say. Third, because we are His children we can rest in the confidence that we can talk to Him about things more than once. Its OK to faithfully bring a request to God. Sometimes as we do that we gain more clarity and insight into how He wants to answer. There are times God does not answer because He needs us to continue to sort through the situation a piece at a time. So, when you pray come to your Father with a humble boldness confidence that you are His and He has the best plan for your life.