BRIEF INTRO: Upon leaving Gennesaret Jesus went into the region of Tyre (7:24), and had an amazing interaction with a gentile woman, a Syrophenician. Mark 5:1-20 records the first encounter that Jesus had with a gentile (non-Jewish person). Both of these interactions were very significant because they revealed that God’s kingdom was/is NOT only for Jews!
Tyre is a Phoenician port on the Mediterranean Sea, it sits northwest of Galilee. I learned in my studies for this post that “a Syrophoenician” is a phrase that Roman authors used to distinguish the Phoenicians of Syria from those of North Africa.
As we enter into this text we find Jesus, in the region of Tyre, entering into a house privately because he did not want anyone to know that He was there. Jesus needed rest like we do. He needed some “alone time” to talk with His Father. Perhaps He wanted time alone with the residents for some reason we are not privy to. Whatever the reason for the intended privacy we can be sure that it was sought after for Good and godly reasons, not deceptive or mischievous. Anyway, it didn’t work “He could not escape notice” (v. 24).
25 But after hearing about Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a [a]Gentile, of Syrophoenician descent. And she repeatedly asked 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 [b]good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the [c]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 [d]answer, go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And after going back to her home, she found the child [e]lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
FOCUS ONE: The miracle of casting out a demon
In this focus point we get to observe the first of two healings that Jesus performs in two separate regions; both for gentiles! The first is in the region of Tyre with a gentile woman, a Syrophoenician. She kept asking Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter. Verse 30 calls her a child, so we can assume that she was a pretty young girl.
In this particular account between Jesus and the woman we notice the language being used (children, dogs, and bread). Mark tells us that the woman “kept asking Jesus to cast this demon out of her daughter.” She was persistent, and we can say she was exhibiting faith in Jesus to do it! BUT take notice to the dialogue that ensues between them. Jesus tells her that the “children” should be satisfied with the bread first. The woman boldly replies that dogs do get to eat the crumbs that fall under the table.
“1Her point was that the dogs get some food at the same time as the children and thus do not have to wait. There need be no interruption in His instructing the disciples for all she humbly requested was a crumb, a small benefit of His grace for her desperate need.”
So what is at play here? Jesus is making the point that Israel was chosen above all others to benefit from God’s righteous rule. That puts them before people from the rest of the world. He is also signifying that His mission is first to the Jewish people, although we do see the inclusion of non-Jewish people as His ministry unfolds (these two healings are one example of that).
So what happens? Her persistence and faith affect Jesus! He tells her, “because of your answer go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter” (v. 29). That is very cool! Her answer demonstrated her humility and faith. Jesus does not go with her to speak to OR even touch her daughter. He simply tells her its done! She returns to her home and finds her healed, just as Jesus said.
31 Again He left the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 And they *brought to Him one who was deaf and had difficulty speaking, and they *begged Him to lay His hand on him. 33 And Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers in his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He *said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the [a]impediment of his tongue was [b]removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 And they were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even those who are deaf hear, and those who are unable to talk, speak.”
FOCUS TWO: The miracle of healing the deaf and dumb man
Jesus came through Sidon within the region of Decapolis. Sidon is a Phoenician port on the Mediterranean Sea, about twenty miles north of Tyre. So some travel was involved. We often think as we read through our bibles that these things happened quicker than they did and that these geographical places were much closer than they were. This is a good reminder for us that that is often not the case.
Jesus is brought a deaf man who spoke with difficulty. They, whoever they are, (family, friends) entreat Jesus to “lay His hand upon Him” (v. 31). So, Jesus takes the man aside but rather than lay hands on him, He does something very peculiar, He puts His fingers into the mans ears, spits, and touches the mans tongues with the saliva! Mark is the only one of the gospel writers who records this miracle.
Unlike other healings, Jesus uses what can only be called “sign language” and “symbolic acts” to accomplish this miracle. It is interesting, the difference I mean, in how Jesus heals people. Mark does not give any explanation why Jesus did so, so we must be very careful NOT to add to scripture any of our own ideas!
“1By touching the ears and the tongue, spitting on the ground, and looking up to heaven (to God the Father), Jesus conveyed what He was going to do.” Remember, this man was deaf and mute, so it reasonable to conclude that this was what, perhaps in part, Jesus’ purpose was in acting this way.
Jesus, looking up to heaven, with a deep sigh (possibly reflecting compassion for the man) said, “Ephphatha,” which means be opened! Immediately the man is healed of both of his issues.
Unlike the last healing of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, Jesus here gave orders NOT to tell anyone. Yet again, we witness in this account the peoples disobedience to His command. The more He ordered them (commanded) to keep quiet, the more they “continued to proclaim it” (v. 36).
It would make sense that He wanted to minister within the region and not be looked at as only a “miracle-worker.” Sure, He, being God in the flesh, can heal anyone of anything. BUT, that is not the main reason He came: “for the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). The people were “utterly astonished” at what Jesus had just done. The crowds confession, if you will, reveals their understanding of Jesus based on previous reports brought to them and now by what He has just accomplished in their sight!
FOCUS THREE: Contrasts and similarities
- One a little girl, one a man.
- One could speak, one could not.
- One persisted and exercised faith, the other brought to Jesus and seemingly did nothing.
- One came for someone else, the other was brought by someone else.
- Two different places.
- The people in the region of Decapolis told NOT to tell anyone, not so with the woman.
- Both carried a burden and had a need
- Both expressed humility
- Both came into the presence of Jesus
- Both were healed
- Both received mercy
- Christ was magnified
By looking at the contrasts and similarities in this account, we should be encouraged.
- The facts that gender is NOT an issue with the Lord
- Age is NOT an issue with the Lord
- Our location is NOT an issue for the Lord
- Our background or “backstory “ is no issue with the Lord
- Humility and faith ARE precious in His sight!
Dear reader, if you come to Jesus in humility and faith He WILL hear you; He will forgive you, and He will perform the greatest miracle ever for you-the salvation of your soul!
1 The Bible knowledge commentary, pg. 135