A Hard Kind of Faith

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Mark 7:24-38

I still don’t believe Jesus denied the woman at first for her own sake, but to teach those around Him a lesson. (To read more about that lesson, click here.) Yet, by saying this, Jesus gave the woman a perfect opportunity to show her faith. And, as we have learned in previous chapters of Mark, faith is necessary for healing. This woman showed not only great faith in Jesus’s ability to cast out the demon, but faith that He would treat her with mercy even though she wasn’t a Jew. We must have faith not only in God’s ability to take care of us, but also that He loves us enough to do so. Too often you hear a disillusioned person say something like, “I believe in God, but I don’t think He cares about me any more because of this or that thing I did.” That is not how God’s love works, as Jesus clearly demonstrates to this poor Gentile woman, and we need to have a stronger faith in Him than that.

The Messianic Secret comes back in full force in the story of the deaf man. But here it seems to be used as a sort of reverse psychology. The more Jesus tells them to be quiet the louder they proclaim His miracles. Surely Jesus would have expected them to act that way, right? That’s one of the reasons it always seemed so purposeful to me. But maybe that’s just the 90s speaking through me. Still, if the Messianic Secret plays any other purpose in this story, I sure can’t see it.

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