Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Training Tour

“He got up and departed from there to the region of Tyre and Sidon.” (Mark 7:24 CSB)

After taking on the scribes and Pharisees about their traditions, Jesus led His disciples on a training tour. They set out from the Plain of Gennesaret and traveled some distance northwest to the cities of Tyre and Sidon. This began the great Northern Training Tour, a time when Jesus wanted to concentrate on teaching His disciples. This story of a Gentile mother’s faith is a great one.

We first see a surprising scenario – a trip to the beach! Tyre and Sidon were seacoast cities. There was much material wealth there, but also much spiritual bankruptcy. It is also surprising to note the manner in which Jesus and His disciples went there. Jesus was rather stealthy in His approach. “He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it.” (verse 24) Also surprisingly, one of the first folks to find Him and seek out His help was a Gentile woman, and the biggest surprise of all in this scenario was her faith.

Next we see a determined desperation. This woman’s daughter was sick, but not with a physical illness. She was demon-possessed. We typically shy away from such concepts today, but Jesus did not. The unnamed woman was desperate to get help for her daughter, and she apparently had heard that Jesus could help. She went to Him in desperation, but what is remarkable is her determination. She wasn’t leaving until her daughter was healed.

Then we see a compassionate challenge. Many read the words of Jesus and conclude that He was being rather brutal toward this woman. He said, “Allow the children to be satisfied first, because it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (verse 27) Some think Jesus was calling the woman a dog. Actually, it was just an example. People want to be sure their children get food before giving it to their pet. I believe Jesus said this for the benefit of the disciples, so they would then hear her response. “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Jesus indeed challenged her, but He did so with compassion, knowing what He was going to do.

Then finally we see a perfect peace. The woman followed Jesus’ instructions and went home to find her daughter lying on the bed and completely healed. The demon was gone. There was a perfect peace.
The lesson: God responds to determined faith.

Lord, Help us to seek You constantly with a determined faith, because of who You are. Amen.

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