May 8, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.”
Psalm 55: 22
“If through simple faith in God’s promise, we cast each burden as is comes upon Him, and are ‘careful for nothing,’ because He undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to Him, and strengthen us against temptation, ‘Thou wilt keep (her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because (she) trusts in Thee.’”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“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.”
Mark 7: 24-30
“Behold The Man” – Part 18
“Life In a Fractured Community” Part A
“”Human beings suffer from a deep insecurity that pushes us to create rules that give status and value to some while denigrating others.”
Amy C. Howe
Have I ever felt that because of some perceived physical or emotional defect in my life, that those around me looked down on me as a “lesser” person?
How do I believe God looks at me and values me?
“Jesus was irresistible in His presence,
His face, His eyes, His voice and His touch.
It could not be otherwise.
He was God on a wooing errand after (us).”
S. D. Gordon
Quiet Talks About Jesus
“When it comes to racial and cultural and ideological boundaries, Jesus just doesn’t get it. And His perspective is what matters. No dividing lines we draw can be significant after Christ shed His priceless blood for every human being on the planet.”
Secrets of Jesus Touch
Today, the story which helps us more clearly, “Behold The Man” Jesus Christ, is an incident which took place as Jesus was coming into the region of Tyre and Sidon.
The individual we meet is a mother with a big voice. Thank God for mothers with loud voices who cry out to Jesus on behalf of their precious children. In this particular case, the mother was a Gentile. A Greek who was by birth a Syrophoenician. Her religion – a Canaanite. To the Jews she was a pagan, completely outside their select status. What mattered most to this dear mother was her darling little girl who Mark tells us was demon possessed. Just think what it would have been like had you been this mother. Amy C. Howe paints such a detailed picture of this mother in her commentary on Mark 7: 24-37. As she explains, The Syrophoenician woman had everything going against her when she pushed her way into Jesus’ presence. She was a woman and a Gentile from the wrong side of the tracks. She had no right to engage Jesus in conversation. Imagine a homeless person interrupting the dinner of the president of the United States to ask a favor. Despite the dictates of custom, this woman (did) approach Jesus.”
I can’t begin to tell you what this lady’s courage and faith mean to me. Just think of how much she loved her child. Her decision to make a “laughing stock” of herself didn’t bother her at all, especially as what she chose to do would bring healing to her little girl.
After looking at the way Jesus had helped one outcast after another, His response to this mom seemed not only abrasive but downrightly cruel. Mark states that Jesus responded 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.” Whoa! How would you have felt if Jesus had responded to you in this abrupt fashion? Well, rather than turning her back on Jesus and walking away in a foul mood, the mother pressed forward, “Yes, you are right Jesus, but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” In other words, what this mother laid out for Jesus was the fact that she might not have been from the selected Jewish bloodline but even if she wasn’t “chosen,” she would graciously accept the crumbs, those little scratchings that got swept off the table. I want to continue with how Amy C. Howe writes about Jesus’ response and the mother’s reaction to His words, “Many who suffered those words might have crept away feeling small and insignificant, but not the Syrophoenician woman. She boldly responds.”
As I’ve studied this experience in Jesus’ life, I couldn’t help but repeatedly have the words of Jesus Himself go through my mind, “And I, if and when I am lifted up from the earth on the cross, will draw and attract all, (Gentiles as well as Jews) to Myself” (John 12: 32, Amplified Bible). As Amy Howe states, “(Jesus’) mission was not restricted to the Jews. God’s love expands beyond all barriers.” And then she continues by describing the result of the mother’s undaunted entrance into Jesus’ world, “Rather than scolding her for her brashness, Jesus tells her, ‘For saying that, you may go – the demon has left your daughter.’”
As we consider the longing of this mother, who lived her life in what I call a “fractured community,” having Jesus enter her world and meet the need in her life made me wonder if down through time, Christ’s followers, those who call themselves by Jesus’ name, Christians, have learned anything about opening our arms wide and embracing our world like Jesus did His. As Amy Howe points out, “In the first-century, the poor, the infirm, the orphaned, the mentally ill, the alien, and many women lived with very low status…Here in the twenty-first century, many of these people still live at the margins of society. We are no more inclined to forgiveness, preferring long prison terms and harsh religious judgments for those who stray from our secular laws or religious morals. There continues to be a sense that if people end up homeless or on drugs, they are weak and at fault. Our world teaches us to shun the dirty, smelly woman ranting on the bus next to us and not embrace her. Countless children spend empty, abused lives shuttled from one foster home to the next, forgotten and unloved by the world.”
In the story of the Syrophoenician woman, an outsider by all accounts, an annoyance at best to Jesus’ disciples, as New Testament scholar Mitzi Minor points out, Jesus’ actions portray for us the fact that a “worthless, Gentile girl whose mind was devoured by a demon” was a child of God. She was just as precious to our heavenly Father as she was to her dear mother who would stop at nothing to get to Jesus. As Mitzi Minor continues, “There are no external barriers between God and any human being: not race, class, ethnicity, gender, age or physical condition. Consequently, there should also be no such barriers between human beings.”
Whenever I find my heart closing to those around me because of some preconceived notion that I hold or a prejudice that excludes someone because I have not let Christ’s love infuse my entire being as it should, I go to the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3: 28, “There is now no distinction neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We as Christians should have our daily prayer be, “Dear Lord, help me to be filled with Jesus’ compassion for the preciousness of every soul for which He died.”
The Scottish author and Christian pastor George MacDonald in the 1800’s, wrote quite a number of poems about the women who Jesus ministered to here on earth. I’d like to share his poem entitled, “The Syrophoenician Woman”:
“’Grant, Lord, her prayer, and let her go;
She crieth after us.’
Nay, to the dogs ye cast it so;
Serve not a woman thus.
Their pride, by condescension fed,
He speaks with truer tongue
‘It is not meet the children’s bread
Should to the dogs be flung.’
The words, because they were so sore,
His tender voice did rue;
His face a gentle sadness wore,
And showed He suffered too.
He makes her share the hurt of good,
Takes what she would have lent,
That those proud men their evil mood
May see, and so repent,
And that the hidden faith in her
May burst in soaring flame,
From childhood deeper, holier,
If birthright not the same.
‘Truth, Lord; and yet the dogs that crawl
under the table, eat
The crumbs the little ones, let fall –
And that is not unmeet.’
Ill names, of proud religion born –
She’ll wear the worst that comes;
Will clothe her, patient, in their scorn,
To share the healing crumbs.
The cry rebuff could not abate
Was not like water spilt;
‘O woman, but they faith is great!
Be it even as thou wilt.’
Oh, happy she who will not tire,
But, baffled, prayeth still!
What if He grant her heart’s desire
In fullness of her will.”
“For the very essence of the Christian life is the giving of self to God. And we give ourselves to Him by giving ourselves to his children here on earth.”
“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself.”
John 12: 32
Make Me a Lover
“Mender of broken reeds,
O patient Lover,
‘Tis love my brothers (and sisters) need;
Make me a lover,
That is poor need may be
Mended and tuned for Thee,
O Lord, of even me
Make a true lover.
Kindlier of smoking flax,
O fervent Lover,
Give what Thy servant lacks;
Make me a lover,
That this poor flax may be
Quickened, aflame for Thee.
O Lord, of even me
Make a true lover.”
The Delights of Life
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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