So hard to believe that we are already halfway through the month and thus halfway through writing everyday for 31 days!!! What a journey it has been.
Today we return to Jesus gathering the crowds around Him, following His reprimand of the Pharisees and Scribes for keeping the traditions of men instead of God’s law. But after Jesus talks to the crowds, He calls the disciples into a house alone to explain to them what He has just spoken. Then He leaves and tries to enter a house without being noticed only to extend grace to a Gentile woman. Finally, Jesus travels through the area in Mark 5 where He had cast out the demon and the people were afraid of Him and told Him to leave. So much today so lets get started.
In yesterday’s passage, Jesus was very strict when speaking to the Pharisees and Scribes in regards to their practice of religion and yet not truly worshipping the Lord. Right after this exchange, Jesus calls the crowd to Himself and shares essentially the same message with them as He did with the religious leaders, but in the form of a parable.
“Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7:15)
The crowd must have been slightly confused about why Jesus was teaching such a thing. Why would he be talking about what a person eats and then what comes out? Jesus encourages the crowd that anyone who has ears should listen, but does not explain to them the parable.
As we have often seen, Jesus takes His disciples into a house and explains the parable to them since He recognizes they still have a lack of understanding (v. 18). Jesus states that what goes into a man from the outside goes into his stomach and not his heart and is then eliminated (v. 19). It is not what comes out of man, but what comes out of one’s heart that defiles him. He then tells them what is in the heart.
“For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, promiscuity, stinginess, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” Mark 7:21-22
Where Jeremiah could only communicate to God’s people the seriousness behind their actions that were flowing from their hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), Jesus clearly understood the heart of man as well as the cure. Because it is our hearts that defile us, Proverbs strongly warns us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Then in Galatians, Paul shows the struggle between our flesh and the Spirit that lives inside of us.
“For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:17-21
Next, Jesus travels to the region of Tyre and Sidon where He tries to enter into a house without being noticed (v. 24). I imagine the paparazzi seeking him out and spreading the rumor He has now made it to their area and where to find him. Anyway, immediately after hearing where Jesus was, a woman who had a daughter with an unclean spirit, left her daughter and home, and fell at the feet of Jesus (v.25). She then proceeded to keep asking Jesus to drive it out of her daughter (v. 26). Does this sound familiar? See Moment 14: Desperate for His Face. Upon this act of faith and desperation, Jesus’ response at first seems out of place. However, in His perfect way, Jesus let the heart of a person be revealed for God to receive greater glory and allow the testimony to ring out even louder. The woman’s response reveals her belief in the power Jesus has as well as the understanding that though the Gospel was going to the Jews first; it was also for the Gentiles. The woman still had to hold onto her belief about Jesus in order to leave Him and just trust His word that her daughter had been healed. Trusting Jesus at His word, she obeyed and went home to find her daughter lying on the bed and the demon was gone (v. 30).
Jesus then leaves Tyre and Sidon and on His way to the Sea of Galilee takes the route through the Decapolis (v. 31). This is the same area where the people drove Him away because they were afraid of Him (Mark 5:15-17). See also Moment 9: Demon Centered or Christ Centered. Instead of driving Jesus away this time, they bring to him a deaf man with a speech difficulty (v. 32). As did the woman with the demon-possessed daughter, they too beg Jesus to lay hands on the man. But instead of performing the miracle in front of the people, Jesus takes him away from the crowd privately (v. 33). This manner of miracle is unique because it is only one of three recorded in scripture where Jesus used saliva in order to heal someone (see Mark 8:23, John 9:6). In addition, Mark is the only one who records this particular miracle (Study Notes in Holman Christian Standard Bible, 1305). So why would Mark think it important to record this miracle. What does God want us to see from it and how does it apply to my life?
If we look back closer, the man could not hear and it was difficult for him to speak. So instead of just speaking to him and telling him to be healed, Jesus touched his ears, the ones he could not hear out of and touched his tongue, the one that was giving him difficulty in speaking. I believe this shows us Jesus meets us right where we are in whatever it is we are going through. He has the answer and the cure and will touch us exactly where we need to be touched in order to be healed. This is why everyone said, “He has done everything well…(v.37).”
Could it also be this miracle is recorded to remind us that we might be seeing clearly, but our ears are not open to hear from God and thus prohibiting us from speaking as well. Lord, open our ears to hear you. Open our mouths to give testimony to the great love You have for the world and the desire You have for Your truth to touch all lives!!