This Week's Focus Passage

Mark 7:28 ‘Even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.’

Mark 7:28 ‘Even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.’ 

And from thence he arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered into a house, and would have no man know it; and he could not be hid. But straightway a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of him, came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by race. And she besought him that he would cast forth the demon out of her daughter. And he said unto her, let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs. But she answered and saith unto him, Yea, Lord; even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, for this saying go thy way; the demon is gone out of thy daughter. And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the demon gone out.—Mark 7:24-30.

This remarkable account is to be found also in Matthew’s gospel narrative, with just a few differences—differences that may be greatly informative—or not. Matthew has given us somewhat of a deeper insight into the understanding of this woman. He relates that she not only besought him that he would cast forth the demon out of her daughter, but that she, cried, saying, have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David. Surely, this is most noteworthy. She addresses our Savior as Lord. Where did that come from? Think about it; in a day when many are denying the necessity for Christians to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, this Syro-phoenician woman cries unto Him, Lord. And not only so, but she, like many other records of applicants for mercy in the New Testament, calls Him, thou Son of David. Where did she learn that? It is true that Mark has her saying, Yea, Lord, but what is the significance of adding, thou Son of David?

Does that title not speak of the covenant relationship between Jesus the anointed and David the anointed? The New Testament (Covenant) begins immediately with such a suggestion through the record of the genealogy of Jesus.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

This is the book of the generation of Jesus; not simply Jesus, but Jesus the Christ; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Anointed One. The psalmist speaks of Him in Psalm two, when he has declared, The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his anointed. The church, in Acts 4:25-27, cites this very psalm, and Luke adds that they said, For of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, who thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pilate, with the people, were gathered. Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Anointed of God. And he is the Son of David, who was, as a type of Christ, anointed by Samuel, David was God’s Covenant king of Israel; Jesus Christ is Himself our Covenant. This is stated in Isaiah 42:6-7;

I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.

What would permit us to say that this Gentile woman had not had her blind eyes opened; that she who had been sitting in darkness was enabled, by the grace of God, to see the Light of the World, Jesus the Christ? Was this not the work of Jehovah, and marvelous in our eyes?—Psalm 118:23. When we witness water running uphill, we ought to be happily ready to concede that God has begun to do a great work before our eyes. Was it not rather startling to read the words of response from Christ to this woman? We don’t know if His argument, that it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs, is the most surprising, or her bold response; Yea, Lord; even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. These are two marvels set before our eyes. Jesus sounds more like a racist Jew with His seemingly ungracious response to her plea. And this woman seems to be much more bold than we might have expected from one in her position. The comments of G. A. Chadwick are helpful for us here, when he wrote in his commentary on Mark:

“It is indeed touching to reflect how impregnable was Jesus in controversy with the keenest intellects of Judaism, with how sharp a weapon He rent their snares, and retorted their arguments to their confusion, and then to observe Him inviting, tempting, preparing the way for an argument which would lead Him, gladly won, captive to a heathen’s and a woman’s importunate and trustful sagacity. It is the same Divine condescension which gave to Jacob his new name of Israel because he had striven with God and prevailed.’—G. A. Chadwick.

Only some form of nationalism or discrimination such as frequently evidenced by the Pharisees, and so painfully demonstrated by the behavior of Jonah the prophet when he fled to Tarshish after Jehovah had commanded him to Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come before me.—Jonah 1:2. Most attention to Jonah is usually given to the question of a great fish and ‘how could that be?’ Jonah is actually quite a character. And he may pattern out much of mankind if we are honest with ourselves. Why did Jonah immediately rise up and flee to Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah? It would be well if more folk asked this question rather than ‘where did that fish come from?’ We are not told immediately the reason Jonah behaved this way.

This is left for near the conclusion of the book of Jonah, when there is a curious dialogue between the dejected prophet and Jehovah Himself, after that the people of Nineveh had repented in sackcloth and ashes and turned to the Lord.

It is nothing less than shocking to read beginning in chapter 4, that it displeased Jonah; it did not only displease him, but God the Holy Spirit has said, it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. He continued his complaint against God, saying, if we may paraphrase here, ‘I knew that you were gracious; that you were merciful; that you were slow to anger; that you were abundant in lovingkindness; that you would repent of the evil design to destroy Nineveh as you had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. But, no, you granted them repentance. And you have forgiven them. I just knew it; that is why I fled to Tarshish. These people are not Jews. I do well to be angry. Christ happily received the Syro-phoenician woman. Let us imitate Christ. Let us not imitate Jonah. Amen.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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