Trusting Jesus to Heal
24[Jesus] 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,25but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He 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.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. Mark 7:24-37
A woman begs Jesus to cast an unclean spirit out of her daughter and surprisingly he tries to dismiss her. Jesus’ response is not compassionate or kind like we might expect, but instead he is flip and insulting. Yet she is undeterred. Her desperation, her need for this healing, and her belief that Jesus can save her daughter are so great, the woman transforms his insult into a compelling image of the abundance Jesus brings to our hurting world. “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She tells him that there is enough. His power, his ability to heal and transform the brokenness in the world is so great that even discarded bits that fall like crumbs are enough to fill her need. At this, Jesus relents and sends the woman back home where she finds her daughter fully healed.
I find it powerful that it is a woman who spars with Jesus here. I am moved by her passion and her quick reply. I am sad that Jesus’ first response is to turn away from her need since she is not in his “group.” And yet, I am grateful that we have this story where Jesus relents and expands his work to “outsiders.” This encounter reminds us that the boundaries of race, gender, culture, religion, politics, and whatever else human beings think should divide us are not in fact a barrier to God’s transforming power. Even though sometimes it takes a moment to realize that.
She persisted. She called for action despite the disrespect Jesus showed her. Jesus’ initial response troubles me, and yet I find hope that he was moved by her response and healed the child. We see Jesus change course and open his ministry to the wider world.
Deacon Alicia Anderson, Campus Minister for Lutheran Campus Ministry
The people of Grace share their favorite bible stories for the 2023 Lenten Devotional: I Love to Tell the Story. Each day's devotional will be automatically posted so come back daily after 7 am for a new reflection.