His love knows no limit

July 23rd, 2021

Mark 7:24-37

Sometimes people find it difficult to treat all people the same. We have a tendency to judge one another and treat others different according to their status in life. The car they drive, their color of skin, how they fit in socially, and even their physical appearance are measurements we use to judge people. What’s true today was also true in the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

In Mark 7, Jesus spends a significant amount of time teaching the people the dangers of principle; not fulfilling human-made laws. The Pharisees were judging the disciples because the disciples had eaten with unwashed (defiled) hands. Jesus responds by warning the Pharisees about obeying human commandments and ignoring God’s commandments.

When traditions become the driving force of our lives, we find ourselves living in a dangerous place and we may lose our perspective if we are not careful. It has been well stated: “Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.” Jesus said it this way: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus also once said, “That which comes from within a person is that which defiles.” Jesus not only taught by what he said, he went on to teach by example. In our text, verse 24 tells us that Jesus left and journeyed to the borders of Tyre and Sidon. What is significant is that Jesus left the Jewish communities and traveled to the Gentile areas of Tyre and Sidon. Jesus (who was clean) traveled to an area considered unclean to face and love unclean people.

When Jesus arrived at the edge of town, a woman from Syrian Phoenicia, a Greek woman, approached him on behalf of her sick daughter. Whereas the Pharisee’s would not address her at all, Jesus responded to the woman’s plea.

However, Jesus does not respond like we might expect. Jesus’ response to her request is that she must wait until all the children have been attended to first. In other words, this Gentile woman came expecting to be treated like a Jew. Matthew gives us a little more insight into this account. The woman pleads with Jesus by saying, “Son of David,” which was a Jewish reference. She approached Jesus with pretense and not in honesty. Jesus forced her to speak from the heart, out of her concern for her daughter. Jesus then healed her daughter, but not because of the woman’s speech, or who she knew. Once she was honest and spoke from the heart, Jesus answered her request. When the woman arrived home, her daughter was well and the demon had left her.

It would seem somewhat a surprise that Jesus would deal with the woman in the manner he did initially. Jesus seemed somewhat abrupt. Yet, we understand that Jesus cared very much for this woman and her demon-possessed daughter. Jesus wanted to accomplish three things in this encounter.

Jesus wanted the people to understand that all people are worthy of our love and compassion. People are not unclean because of race or nationality. They are precious in God’s sight and we should be reaching out toward these persons.

Jesus also wanted the woman to understand how much he cared about her, not because she spoke in Jewish terms. She didn’t have to do that for Jesus to care about her. She needed to be transparent. She needed to come to Jesus as she was and let Jesus love her in that condition. God is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance. That promise includes us. We must come to God as we are and allow God to love and forgive us.

The third thing Jesus desired from this situation was that the woman’s daughter might be healed. Jesus had every intention of healing the daughter. Jesus longs to see healing in our lives too. For the daughter, it was a demon that had her trapped. For us, it is sin. Jesus longs to free us of sin’s grip. Sin will paralyze us; Jesus will set us free. Sin will attempt to defeat us; Jesus promises us victory over sin and the devil. We, too, can be free. We must put our trust in Jesus.

Jesus follows this miracle of healing the daughter with the healing of a deaf man. Jesus and the disciples travel to Galilee where a group who bring a deaf man to Jesus confronts them. Jesus responds by touching the man and opening the man’s ears. Suddenly this man can both hear and speak. A miracle had taken place—that which had bound him was now gone. Can we relate? We, too, can be bound and gagged; we, too, can be left speechless by Satan the destroyer and by our own sin. But once Jesus moves into our lives, suddenly Satan is the one bound. He can’t get to us. He can’t control us. He cannot possess us.

It is a great and wonderful thing when Jesus moves into a life. It does not matter where you live or what your race. Your salary doesn’t matter, nor does the kind of car you drive. Jesus loves you as you are. Jesus simply doesn’t want you to stay bound. Jesus says, “We are free.” Free from sin. Free from bondage. Let Jesus open your ears of understanding and you will then learn from him. And to know Jesus, in a personal way, is to be free forever and ever.

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