September 5, 2021

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 35:4-7                                     

Mark 7:24-37

Prayer….O, Lord our God, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and redeemer.  Amen.

Today Jesus is in Gentile territory in the region of Tyre.  He’s had little time alone with his twelve as he goes from village to village teaching and healing.  He has become well known, so when he enters a village the folks their flock to him, for his teaching and healing.  Earlier in Chapter 7 Jesus has an encounter with the Pharisees and Scribes over cleanliness – his disciples did not wash their hands before eating.  This was a “no no” according to tradition.  They considered Jesus’ disciples unclean, and this thinking carries over into our text today.  So, Jesus calls the crowd to him and instructs it’s not what goes into our bodies that defile or make unclean, it is what is in the heart and what comes out of our bodies.  Remember in my last sermon I stressed preparing our heart for Jesus…God to abide in it.  With Jesus in our heart what comes out of us is not defiled or unclean but the light of Christ which is the Lamb of God which shed his blood so we might live….eternally.

So, with that background knowledge let’s look at our text today.  Jesus is in Gentile territory with his twelve disciples.  There’s a good chance he is here so no one will notice him, and he can have some down time with his disciples.  Our text actually states he did not want anyone to know where he was (verse 24).  Let’s remember Jesus was divine…God…but human also.  He got tired just like us.  He wants time with his disciples with no outside interruptions.  Here he can just be Jesus, their friend, rabbi, and sometimes their Savior.  But their seclusion is broken, when another actor from our text today appears.  A woman!!!!!  Remember what I mention earlier about purity laws.  Well, this lady was a Gentile….unclean….not a Jew.  So here she breaks the purity law.  She is alone….social law…not accompanied by 1) a husband who would do the talking or 2) a male relative who would do the talking.  But this feisty lady comes in, bows at Jesus’ feet, and rapidly asks him to heal her daughter.  Remember Jesus is tired, frazzled and needs rest.  He refuses and as we know calls her a …a…dog.  Common thinking about dogs of the day.  Unclean dogs roamed streets eating defiled food.  Jesus feels called to the Jewish folks and he unkindly reminds her she is not a Jew.  Her reaction…humble….crumbs.  Jesus feels called only to the Jews, but this woman reminds him that God’s love, grace is abundant, enough for everyone…Jew—Gentile.  This day the teacher is taught….that God’s kingdom is much larger than even Jesus understands it.  Jesus leaves Tyre and goes to the region of Decapolis….Gentile mostly.  

What can we glean from this text today?  Look at who teaches Jesus this day.  It is an unclean woman, a woman who breaks proper protocol by approaching Jesus alone and who has all the cards stacked against her.  But she has one thing working for her…she is a MOM…and is willing to walk through hell if that was what it took to get her daughter healed.  Jesus is reminded that he came to the lost, the poor, the outcast, and this lady humbly informs Jesus that God’s grace is so abundant it is enough for all who seek it….this includes the outsider…a Gentile.  Now let’s see how this may apply to church.  Let’s say we or some church has some new folks attending.  Being new how would we receive suggestions from the newcomers? Maybe they would give suggestions on how to improve our worship.  That’s holy territory, and how could a greenhorn know how to do things better.  But maybe it’s the newcomer who can actually see things we may have overlooked, in time we become complacent and well we’ve done it this way since I’ve been here.  Just think how newcomers may have some refreshing ideas, or ability that the church could use.  We must be open to new ideas; we may not be able to use them but we should surely seek new input whenever it is spoken.  For example, how might the church be taught by immigrants moving into our area? How might folks at nursing homes ideas be received?  I think you get the picture.  We must be open to change, to new ideas to… well you fill in the line.