A Study in Mark, Week 4

So far in the Gospel of Mark, we have been reading and discussing many examples of Jesus’ desire to bring something new, to break through the strongholds of sin, and to exhibit his authority over all things. We encounter a man on a mission to accomplish the will of God. He teaches, rebukes, corrects, trains, and heals time and again. And he exhibits immeasurably greater works than any leader, healer, or teacher has ever seen before.

To understand the context of our focus passage, we must understand a little bit about Jewish history around the time of Jesus. Jesus’ arrived on the scene in a very interesting time in history. Rome was the latest conqueror of this contested area of the world. The most powerful army of the time came in, picked up the pieces that the last great empire left, placed its own leaders in power, and imposed its way of life on a land once promised to God’s chosen people, the Jews. The New Testament names two types of people frequently to categorise the tension of the two people groups who shared the same land, the Jews and the Greeks (or Gentiles). Think of the ‘Greeks’ as the Palestinians now. Different ancestry, culture, religion, etc.

The Jews were anticipating a Messiah to come save them from the wrath of Rome. They were awaiting redemption that was promised to them 2000 years before. When Jesus enters the picture, the Jews were not convinced that he was the one to rescue them. Perhaps they were looking for a military leader to conquer the Romans, or maybe they thought he would play by the rules of Jewish law. But no matter what the reason, the Jews were looking for someone to come redeem themselves, not the Greeks.

At the end of Mark 6, Jesus and his disciples get in a boat to go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a Gentile region. We see that Jesus’ reputation has preceded him, even into this non-Jewish community. Thankfully for all us Gentiles, Jesus came to redeem all peoples, especially those far from him.

Redemption is the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. Our goal this week is to think through how we can seek and receive Jesus’ redemptive power.

Passage: Mark 7:24-37

24 Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. 25 In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.  27 “First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 28 “Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. 31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. 33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spat and touched the man’s tongue.  34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).  35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (NIV)

Questions:

  1. What stood out to you in chapters 7&8 of Mark?
  2. What do you find interesting about Jesus’ initial response to the Syro-Phoenician woman?
  3. What did her clever response communicate to Jesus?
  4. How much significance is there that the deaf, mute man did not come to Jesus on his own?
  5. After reading through these two stories which aspects do you relate to most?
  6. The Syro-Phoenician woman is a great example of recognising Jesus’ authority and ability to heal and redeem even those who are far from God. But she not only recognises this power, she claims it for her own daughter. How might you claim the redemptive power of Christ in your, or another’s, life?
  7. This passage contains two examples of what Jesus calls, “bringing heaven to Earth.” What do you believe is your role in bringing heaven to Earth?
  8. Redemption is a powerful theme throughout Scripture. As a group, attempt to define practical ways in which you can carry the presence of God to help redeem the world around you.

Prayer:

As Christians, we believe that prayer plays an important role in all aspects of our lives. We want to encourage you to pray that God will take what has been discussed and change your life. Be bold, and be brave as you reach out to claim the redemptive power of Jesus for your life, or other’s lives.