‘That’s so random!’ I remember saying when something came up in conversation that seemed to come out of nowhere. Funny thing, I looked up the expression only to find quite a bit said about it.1 Originally, like back in the 17th century, the word random meant lacking a definite purpose. Jesus is definitely not random, as he came with a purpose, lived on purpose and moved through his life with purpose.
Because we take sections of verses as we read through the Scripture, it is important to see the larger picture—the context. Take a moment to consider Mark chapter 7, this link from the New Living Translation: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%207&version=NLT
Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter.
Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.”
“Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.
Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.
Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.” Mark 7.24-37
As we come to the end of this chapter, verses 24-37, I thought to entitle this briefing:
--Mothers are World Changers
--Jesus goes to Great Length to get His Man Woman
--Jesus must have been in Great Shape!
--Fitness by Jesus
--The Power of Persistent Prayer
--The Strength of Humility and knowing One’s Proper Place
--When you need to Sharpen Your Hearing
--All are Welcome Here
--Nothing Predictable about Jesus
Any or all of these apply to these last several verses. You decide what fits.
Here’s the haps:
Jesus leaves the Galilee region and travels quite a distance to the area of Tyre, in what is modern day Lebanon. The city of Tyre is on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Beirut, and more than 4000 years old. Depending on the specifics of Jesus’ origination around the Galilee, he travels between 35 and 50 miles to get there.
Jesus sought a little r and r, but when a desperate mother found out he was there, no rest was to be had. She humbly fell at Jesus’ feet asking him to heal her demon-afflicted young daughter. Neither Mark nor Matthew who also wrote of this event2 explain the girl’s symptoms. Theirs is an interesting dialogue, but to understand, this Gentile mother of a people group looked down on by the Jews, went boldly to Jesus, even though she knew she had no right to even approach him, a holy Jewish man. Yet she was unabashed in her approach. When Jesus questioned her about her audacity, she admitted that even little puppies profit from the crumbs that fall from the dinner table.
The meaning – the woman understood her humble position – she had no right to expect a thing from Jesus, but because she loved her daughter so much, she persisted in asking Jesus anyway.
Now from our position of some understanding two thousand years later – as we hold the printed gospel accounts in our hands, there appeared to be no other reason that Jesus made the long walk out of Israel proper (the only time he did this) to enter Gentile territory. Jesus went to set this little girl free—did not matter a fig that she was a Gentile.
When he left the girl and her very thankful mother, Jesus and his men travelled back to the region of the Sea of Galilee, but to the far side, to the area of the ten towns or the Decapolis3. Interesting, isn’t it? Jesus walked even further this time—the reason I comment that he must have been one very fit rabbi—passing through Jewish territory to another Gentile region.
Once there, friends bring a deaf man with a speech impediment to Jesus, begging him to heal the man. He heals him in a demonstrative, symbolic way: clearly the man could not hear whatever words of healing he would have spoken, so instead, Jesus puts his finger in each of the man’s ears to heal.
Maybe Jesus would like to stick his fingers in your ears or my ears occasionally so we would clearly hear when he is speaking to us. Hmmm…
Jew or Gentile, it did not matter to Jesus. All were welcome. The ground is level at the foot of the cross, you know? When we get to Heaven, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with Moroccans, Kenyans, Indians, Chinese, Russians, Americans and Dutchmen.
And mothers? In Heaven, they will probably get their dinner first for once and their food won’t be cold.4 God bless you, Mothers, for all of your sacrifices. Thank you for all of the prayers you have prayed for your children. There is none so persistent as the praying mother of an ailing child. Even though my children are all adults, I know the unrelenting, persistent prayers I put before my loving Heavenly Father daily. There is none like Him.
And in the spirit of the little girl in this event, the deaf man too - be persistent in praying for those who need healing. Carry them by name to the Father. I'm lifting up Sam, Al, Edie, Sue, Graziano, and Barbara... O God, come and do what only you can do.
Only a holy God could do what you do! song: https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=7HSdeeCm8_g
Following in the footsteps of Jesus in the gospel of Mark, 25
1 – a really interesting little bit on random from of all place, NPR: https://www.npr.org/2012/11/30/166240531/thats-so-random-the-evolution-of-an-odd-word
2 Matthew 15.21-28
3 the 10 cities were of Greek influence under Roman rule. A little study of the cities is quite interesting: https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/a-far-country-decapolis
4 what am I talking about… mothers and cold food? When a mother has young children or babies, she is oft the last one to the table, or has to get up to quiet a crying baby, and by the time, she picks up her fork again, her food is cold. I know. I had the privilege of eating cold food many a time, having raised four kids.