Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
If I had to choose one word to describe the scenes that play out in Mark 7:24–37, I would choose the word “desperate.” Both the Syrophoenician woman and the friends of the deaf and mute man were pleading, begging Jesus to heal the people they loved.
Most of the time, we read this passage and are confused by what seems like harsh words from Jesus—especially to the Syrophoenician woman. But what we don’t know is how Jesus spoke to her, what his body language conveyed. Was it just a test of her faith? Was Jesus trying to make it a teachable moment for the disciples? She is desperately persistent with Jesus, stating that even crumbs would be enough to heal her daughter. The words of the Syrophoenician woman are reminiscent of the hemorrhaging woman in Luke 8:43–48; she needed just to touch the fringe of Jesus’ clothes to be healed.
In the end, Jesus did not withhold his compassion or healing from either person. What we see in Mark 7:24–37 and Luke 8:43–48 is faith. These passages speak of a faith that is persistent and desperate for Jesus.
Many times we try to get by on our own, relying on ourselves to get through anything. It is also pretty easy to give up and walk away when life doesn’t go as we plan, or when situations do not get any better. But those are times when we need to sit at Jesus’ feet, when we have to plead prayerfully and desperately for perseverance—trusting that Jesus will lead us through and not withhold from us what he knows we need the most.
Sayward Lippincott, pastor
First Moravian Church, York, Pennsylvania