A crumb from the Master's table
Mark 7:24-8:10 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice. 25 But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.
31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
8 In those days, when there was again a large crowd and they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, 2 “I feel compassion for the people because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come from a great distance.” 4 And His disciples answered Him, “Where will anyone be able to find enough bread here in this desolate place to satisfy these people?” 5 And He was asking them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven.” 6 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well. 8 And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. 9 About four thousand were there; and He sent them away. 10 And immediately He entered the boat with His disciples and came to the district of Dalmanutha.
In today’s text there is an account of a non-Jewish woman, who comes to Jesus seeking deliverance for her daughter. Jesus initial response to her is surprising. It doesn’t fit well with the principles of equality and inclusiveness we associate with Jesus today. The text says: Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And He was saying to her, “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Jesus came, first as Messiah to the Jewish people. They were the ones who had the words of the prophets with which they should have recognized Jesus. His earthly ministry was focused on them, calling them into a new covenant with God. The text continues: But she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” The woman did not argue that Jesus was unfair or unjust in focusing on His ministry to the Jews. Instead she recognized that in the presence of Jesus, in the kingdom of heaven which He brought to earth, there was an abundance and an overflow of blessings. To her it did not matter that others might be first and receive more, all she wanted was a little bit of what was left over. A crumb from the kingdom of heaven would meet her need. Jesus responds again to her: And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” It was both the woman’s faith and her humility which Jesus responded to. Hebrews 4:15-16 says: we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Like the woman in today’s text, we are encouraged to come boldly to Christ at the throne of grace. There is a difference though between being bold and being demanding and presumptuous. The woman came humbly, not trying to justify herself, not demanding she be treated equally, but humbly acknowledging her standing, yet boldly seeking the benefits of the Lord’s presence.
Unlike Jesus earthly ministry, His ultimate purpose in coming to live as a man, His mission to give His life as a sacrifice for sin, was not for the Jews only, but for everyone. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Redemption, the forgiveness of sins is for everyone who comes to Jesus and believes. At the cross all are equal. The words of Jesus: “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” are for everyone.
Later in today’s text we see another example of the abundance and overflow of the kingdom of heaven. And they ate and were satisfied; and they picked up seven large baskets full of what was left over of the broken pieces. About four thousand were there; In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I think sometimes we misunderstand or misinterpret what the abundance of Christ, the abundance of the kingdom of heaven really is. Jesus didn’t provide a luxurious, extravagant meal for the thousands. Surely if He could multiply the loaves and fish to provide for them all, then the God of creation could have called forth anything He wanted to feed them. Likewise when the nation of Israel wondered in the wilderness, God could have provided all sorts of food for them. Instead, each day He provided them enough manna for that day. Philippians 4:19 says: And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Indeed God will supply everything we need and more. He will not though supply our greed. To presume that because we live in the abundance of Christ and the kingdom of heaven, we should have the biggest house and the nicest car, that we should have excess of luxury, is not the abundance Jesus promises. It is not that we may not have those things, but surely they are not promised us. Like the woman in today’s text, we should be satisfied with who we are. In Matthew 11:11 Jesus says: "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Who we are in Christ, even the least of us, has more than we could ever need. Rather than measure ourselves against others in material things, we should be like Paul, who says: I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13) Or as the psalmist says: Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. When we focus on the Lord, His presence, His kingdom we will have all that we need and more.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that we are all equal in the kingdom of heaven, even though we are not all the same. You provide more of some things to some, but You give us all everything we need both now and forever. Thank You Lord whether a crumb from Your table or a banquet feast, You supply all I need. I am content, satisfied in You. Not only do I have all I need, but I too, can do all things through You. Amen.