Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Men’s Bible Study on Mark 7
I took this picture last week in Colorado, after studying this passage a bit it has new meaning to me:) Through Christ Dogs (Gentiles) are welcome in Le Grand Hotel (the kingdom of heaven).
Here’s something to think about in preparation for Mark 7 this week. There are a few difficulties in understanding the following passage. Below I’ve written a summary of William Barclay’s commentary that might shed some light on this a little. It certainly helped me.
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden.
But immediately a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet.
Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.
And he said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."
But she answered him, "Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."
And he said to her, "For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter."
And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (ESV)
(Pp. 181-182 Barclay, William. 1956. The Gospel of Mark: Daily Study Bible. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Westminster Press.)
Summary of what William Barclay's commentary (on the passage) had to say:
(1) Dog is a derogatory word for non-Jews. (Isaiah 56:11; Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2; and Revelation 22:15) (KJV)
(2) Jesus used a diminutive word (affectionate Greek word). Jesus took the sting out of the word (but it was still a derogatory comment).
(3) By using a diminutive word he took a “deadly insult” and made it an affectionate address. (Again, He took the sting out of the word).
(4) People in those days wiped their soiled hands on bread and “flung” the bread away and the house-dogs ate it. Symbolically Jesus (the soiled, disregarded bread) was thrown to the Dogs (Gentiles) from the Jews. In Barclay’s words, “Symbolically she strands for the Gentile world which so eagerly seized on the bread of heaven which the Jews had rejected and thrown away.
What I saw in the passage after reading the commentary
The main thing that I can see from this is that Jesus was in fact using a derogatory address to the woman (not to mention all Gentiles). Even though some of the sting was taken out of the phrase it was still a derogatory comment. This is a description that, no doubt, many Gentiles warranted (and in many respects still do…starting with me). However, the real derogatory descriptor is the way Christ describes Himself. If calling people dogs was an insult; how much more of an insult was it to call Himself the filthy bread that the dogs ate? Our Lord always amazes me how He always brings Himself low, to His glory, so that we might be able to savour Him, the bread of life. Let us meditate on this as another aspect of the Lord’s supper. When we partake of the supper let us think of this: (1) we are dogs and (2) a holy, perfect, beautiful, triune God made His Son the filthy scraps of bread that we might take part in communion with Him. Through this "bread of life" we can enjoy Him, to His glory, for eternity. Hope this helps guys, I know it helped me.
Feel free to share any thoughts or corrections that you might have.