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.

Mark 7:24-30
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.

1 comment:

David and Elizabeth said...

Hey Noah, this is an awesome way to get some day-to-day interaction with the guys and to get them meditating and really thinking. you asked me throw something up here so here it is:

A) while this seems out of character with Christ we remember that His primary mission was to the Jewish people, His meaning is clear here, the Jews FIRST (not ONLY). John Gill says " as a priest, or as a Saviour and Redeemer, He was sent to make satisfaction and atonement for the sins of all God's elect, and to obtain eternal redemption and salvation for all of them, whether Jews or Gentiles;as a prophet, in the discharge of His own personal ministry, he was sent by His Father only to the Jews."

B) We as New Testament believers claim only a small portion of the covenant God made with Abraham "and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed" God made the promise and even though he had to turn from Israel for a short time, he will return to them and fulfill the covenant, he has to, because he made a promise that hasn't been fulfilled. Look at the linage of Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, who is in both?? Abraham! oh, yeah, Jesus was a decendant of ole Abe. The only way the Gentiles are blessed (by Christ) was though God's promise to Abraham, it is like my Hebrew teacher used to say "we as Christians only have a small fingernail's hold in the rock of the Abrahamic covenant." Jesus knew this, that is why He came to the Jews first, but not only.

We come to Christ as little dogs and leave as children of the King, what a beautiful story of absolute trust and forgiveness. Thank you Noah for giving me something to ponder on this week.

God bless.