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The Syro-Phoenician Woman

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2020 12:01 am

The Syro-Phoenician Woman

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 1, 2020 12:01 am

Not belonging to the people of Israel, a desperate mother pleaded for Jesus' help, knowing that His slightest mercy was beyond what she deserved. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in Mark's gospel to observe this incredible picture of the gospel.

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Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind. This is a woman who was so committed to the rescue of her daughter that she simply will not take no for an answer and we see that Jesus is not quick here to give answer to her petition. This woman is not amused willing infection from the group of people considered undesirable if she goes to Jesus and pleads with him to heal her daughter. It's an incredible picture of the gospel to list what Dr. RC school as he continues his study from Mark chapter 7 the last few weeks we've been examining the dispute that took place between Jesus and the religious authorities of his day over the issues of ritual purity matters of the washing of the hands and we've just looked at Jesus discourse where he distinguishes the difference between the defilement that comes from within, rather than that which comes from without, and it's immediately after this discourse on what is clean and what is unclean, that the narrative continues with Jesus withdrawing from that region and going purposefully into a region that was notoriously on clean. I think it's safe to assume that the purpose of Jesus movement into this region was not to go on a missionary journey to the Gentiles because he understood that his vocation was to proclaim the kingdom first to the Jews and then later on to the Gentiles that he sought a residence in which to stay and hope that no one could find him there indicates that the purpose of our Lord here was to seek some rest from the pressing multitudes and from the debates that he has been going through and so he withdraws from Israel. This is the only time in the record of our Lord's life that he is seen leaving the ancient borders of Israel and going directly into a pagan land and so were told that he went to the region of Tyre and Sidon know what region was that Tyre was 20 miles to the northwest of Capernaum were Jesus had been laboring all along in that area and tire was situated in ancient Phoenicia and it was under the administration in Roman occupation of Syria in the first century, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made the remark that tire represented the most better enemy that the Jews had at that time it was also the region most grossly committed to paganism when there's paganism and there's paganism but the paganism in and around Tyre and Sidon in this region was notorious for its wholesale activity with respect to idolatry and so Jesus goes into this hotbed of idolatry into this den of rank paganism trotting to find respite from the crowds that are pursuing him, but we read from Mark that he could not be hidden. That observation that Mark made then is true today. No matter how much people try to hide Jesus. He cannot be hidden. Even in the darkest places of this world, but there was a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit, and she heard about him and we read that she came and fell at his feet.

The fact that she came in, went facedown into the dirt in front of him indicates two things. The first of all, she was paying homage to him.

She was showing her profound respect to him. Even though she didn't know him except by reputation. But not only is this a sign of homage. But it's also a sign of abject pleading. She's falling on the ground in front of Jesus because from her perspective. Her last hope for the redemption of her little girl who is been possessed of a demon is from the touch of this man who is in front of her nonstop right there for just a second. We've just heard this lengthy discourse about the clean and the unclean and we've seen the religious authorities of the clean manifest their unbelief and their unwillingness to pay homage to Jesus. And now, in stark contrast to the unbelief and hostility of the Jewish leaders we have this pagan woman who is manifestly unclean, frustrating herself before the Lord Jesus Christ and begging him for his mercy.

Woman was a Greek, a sorrow for mission by birth. As I mentioned Phoenicia was now under the domination of Syria and that's why she's called sorrow, Phoenicia, and the fact that the Bible calls for Greek means simply that she had been part of that group of people who would been subject to the conquest of Alexander the great and were Hellenized, that is, she spoke the Greek language, but she was not a native of Greece, Mark makes that clear.

She was born in the sorrow for mission region, but notice what she does. Mark tells us that she kept asking him to cast the demon out of her daughter June just common save please Jesus heal my daughter but she's persistent. She's begging. She's asking over and over and over again recalling to our minds. The important widow who pastored the unjust judge until he relented and gave relief to her.

So this is a woman who was so committed to the rescue of her daughter that she simply will not take no for an answer and we see that Jesus is not quick here to give answer to her petition. He allows her to repeat it over and over again and finally when he does give answer his answer seems at least on the surface, to be completely harsh and in sensitive Jesus said to her, let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.

How's that for a compassionate response from Jesus to this woman whose beseeching him for relief for compassion for saving her little girl Jesus is let the children a first you don't take the food that is meant for the children and give it to the docks several years ago a feminist scholar, wrote an essay giving a scathing critique of Jesus response to the sorrow for mission woman saying that his insensitivity and harshness was so severe on this occasion that he so demeaned this woman in typical chauvinistic fashion that he so insulted this for woman that he transgressed all of the boundaries of courtesy and crossed the line even into slander and that this text is exhibit a that indicates that Jesus was, not sinless because surely on this occasion, he send against this innocent woman that he so demeaned and insulted by calling her a dog might hasten to add that one of the worst insults you could give to a person in that region. In antiquity, was to call them a dog because dogs were for the most part, not the fluffy warm puppies that are household pets that we enjoy, but they were at the very best scavengers at time fear.

All they would feast upon garbage on carry-on and even devour corpses. They were the filthiest animal in the towns and the worst insult you could give a person was to call them a dog. Jesus himself in the sermon on the Mount said we don't give our pearls before swine. Neither do we take that which is holy and give it to dogs and a couple of things that the be seen.

Notice that in the translation that I read to you the word dogs was qualified by the adjective little nuts because in the Greek here the word for dog is rendered in the diminutive sense so that what Jesus talks about here are small dogs that are at the table in somebody's house. Well, in addition to the scavenging dogs that you find outside eating the carry-on and so on.

The garbage of the city. There were domesticated dogs in antiquity. The little dogs that were brought into the home and function as household pets, but the principal in the home was you could feed the animals from the table and give them table scraps, but only after the rest of the family has already eaten.

I like that principle I have dogs in our house and in our house, with respect to our dogs.

We have three ironclad rules you might want to adopt these for your own household. If you have the first rule is this. We don't feed our dogs human food. They have carefully prepared nutritious dog job. That is what we provide for them. So the first role is no human food. We don't always obey that rule, however, and so since we are a little bit lax in our obedience to that rule. We have rule number two and rule number two is if we are to give them human food. It must never ever be given to them from the table because once you start giving food to dogs from the table. They will anticipate that and become a nuisance as you're having your family meal the most of the people in our family have been able to adhere rigidly to rule two. One of us.

However, has even found it difficult to maintain the second rule may call but there are times when our dogs look at me so longingly that I cannot resist giving them food from the table thereupon she who must be obeyed has issued rule number three and see has said if you must feed the dogs from the table. At least wait until dinner is over and everybody else has left the table. Then you can sit there and give them some scraps so that my dogs know very well there not a lot of take anything from the table and if they're going to be fed from the table they have to wait patiently until everybody's finish. Now that's a nice way to run the house. We have three rules. You pick the one you want. But there's another unspoken rule and it was the rule in the Jewish household and that was this but suppose while the dogs are dutifully and obediently waiting until the family has eaten before they are allowed to have any scraps whatsoever. If during that time, inadvertently, some food should fall from the table than it was reasonable to allow the dogs to eat those scraps or crumbs that inadvertently fell from the table. We have the same rule busted doesn't like it if some food falls. My plate on the ground and I try to pick it up and put it back on the plate then it's okay for the dogs to eat it. So now and then I'll accidentally knock a piece on and so what Jesus is saying to this woman is the children.

The first, and he's referring to the children of Israel, and he's clearly saying my ministry has a priority. I didn't come here for ministry. My ministry is to take care of the children. The children of Israel not to give the food that is designed for the children to the little docks and notice what she says there's no feminist protest here by the Sarver mission woman when he says we feed the children first and not the dogs. The woman says yes Lord know how much of the pejorative idea of dog is incorporated in Jesus's statement we leave for further debate. But whether that pejorative connotation is great or infinitesimal.

It didn't bother that woman. That woman didn't stand up and protest and say how dare you insult me and speak to me as if I were a dog, even if it's a household that I'm no dog I'm a woman is not a response. Her response was yes Lord, I understand. I have no prior claim to your mercy. I am not numbered among the children.

I can't jump up on the table and feast upon the food that you set before your children. I don't want that. I'm satisfied. Lord, with the comps all masking to select one from the falls from your table coming to my mouth and I'm satisfied heal my daughter. Please, I know she's not your family.

I know she's not numbered among the children.

We are the dogs who wait for the crumbs but one from is all I'm asking for you see the difference between this woman and the Pharisees. This woman wasn't in there fighting for her rights or for her dignity. She knew who she was. Notice how many times in the Bible. When people come before the living God. They identify themselves with the lowest forms of life or of animals. I am a word of God and not a man. I have no claim on the sweetness of your grace because your grace is just that gracious and every crumb that you bestow upon me is one I receive as an un-worthy servant, and yet dear friends, the true believer savers every crumb that comes from the hand of God and the good news is that in the overflow of mercy and grace that comes to us from the hands of God. Though we should be satisfied with crumb. He is not satisfied with giving us crumbs. He prepares a table before us his appointed us to attend a banquet in heaven, he has established from the foundation of the world.

The wedding feast of the Lamb and is given to each of us who are in Christ Jesus and invitation to that feast where we won't have to wait until dinner is over before we get our portion in the woman engages Jesus in the battle of wits Erie suggested I understand that the dogs have to wait until after dinner.

But during the bidder, they can still eat if crumbs fall discriminate crumb so I want Jesus hasn't found faith like that in Capernaum. He hasn't found faith like that among the Pharisees are among the rabbis rabbis had a say that to eat with an idolater is like eating with a dog in this woman comes from a land given to idolatry. But Jesus permitted her to eat their friends and that encounter and what happened afterwards. I'm convinced that that woman for the rest of her life never complained about a single word that Jesus spoke to her it wasn't her hard to describe. Our Lord is harsh and insensitive, demeaning or sinful the rest of her life. She was on her knees thanking God that she met the living Christ, who by the spoken word by the giving of a command didn't even have to go home with her.

He said to her in the home it's okay your daughter is healed when incredible experience were Jesus to the unclean gave that which is holy and sacred.

Notice also in the New Testament that we who are Gentiles are the wild olive branch that is been grafted into the tree of Israel in terms of redemptive history. We are the dogs, Israel are the children because the children refused the gifts of the father to them. The father gave that gift now to us who had no claim upon its originally. Would any of you trade-in the crime of your salvation for anything in this world because that crumb is at the same time hurl great price gave it to the server definition woman gives it to you. The kindness of God is beyond comprehension visited our study today from Mark chapter 7 continues Dr. RC Sproles verse by verse series through Mark's gospel. We returned to the study each Sunday here and Renewing Your Mind.

And that were gaining insight into the life of Jesus and his ministry here on earth were less than halfway through the series so let me encourage you to request today's resource offer. It will be a helpful study companion for you each week is Dr. Sproles commentary on the Gospel of Mark.

It's a hardbound volume with nearly 400 pages of teaching from Dr. Sproles requested today. When you give a donation of any amount to leader ministries and you can do that online and Renewing Your Mind can't work. We are grateful for your gifts, let me assure you that will be used to help people around the world discover the holiness of God in all its fullness. Jesus ministry on earth was shocking to the people he encountered next Sunday will learn about the healing of a deaf man.

It will see how the crowd reacted, then I hope you'll join us again next Wednesday for Renewing Your Mind

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