Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jesus Welcome "Dogs" (A Reflection on Mark 7:24-30)

No human rules can control Jesus. He lived by God’s commandments. After he had just declared the Jewish outward laws of uncleanness as not valid (read Mark 7:14-23), Jesus went into Gentile territory – which the Jews regarded as unclean areas – “to the territory near the city of Tyre. He went into a house and did not want anyone to know he was there, but he could not stay hidden” (Mark 7:24, GNB). I watched TV news today about superstar diva Mariah Carey was spotted shopping at Kuala Lumpur. I’m sure she understand what Jesus went through: tired and couldn’t stay hidden (with the exception that Mariah intentionally want everyone to know).

Let me tell you first about the Jews’ arrogant attitude of superiority toward other peoples of the earth. They were proud as God’s chosen people. They regarded other races and nationalities as inferior to them. They treated everyone else as less than human. And as such, typically they think others as “dog.” (Familiar with this kind of thinking and discrimination?).

But contrary to what the Jews thought, God of the Bible love all people, and anyone can come to Him through faith in Jesus regardless of race, colour, creed or national origin. There was a Gentile woman – a despised Gentile “dog” – dare to meet and speak to Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. “A woman, whose daughter had an evil spirit in her, heard about Jesus and came to him at once and fell at his feet… She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter” (Mark 7:25-26, GNB). Wow! Notice the attitude of this woman. Again let me reminds you, the Jews referred to Gentiles like her as “dogs,” but that didn’t bother her. She was determined. She boldly come to Jesus and asked for His help.

Jesus reply may sound rude if you don’t understand His thinking and teachings. Jesus answer is not His assertion of superiority (btw, He is superior over all!), but a reflection of typical Jewish thinking. “Jesus answered, ‘Let us first feed the children. It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs’” (Mark 7:27). Jesus was saying that His earthy ministry was restricted to “the children” of Israel first then after that His disciples will continue the mission to the whole world. I think Jesus’ answer was partly serious-reminding and partly humorous-testing.

Regardless, the woman responded: “Sir, even the dogs under the table ate the children’s leftovers!” (Mark 7:28). I like her persistence! Commenter R.A. Cole writes, “She had not only persisted when the Lord refused to answer, she now accepted this humble position gladly, and showed that, even on those terms, she still claimed healing for her daughter. God’s abundance for His children was so rich that even the rank outsider could share in it.” The woman would not be turned away. She persisted in her request until she was rewarded. She knew she was not inferior in God’s sight. To Jesus the Son of God, she was not a “dog”!So Jesus said to her, ‘Because of that answer, go back home, where you will find that the demon has gone out of your daughter!’” (Mark 7:29).

I know what it’s like to feel inferior. I once thought that I was God’s “secondhands.” I was mocked and make fun of when I was a kid. I was skinny, dark, pimply-faced, disfigured chest, poor, slow to catch up and unattractive. But as I grown up and knowing Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, I came to realize that I was (and forever) of value to God in spite of my feeling of inferiority. I no longer a “dog” but now “children” of God. Faith in Christ makes all the difference! God is not respecter of persons. “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35, NIV). That means God is not looking for those of noble births or perfect figures, high ranks or elevate positions, superior races or special nationalities – but looking for people like the Gentiles woman, me and you who will look past their obvious weaknesses, who “do what is right,” and to press on with faith come to Jesus and “fall at his feet.”
I mean, “dogs” are welcome to Jesus!

She went home and found her child lying on the bed;
the demon had indeed gone out of her” (Mark 7:30)
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