In the second half of Mark 7, we find two healing stories. The first involves the Syrophoenician Woman and her little daughter who suffers from an unclean spirit. The second, a man from the Decapolis region, who could not hear and spoke with an impediment. In both stories, Jesus’ words and actions are controversial and unconventional. Talk of crumbs and the use of spit deviate from Jesus’ typical pattern of authoritative, uncomplicated healings found earlier in the Gospel. Why have things suddenly gotten so complicated? What separates these stories from the ones that came before? What happens when the path to healing is not the path we expected?
- Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9
- Psalm 125
- James 2:1-17
- Mark 7:24-37
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus Cures a Deaf Man
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’