Mark 7:24-37 (ESV)

24 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. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 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.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Jesus traveled into the regions of Tyre and Sidon, which were northwest of Capernaum. Tyre and Sidon were not inhabited by many Jews and would have been considered “Gentile territory.” Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with his disciples, teaching them. But the fact that Jesus was in town, even in a Gentile area, didn’t go unnoticed. As soon as a Syrophoenician, Gentile woman heard, she was there to beg Jesus for relief. Her daughter was demon-possessed, and she knew that Jesus had the power to help. When she asked Jesus for assistance, he let her know that he was there for the purpose of teaching his disciples (the children). There just wasn’t enough time to feed the “pets” (dogs) too. This wasn’t quite as derogatory as it sounds. Jesus was simply stating to her, in a way she would understand, that his agenda with his own followers didn’t allow time for her daughter. She wasn’t offended, and replied to Jesus with, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She affirmed to Jesus that he didn’t need to interrupt his plans because even a “crumb” of his grace was enough for her daughter’s healing. Jesus was impressed. He told the woman her daughter was delivered.

Can you imagine a demon possessing your child? How painful it must have been for this woman to watch her daughter, day after day, tormented by an unclean spirit. Surely, she called out to God for deliverance. At the same time, what would Jesus, a Jewish man, have to do with a Gentile woman? The rabbis of the day would never converse with a woman like her. Jesus reveals through this encounter that gender and ethnicity are not barriers to him. The woman simply expressed her desire and her full confidence in the fact that Jesus could deliver. His grace could meet the needs of his disciples and her need at the same time. What great faith! Do you ever limit what God can do? Do you look at situations or people and think, “No way. God can’t help there.” That’s not true! Jesus is fully capable of meeting all needs. Think “outside the box” today and begin to imagine how God could change the lives and circumstances of those around you. Then ask him in faith to make those changes. And if you don’t have faith, ask for that too!