A Gentile Mother’s Plea | Mark 7:24–26

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.

Jesus heads northward, perhaps to retreat with the disciples to teach them, seeking to avoid public ministry when they meet this mother.  Tyre was a port city in Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon), then called Syria.  Since there were also Phoenicians in North Africa, this woman is called a Syrophoenician, a Phoenician from Hellenized (Greek-speaking) Syria.  She’s not Jewish, so her faith-filled plea is a teaching opportunity for the disciples.

First, she comes to Jesus with scriptural understanding.  How much she knows isn’t stated, but what she does is startling.  In Matthew 15:22, she calls Him the “Son of David,” a thoroughly biblical term.  She also acknowledges His rule by declaring Him kurios (both in Mt 15:22 and here in v. 30), the Greek term used in the Septuagint for God.  Therefore, she has insight into His true nature from the Holy Scriptures, an insight that puts the unaware disciples to shame.

She responds with worship.  He never rebukes her for it, though He does challenge her as a foreigner (see the emphasis in v. 26).  Still, it demonstrates the high level of faith she’s expressing.  Indeed, in Mt 15:28, Jesus is also reported saying, “O woman, great is your faith!”  It’s a faith first built from Scripture.

Second, she comes to Jesus with a parental plea.  As Matthew Henry puts it, “The greatest blessing we can ask of Christ for our children is, that he would break the power of Satan, that is, the power of sin, in their souls; and particularly, that he would cast forth the unclean spirit, that they may be temples of the Holy Ghost, and he may dwell in them.”[1]

Parents often seek Jesus for their children, and He cannot remain hidden from those seeking Him.  He is discovered in the pages of Holy Scripture, and our pleas for our children (or anyone else) should be biblical.  May we who have His Word so available not fail to bring our requests to Him in scriptural faith! 

[1] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 1793.

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