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Mark’s first-century biography – page 22

And from there he (Jesus of Nazareth) arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

From there? From near the Sea of Galilee around AD 30 in territory which in earlier centuries (BC) was (and today is) part of the land of Israel. The Tyre and Sidon region was non-Israel and Tyre was a Phoenician port.

And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 

He did not want a following. But anybody could call on him. Anybody.

But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 

This is a mother who cares deeply for her daughter who (not explained fully to us readers) is “unclean inside her living being” and “sorely troubled”.

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.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 

Who are “the children”? The people of Israel for whom Jesus was Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek). Who are “the dogs”? Those not of Israel. This dear mother is happy to be a dog if a dog can receive the crumbs which the children leave behind. 

‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’ (Jesus Christ to Israelites) 
And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. 

Mum had called on Jesus – with absolutely nothing to give to him – and her daughter had received cleansing and new life within.

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 

Jesus walks through non-Israel territory to a non-Israel region noted for its ten self-governing city-states – the Decapolis. (Deca=ten; polis=city)

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. 

This time it’s merely “they” and not a mother. And it’s merely a man – a non-Israel man – not a daughter. It’s a nobody brought by nobodies. In fact Mark used two Greek adjectives to describe him: kophon (from a root meaning “cut off”); mogilalon (“hardly talking”).

There mat be a hint here that, given that the 10 Commandments (which, since the time of Jesus have become the basis of law and order in Jersey) were given to the people of Israel, this man at that time had no concept of God’s justice and mercy. But things were to change for him.

And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 

Opened ears to hear the good news. The power of speech – the ability to tell others – given to this non-Israelite, instantly.

‘Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?’ (Jesus Christ to his disciples) 
And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Who are the “they”? The same people who had brought this stricken man to Jesus? It would seem so. They are totally astonished about the fact that every single thing that Jesus does is excellently good.

Is there any other person, past or present, who has surprised you to that extent?

Sinner Syvret

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