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Study in Mark’s Gospel

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  1. Study in Mark’s Gospel Presentation 23

  2. Faith Is The Key Chap 7v24-30 Presentation 23

  3. Introduction Do you enjoy doing word puzzles? It's not always the most relaxing pastime! A great deal of time can be spent looking for a crucial, key word, which is going unlock the mystery of the puzzle. Christianity is, to many people, a puzzle they can't solve. 'What is it all about?,’ they ask. In our last study we saw that the Pharisees had developed a religion that papered over the cracks. It was more taken up with an external ceremonial than with the kind of people they were on the inside. The passionate concern of God is with what goes on inside a man. Presentation 23

  4. Introduction God doesn't respond to a formal, slot machine religion, whereby people feed in a number of religious duties as payment and then they pull the lever and expect God to deliver whatever they ask! What does God respond to? The passage before us makes it abundantly clear that will respond to a genuine, living faith. This is the key to the blessing of Christianity. This is the basis of a right relationship with God. A failure to grasp this fundamental truth causes Christ to remain an unsolvable puzzle to countless men and women. Presentation 23

  5. A Persevering Faith The word ‘faith’ is used regularly in the religious vocabulary of many, who at the same time seem to have no practical experience of it. Faith is something you practice! It is something you exercise. It is not simply a mental form of assent that says, 'I believe God exists'. Faith involves committing ourselves wholeheartedly to the God in whom we profess to believe. Genuine faith perseveres! It doesn't give up on God! It doesn't loose interest in worship. It doesn't look for the first excuse to ditch God in favour of some other pursuit. Presentation 23

  6. A Persevering Faith Faith does not argue that sore circumstances make our neglect of God justifiable. Domestic difficulties, a chronic illness, a sore bereavement will test the genuineness and stickabilityof our faith. They place it under the microscope. The Syro-Phoenician women is a prime example of this. Consider her domestic situation. The daughter she loved was in awful bondage to demonic forces, how this came about we are not told and is not crucial to the story. Her daughter's condition is only one of many discouragements that her faith was to experience before it eventually bore fruit. Presentation 23

  7. The Timing Of Her Approach Jesus had withdrawn from the land of Israel and taken his disciples into the region of Tyrev24 . He was keeping on the move. Had he stayed in one place for too long, he would have become a sitting target for the Pharisees. He was working to his Father's time-scale and so he would not lay down his life until HE was ready to do so. Jesus wanted his presence in Tyre to be kept secret, perhaps in order to have some time to rest and relax with his disciples, something that was increasingly difficult to do within the confines of Israel. But even in that foreign land Jesus reputation had gone before him. Jesus 'could not be hid'. Presentation 23

  8. The Timing Of Her Approach Jesus was readily identifiable- not that there were posters with his likeness hanging on every town wall. How was he identified? John tells us that he was 'full of grace and truth‘ Jn 1v14. The sheer winsomeness of his character couldn't be hid. And his presence drew out this woman. But she is met with a 'do not disturb' sign hung on Jesus’ door by a bunch of fishermen. These Galilean heavies were doing all in their power to make it difficult for anyone to get through to Jesus. Do she heave a sigh of resignation and turn away thinking, 'It was a silly idea to expect help from Jesus'? No she kept her finger on the doorbell! Presentation 23

  9. The Timing Of Her Approach She stood up to the solid wall of hostility that the disciples had built around Jesus. They found her continual appeals wearing and 'begged Jesus to send her away‘ Matt. 15v23. Two important applications need to be made. First, do we allow discouragements to keep us from God? Are we too easily persuaded that he is not interested in us and that the timing of your approach to him is all wrong? Do we decide to put off coming to God until a later date? Secondly, do we allow the followers of Jesus to discourage us from pressing through to him? Unbelievers sometimes sense a resentment, a hostility, a coldness that is designed to keep them outside of Jesus’ circle. Presentation 23

  10. The Timing Of Her Approach Persevering faith refuses to be put off by the way in which others treat us. It does not give up and say, 'Well if he or she is an example of Christianity I want to have nothing to do with it’. A further application is for those who are followers of Jesus. Do we make it easy or difficult for people who want Jesus’ help? Not all faith is strong and persevering. Do we encourage those who come with weak, struggling faith or pour cold water upon all their expectations? Do we close ranks upon the needy outside and say to Jesus, 'Lord send them away‘? Or, do we open our hearts to them and make them feel welcome? Presentation 23

  11. A Woman With A Past Not only had this woman to contend with the disciples, but also with her past. She belonged to an idolatrous Gentile nation abhorrent to the Jews. Jezebel, a princess from Tyre, had introduced idolatry in a grand scale to Israel, when she married King Ahab. The Syro Phoenician’s pedigree was against her. It would have been beneath the dignity of any Jewish rabbi to speak to such a woman. But still she came to Jesus. She was persuaded that his grace was greater than her past. She addressed Jesus by his Messianic title Matt.15v22. She saw Jesus as God's promised deliverer. How much she understood we do not know. But when a person begins to exercise faith they see spiritual realities much more clearly than ever before. Presentation 23

  12. A Woman With A Past Everyone who comes to Jesus has a past history and if we were to stop and think about, who we are and what we've done, we would never dare approach him. We all can find skeletons in our cupboards. If we listen to the accusing voice of conscience we would certainly conclude that our past is against us and that would halt us dead in our tracks. Is that how you feel? Would you not dare approach Jesus? Then you need to be persuaded that God's grace is greater than your background and your past. Presentation 23

  13. A Personal Rebuff But the greatest discouragement of all must surely have been Jesus' response in v27... This reply to the woman’s determined faith has perplexed many students of scripture. Why does Jesus speak in this way? First, he is reminding her of the primary focus of his mission. His work of salvation was to begin with the Jewish nation. The gospel ‘was to the Jew first’. Her reply makes it clear that she was not trying to altar Jesus’ mission priority. However, the fact that salvation was to the Jew first did not mean that there could be no blessing for the Gentile nations. Presentation 23

  14. A Personal Rebuff She saw with greater clarity than the Jews that Jesus was the Saviour of the world. Armed with this knowledge she presses home her claim. And using Jesus metaphor she says, 'I may only come into the category of a household pet, but I'm your pet and as such I dare to believe that you will feed me just as you have fed your children. I'm not to proud to accept the scraps of grace. For what you call scraps will meet my need’. She had not been offended by Jesus words! There are many sensitive skins nursing minor irritations. A word or action has soured a person's relationship with God. But this woman is saying to Jesus, ‘No matter how you rate me, and I agree I don't rate very highly, I still trust you and believe you will help.’ Presentation 23

  15. A Personal Rebuff Jesus’ apparently harsh words serve a second purpose. He is concerned not to be treated as a mere miracle worker, a medicine man, some kind of magician! By speaking in this way Jesus was testing the nature of the woman's faith. Alistair McLean has written a thriller entitled 'Fear is the Key'. The book, among other things, touches upon the way in which fear can paralyse and freeze human responses. Fear is intimidating that is why it is the favoured weapon of evil men. But Jesus is not a terror monger. He is not out to paralyse us but looks instead to develop a correct response to him. For Jesus, 'Faith is the key!' Presentation 23

  16. A Personal Rebuff The woman gave Jesus the answer he was looking for. It revealed a deep personal devotion and the firm determination to enter into the privileges of faith! Jesus had not closed the door on her faith. What Jesus did was allow her to put her shoulder to he door in order to demonstrate how strong and genuine her faith really was. It was strong enough and real enough to open the door! She went home to find her daughter healed just as Jesus said. Presentation 23

  17. A Personal Rebuff Does it seem to you that at times Jesus is dealing with you harshly? Does he seem to stand aloof? Then you need to ask, 'Is he wanting to see how genuine and strong my faith is?' Is he testing me and pressing me to reveal my utter confidence in him despite appearances to the contrary? The great discovery that Jesus wants us all to make in our lives is whether or not we are possessors of a persevering faith that refuses to let him go until he blesses. Presentation 23

  18. Conclusion Now place the reaction of this Gentile woman beside the reaction of the Pharisees in the previous verses. This woman's faith shines against the dark backcloth of Pharisaical unbelief. All their religious education and efforts to keep to the traditions of the elders had blinded them to what this simple foreign woman saw - Jesus was able to bring salvation to her and her family! The Pharisees would have crossed the street rather than speak with this woman. But is was she, and not they, who by the exercise of faith crossed over into the blessing of God. She discovered that Faith in Jesus is the key! Presentation 23