Lesson 8: Mark- Chapter 7
First read Mark 7 all the way through.
The ‘Supernatural’ Acts and Events in Mark 7
Things you don’t see everyday:
-Jesus cast out a demon from a girl at a distance.
-Deaf & mute man is healed by Jesus.
Notes and Commentary:
I. Jesus vs. Pharisees & Their Traditions -Verses 1-23
Groups of Pharisees & Rabbis were sent by the religious leaders in Jerusalem to investigate the ministry of Jesus who had become quite famous.
An earlier group had claimed that Jesus was possessed & casting out demons by the prince of demons (3:22). The group here in chapter 7 was critical of the disciples for not washing before they ate.
This did not really violate God’s scriptural Law, but did transgress the ritual & oral ‘traditions’ of the elders about fulfilling the Law. It is obvious that they were intent upon finding some kind offence or charge against Jesus & his disciples and anything would do.
Verses 6-8: Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 and applies it to his critics & concludes that they have abandoned the commands of God for the mere ‘traditions of men.’
Verses 9-13: The crowd was probably somewhat perplexed. Jesus responds with an example here, demonstrating how some of the ‘traditions of the Elders’ actually violated the real intent of God’s Law.
Jesus points out that, while their rabbinical traditions might seem to fulfill the ‘letter’ of the Law, their motives behind their actions might be questionable and not so pure to the point of nullifying the real intent of God’s commands. I would be surprised if one of the more pious critics present hadn’t actually done the very thing that Jesus gives as an example here.
Verses 14-23: There are all sorts of regulations in the Mosaic Law about things which make one religiously ‘unclean’; for example-touching dead bodies or dead animals.
Jesus seems to be running counter to those biblical teaching. However, Jesus is teaching that the inward ‘spiritual’ condition and motives of a person is as important as some external form or rule. What comes out of a person is determined by ones heart or ones ‘spiritual’ attitude.
Jesus was consistent in teaching that one’s thoughts were just as important to control as one’s actions. Evil begins ‘inside’ with one’s thinking–this is what makes one really religiously ‘unclean’ according to Jesus.
The disciples needed Jesus to explain it to them since they were probably shocked by his teaching since it seemed to contradict prevailing religious thought & practice which emphasized only external actions and deeds that could be seen by others.
Verse 16: “If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” is not included in most modern translations, because the earliest manuscripts do not have it. Most modern Biblical scholars believe that it was a scribal addition reflecting 4:9 and 4:23.)
II. The Faith of a Gentile Woman -Verses 24-30
Verses 24-26: Jesus goes to Tyre for some needed down time with his disciples only. Soon the people find out that he is there and a local Gentile lady shows up & begs for him to cast a demon out of her daughter.
Verse 27: Jesus is intent on ministering only to the ‘children’ of Israel or closely related people who were believers in the one God of the Bible. This lady and her daughter were Gentiles who may have even worshipped the traditional ‘gods’ of that region. The response of the woman shows that she has faith in Jesus and is rewarded with the healing of her daughter. After all, even pet dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall under the table.
It is hard for us to understand why Jesus seemed to reject the woman. Today the teaching of Jesus goes to every nation and people and he is the savior of all who believe in him regardless of whether they are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, or men and women (Gal, 3:26-29). But Jesus was specifically sent to Israel as the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy concerning that nation and people.
Later Peter and Paul and the Apostles were sent to the whole world after Jesus was rejected and crucified by his own people and nation. Even then, the apostles went first to peach and minister to the Jews and their synagogues everywhere they went and then later to everyone else.
III. The Healing of the Deaf/Mute Man –Verses 31-37
Verse 33: It is interesting that Jesus take the man away from the crowd and privately ministers to him. Many have tried to mimic the methods that Jesus uses in healing. Here, Jesus puts his fingers into the guy’s ear, and spits and touches the man’s tongue. Quite a scene. An interesting technique, but if you take the time to catalog all of the actions of Jesus when he is healing, it is interesting to note that he seems to do something somewhat different every time.
Verses 36-37: Jesus continually tries to keep many of his miracles & healings secret, but the people cannot help but talk about what he has done, and his fame continues to spread. The ministry of Jesus is deemed to be amazing & very ‘good’ by all who observed him, just as creation was observed to be ‘good’ by the Creator (Gen.1:4).
Today we might question why Jesus wanted his victories to be secret. Wouldn’t it have been better to tell everyone about the miracles and healings in order to increase the number of believers in his ministry?
However, Jesus was in a far better position than us to know what possible consequences an increase of his fame might bring. He was concerned that the religious leaders might try to have him killed before his time. Also, if crowds of people had rallied and named him as their secular or military leader than the Romans might have stepped in to shut it all down before his ministry was completed.
-Read: Mark 8 for the next lesson.