Mark Chapter 7

Mar 7:1 MKJV  And the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.

Having come from Jerusalem: This was another “official delegation” of religious leaders from Jerusalem, coming to evaluate the ministry of Jesus. We saw a previous delegation in Mar_3:22, and they pronounced a harsh, condemning judgment against Jesus. This delegation from Jerusalem has already made up their mind about Jesus. Now they are just trying to “pin” something on Him.

The concept of evaluating Jesus’ ministry was fine. In outward appearance, these men were protecting Israel from a potential false prophet or false messiah. But they way they actually evaluated Jesus was all wrong. First, they already made up their mind about Jesus. Second, they did not evaluate Jesus against the measure of God’s Word. The evaluated Him against the measure of their religious traditions. (Guzik)

Are you guilty of coming together about a matter with your minds already made up before you start?

Mar 7:2 MKJV  And when they saw some of His disciples eating loaves with unclean hands, that is with unwashed hands, they found fault.

Jerusalem was alarmed at the new movement resulting from the mission of the Twelve, their miracles, and the mighty works which He Himself had lately wrought. And a deputation of Pharisees and scribes came from this center of ecclesiastical prejudice, to bring Him to account. They do not assail His doctrine, nor charge Him with violating the law itself, for He had put to shame their querulous complaints about the sabbath day. But tradition was altogether upon their side: it was a weapon ready sharpened for their use against one so free, unconventional and fearless.

The law had imposed certain restrictions upon the chosen race, restrictions which were admirably sanitary in their nature, while aiming also at preserving the isolation of Israel from the corrupt and foul nations which lay around. All such restrictions were now about to pass away, because religion was to become aggressive, it was henceforth to invade the nations from whose inroads it had heretofore sought a covert. But the Pharisees had not been content even with the severe restrictions of the law. They had not regarded these as a fence for themselves against spiritual impurity, but as an elaborate and artificial substitute for love and trust. And therefore, as love and spiritual religion faded out of their hearts they were the more jealous and sensitive about the letter of the law. They “fenced” it with elaborate rules, and precautions against accidental transgressions, superstitiously dreading an involuntary infraction of its minutest details. Certain substances were unclean food. But who could tell whether some atom of such substance, blown about in the dust of summer, might adhere to the hand with which he ate, or the cups and pots whence his food was drawn? Moreover, the Gentile nations were unclean, and it was not possible to avoid all contact with them in the market-places, returning whence, therefore, every devout Jew was careful to wash himself, which washing, though certainly not an immersion, is here plainly called a baptism. Thus an elaborate system of ceremonial washing, not for cleansing, but as a religious precaution, had grown up among the Jews. (Expositor’s)

The Pharisees laid great stress on ritual. They followed endless rules, both intricate and troublesome, as to ablutions and outward ceremonials. So long as their devotees were careful in the minor observances, they were permitted a wide license so far as the weightier matters of the Law were concerned. This is a natural tendency of the human heart. It is glad to be able to reduce its religious life to an outward and literal obedience, if only its thoughts may be unhampered. In the life of true holiness everything depends on the control of the thoughts. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” With infinite wisdom the wise man said, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life,” and Jesus put “evil-thoughts” first in the black category of the contents of the evil heart. A gang of thieves sometimes put a very small boy through a tiny window that he may unlock the front door. So one evil thought will often admit an entire crew of evil. Heart of mine, hast thou learned this lesson? Art thou careful enough of thy cleanliness? That the hands should be often washed, that vessels of household use should be kept cleansed, that there should be decorum and neatness in the outward life, all these customs are good. But it becomes thee to inquire whether thou art not more eager for the outward than the inward cleanliness. “Create in me a clean heart,” should be thy constant prayer. (Meyer)

But eat bread with unwashed hands: The religious leaders speak of elaborate ceremonial washings, not washing for the sake of cleanliness. The observant Jews of that time strictly observed a rigid, extensive ritual for washing before meals.

The hand-washing described here was purely ceremonial. It wasn’t enough to properly clean your hands if they were very dirty. You would have to first wash your hands to make them clean, then perform the ritual to make them spiritually clean. But why would they ever have such traditions?

ii. They even had an accompanying prayer to be said during the ritual washing: “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, King of the universe, who sanctified us by the laws and commanded us to wash the hands.” (Cited in Lane) (Guzik)

Are your traditions more important than the Word of God?

Are there things that you practice in your religious belief that are not founded on scripture? Do you look down on others who do not follow your traditions?

Mar 7:3 MKJV  For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they immerse their hands with the fist, holding the tradition of the elders.

Wash their hands — Consuming much time, and burdensome on the poor, who had no servants to do these things for them, and not doing them, were considered unclean. Had become an important part of the Jewish observance though nowhere found in the Law. It was the making of such formal washing a part of their religion that Jesus objected to.

Tradition of the elders — Jesus suited none of them. To the impure he was too pure; to those of hypocritical profession he was too sincere; to the worldly-wise he was too frank. Shaping their lives by the Talmud; so many Christians today, while recognizing the Bible have their own theory, proof-texts and catechism. The theories and opinions that had been formed and handed down from the past that were not based upon the inspired testimonies of the prophets. (Russell)

holding the tradition of the elders: For these ceremonial washings, special stone vessels of water were kept, because ordinary water might be unclean. To wash your hands in a special way, you started by taking at least enough of this water to fill one and one-half egg shells. Then, you poured the water over your hands, starting at the fingers and running down towards your wrist. Then you cleansed each palm by rubbing the fist of the other hand into it. Then you poured water over your hands again, this time from the wrist towards the fingers.

i. A really strict Jew would do this not only before the meal, but also between each course.

ii. The rabbis were deadly serious about this. They said that bread eaten with unwashed hands was no better than excrement. One rabbi who once failed to perform the ritual washing was excommunicated. Another rabbi was imprisoned by the Romans, and he used his ration of water for ceremonial cleansing instead of drinking, nearly dying of thirst. He was regarded as a great hero for this sacrifice.

iii. If they were as concerned about cleansing their hearts as they were about their hands, they would be more godly men! We always want to think there is some ritual we can do to cleanse ourselves.

iv. It’s easy for us to think these religious leaders, or this whole religious culture was really stupid and phony for their emphasis on traditions like this. But we don’t realize how subtly these things emerge, and how spiritual they seem to be, especially in the beginning. Many rituals or traditions seem to be built on unshakable spiritual logic:

• Doesn’t God want us to honor Him in everything we do?
• Didn’t God command the priests to wash their hands before serving Him?
• Shouldn’t every faithful follower of God have the same devotion as a priest?
• Isn’t every meal sacred to God?
• Shouldn’t we take every opportunity to make ourselves pure before the Lord?
• Doesn’t God say, Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart (Psa_24:3-4)?

When the questions are put this way, it’s easy to say “Yes, yes, yes,” until you have agreed with the logic supporting the tradition. But if in the end you have a word of man, a tradition of man, a ritual of man, that has the same weight as the Word of God, you’re wrong. Your “spiritual logic” doesn’t matter. You’re wrong. (Guzik)

Do you have traditions like the Pharisees?

Do you look down on others who don’t keep your traditions?

Mar 7:4 MKJV  And coming from the market, they do not eat without immersing, and there are many other things which they have received to hold, the dippings of cups and pots, and of copper vessels, and of tables.

Mar 7:5 MKJV  Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat loaves with unwashed hands?

These washings were commanded by tradition, not by Scripture. The religious leaders knew this, yet they still criticized the disciples for not obeying these traditions.

i. In Judaism of that time, they honored the Scriptures – what we would call the Old Testament – as the written law. But there was also the oral law, which was written down, but was man’s tradition and interpretation on top of the written law. Many Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time honored the oral law even more than the written law.

ii. “Rabbi Eleazer said, ‘He who expounds the Scriptures in opposition to the tradition has no share in the world to come’ . . . The Mishna, a collection of Jewish traditions in the Talmud, records, ‘It is a greater offense to teach anything contrary to the voice of the Rabbis than to contradict Scripture itself.’“ (Wiersbe)

iii. “The Jews have several ordinary sayings, that show in what esteem they had these traditions, as If the scribes say our right hand is our left, and our left hand is our right, we are to believe them. And, There is more in the words of the scribes than the words of the law . . . The Jewish Rabbi Jose saith, He sinneth as much as who eateth with unwashen hands, as he that lieth with an harlot.” (Trapp)

iv. “There had grown up a great body of traditions; traditions which in the first place were intended to be interpretations of the law, and applications of the law to local circumstances; traditions which in the second place became interpretations of traditions, and applications of traditions; and the traditions in the third place, which were interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of traditions!” (Morgan)

v. What a person says never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if they sincerely say it is from God, it never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if everyone accepts it, it never has the same authority as God’s Word. Even if it makes perfect sense, it never has the same authority as God’s Word.

vi. “It was Jesus’ failure to support the validity of the oral law which made him an object of concerted attack by the scribes.” (Lane) (Guzik)

Are you getting the message?

Mar 7:6 MKJV  But He answered and said to them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

Why was Jesus so stern in His reply? Because the leaders were far too concerned with trivial matters like ritual washing. When they focused on these trivial traditions, they excluded everyone who didn’t keep the traditions, and so they discouraged them from coming to God.

i. The Living Bible paraphrases Isaiah’s quote: These people speak very prettily about the Lord but they have no love for Him at all. Their worship is a farce, for they claim God commands the people to obey their petty rules.

b. This people honors Me with their lips: Yes, they honored God with their lips; but in fact, God said of them their heart is far from Me. It is possible to have the image of being religious or spiritual, but actually be far from God. This was exactly the case with these religious leaders.

i. This is the whole idea behind the word hypocrite. The word in the ancient Greek language referred to “an actor” or “someone who wears a mask.” The image they promote is more important to them than what they actually are.

ii. Would God say something similar to us?

• “They attend church, but their heart is far from Me
• “They read their Bible, but their heart is far from Me
• “They pray eloquently, but their heart is far from Me
• “They contribute money, but their heart is far from Me
• “They do ministry, but their heart is far from Me
• “They love to sing, but their heart is far from Me
• “They talk to others about Jesus, but their heart is far from Me” (Guzik)

With their lips — “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” (Exo_20:7) “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Ti_2:19)

Heart is far from me — The Lord regards anything short of simple candor and honesty of heart with aversion. (Russell)

Where is your heart?

Mar 7:7 MKJV  However, they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men: This is one of the pillars of legalism. Taking a commandment or opinion of men, and teaching or promoting it as a doctrine from God is what supports legalism. It gives man’s word the same weight as God’s word.

If I say, “In my opinion, you should no longer eat hamburgers from MacDonald’s” then you are free to say “That’s a nice opinion, now leave me alone.” But when someone says, “God says you should no longer eat hamburgers from MacDonald’s” then they make it seem like you are opposing God if you don’t do as they say.

Not everything in the Christian life is a matter of right and wrong. Some things – many things – are simply matters of personal conscience before God. The Scriptures do not command ritual washing before meals. If you want to do it, then fine. Do it unto the Lord, and without a sense of spiritual superiority before your brothers and sisters. If don’t want to do it, fine also. Don’t do it unto the Lord, and don’t look down upon those whose conscience compels them to do the ritual washing. (Guzik)

Are you guilty of trying to make your doctrinal or prophetic understanding something people have to agree with in order to have fellowship with you?

For example—are you guilty of not fellowshipping or even listening to another’s point of view on prophetic matters—(say you believe the Plagues of Revelation are poured out and someone else thinks they are all future)?

Mar 7:8 MKJV  For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the dippings of pots and cups. And many other such things you do.

Mar 7:9 MKJV  And He said to them, Do you do well to set aside the commandment of God, so that you may keep your own tradition?

You reject the commandment of God: This is another pillar of legalism. It would be bad enough to add the commandments of men to the word of God. But almost without fail, the legalist or religious hypocrite goes the next step – to reject the commandment of God and to keep your tradition. In doing this, they subtract the real essence and focus of God’s word.

i. “He made it perfectly clear first of all that the tradition of man misses its own aim. Men are still defiled, wash they ever so often.” (Morgan)

ii. “To the spiritual mind, it is a question of unceasing wonder that men should be so ready to follow and even fearlessly contend for the authority of human traditions, while they are just as ready to ignore the plain teachings of the Word of God.” (Ironside) (Guzik)

The tradition of men — While professing great Bible study, it is in ruts and grooves, and so hampered by creed-chains that progress or growth, or Bible-rearing is impossible.

Reject the commandment — Both Jesus and the Pharisees claimed holiness and strict observance of the divine Law, but Jesus held to the Word of God and rejected the Talmud, and the Pharisees neglected the Word of God and held to the traditions. Comparatively few of the “common people” of Christendom realize how thoroughly the Word of God has already been rejected by the leading Doctors of theology. (Russell)

Are you guilty of choosing the words of men over the Word of God?

Mar 7:10 MKJV  For Moses said, “Honor your father and your mother.” And, “Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death.”

honour thy father and thy mother, Exo_20:12, the sanction of which law is, and whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death, Exo_21:17. As the former of these commands is to be understood, not only of honouring parents in thought, word, and deed, but also of providing for them, when in want and distress, through poverty and old age; so the latter is to be interpreted, not merely of wishing or imprecating the most dreadful things upon parents, which some may not be guilty of, and yet transgress this command; but likewise of every slight put upon them, and neglect of them, when in necessitous circumstances: and both these laws were broken by the Jews, through their tradition hereafter mentioned. (Gill)

Are you providing for your parents?

How often do you spend time or attention on them?

Now while the world is in quarantine do you take the time to call or send a letter to those of your family who are isolated?

Mar 7:11 MKJV  But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, Corban! (that is, A gift to God, whatever you may profit by me)

Mar 7:12 MKJV  and you no longer allow him to do anything toward his father or mother,

Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban: In this practice, a son could say that his possessions or savings were Corban – that is, specially devoted to God – and therefore unavailable to help his parents.

He shall be free — The commandment had been changed by the Talmud and any man might be free from honoring his parents by consecrating himself and substance to God and religious uses. (Russell)
This is the form of a vow, which a man having made on purpose, to free himself from the charge of the maintenance of his parents, when reduced, repeats unto them; or which he makes upon their application to him: various forms of this kind of vows, which see: this was not the form of an oath, or swearing by Corban, or the sacred treasury in the temple, mentioned in Mat_27:6, of which I do not remember any instance; nor was it a dedication of his substance to holy and religious uses; to the service of God and the temple; but it was a vow he made, that what he had, should be as Corban, as a gift devoted to sacred uses: that as that could not be appropriated to any other use, so his substance, after such a vow, could not be applied to the relief of his parents; though he was not obliged by it to give it for the use of the temple, but might keep it himself, or bestow it upon others. (Gill)

Do you find ways to get out of your obligations?

Mar 7:13 MKJV  making the Word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have delivered. And you do many such things.

Through this, a son could completely disobey the command to honor your father or mother, and do it while being ultra-religious. Jesus called this making the word of God of no effect through your tradition. (Guzik)

Making the word of God of none effect, through your tradition,…. Beza says, in his most ancient copy it is read, “your foolish tradition”; and such it was indeed, that a vow made rashly, and in a passion, or if ever so deliberately entered into, should be more binding upon a man than the law of God; that rather than break this, he should transgress a divine command; and that though he might see his folly, and repent of his sin in making such a wicked vow, he could not go back from it, without the permission of a wise man: should his poor distressed parents come to him for assistance, he was obliged to answer them, that he had bound himself by a vow, that they should receive no advantage from his substance; and should they remonstrate to him the command of God, to honour them and take care of them, and observe that that command is enforced by promises and threatenings; he had this to reply, and was instructed to do it, that it was the sense of the wise men and doctors, and agreeably to the traditions of the elders, to which he ought rather to attend, than to the words of the law, that he should keep and fulfil his vow, whatever command was neglected or broken by it.

and many such like things do ye; meaning, that there were many other traditions besides this now mentioned; whereby, instead of preserving the written law, which, they pretended, these were an hedge unto (y), they, in a great many instances, made it void. (Gill)

Jesus, our pattern and teacher, gave no authority for binding ourselves with creeds and traditions. The same is true of Christians today. Each denomination has its own theory, its own proof-texts, its own catechism. (Russell)

Are your “creeds” and “traditions” in harmony with God’s Word or contrary?

Will you continue to follow your “traditions” ?

Mar 7:14 MKJV  And calling near all the crowd, He said to them, Listen to Me, every one of you, and understand.

Mar 7:15 MKJV  There is nothing from outside a man which entering into him can defile him. But the things which come out of him, those are the ones that defile the man.

Mar 7:16 MKJV  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

There is nothing that enters a man from the outside which can defile him: This is not to say that there are not defiling things that we can take into ourselves (such as pornography). But in this specific context, Jesus spoke about ceremonial cleanliness in regard to food, and He anticipated when all foods would be declared kosher (Act_10:15).

b. The things which come out of him, those are things that defile a man: The fundamental principle is simple. Washing with “unclean hands” or any other such thing that we “put into us” is not defiling. Rather, what comes out of us defiles, and reveals that we have unclean (defiled) hearts.

“Although it may not seem so now, this passage, when it was first spoken, was well-nigh the most revolutionary passage in the New Testament.” (Barclay) (Guzik)

but the things which come out of him; the Arabic: version reads, “out of the mouth of man”, as in Mat_15:11, for the things are, all sinful words which proceed from the imaginations and lusts of the heart; as all idle, unchaste, blasphemous, and wrathful words and expressions: and may include evil thoughts, words, and actions; which actions first in thought, take their rise from the corrupt heart of man; and in word, come out of the mouth; and in action, are performed by some one or other of the members of the body: these are

they that defile the man: his mind and conscience, the faculties of his soul, and the members of his body; and render him abominable in the sight of God, and expose him to his wrath and displeasure; See Gill on Mat_15:11. The sense of the whole is, that not what a man eats and drinks, and in whatsoever way he does either, though he may eat and drink with unwashen hands, or out of cups, pots, and platters, not properly washed, according to the traditions of the elders, renders him a polluted sinful man, in the sight of God; or such as one, whose company and conversation are to be, avoided by good men; but that it is sin in the heart, and what proceeds from it; as all evil thoughts, wicked words, and impure actions; which denominate a man filthy and unclean, and expose him to the abhorrence of God, and of his people…The Ethiopic version renders it, “it is not what enters from without into the mouth of man, which can defile him; but only what goes out of the heart man, this defiles the man”: the Persic version adds, “and is the sin of death”; or sin unto death, a deadly, mortal sin. (Gill)

What is in your heart?

Mar 7:17 MKJV  And when He had entered into the house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.

Mar 7:18 MKJV  And He said to them, Are you also without understanding? Do you not perceive that whatever enters into the man from outside cannot defile him,

Mar 7:19 MKJV  because it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the waste-bowl, purifying all food?

Mar 7:20 MKJV  And He said, That which comes out of the man is what defiles the man.

 (Mar_7:17-23) Jesus speaks to His disciples about religious externalism.

Are you thus without understanding also? In response to the parable, Jesus amplifies the point made to the multitudes. We are defiled from the inside out rather than from the outside in, and this is particularly true of ceremonial things like foods. (Guzik)

 The parable – The “obscure” and difficult remarks which he had made in Mar_7:15. The word “parable,” here, means “obscure” and “difficult saying.” They could not understand it. They had probably imbibed many of the popular notions of the Pharisees, and they could not understand why a man was not defiled by external things. It was, moreover, a doctrine of the law that men were ceremonially polluted by contact with dead bodies, etc., and they could not understand how it could be otherwise.

Entereth not into his heart – Does not reach or affect the “mind,” the “soul,” and consequently cannot pollute it. Even if it should affect the “body,” yet it cannot the “soul,” and consequently cannot need to be cleansed by a religious ordinance. The notions of the Pharisees, therefore, are not founded in reason, but are mere “superstition.”
The draught (KJV) (The Waste-bowl) – The sink, the vault. “Purging all meats.” The word “purging,” here, means to purify, to cleanse. What is thrown out of the body is the innutritious part of the food taken into the stomach, and leaving only that which is proper for the support of life; and it cannot, therefore, defile the soul.

All meals – All food; all that is taken into the body to support life. The meaning is, that the economy or process by which life is supported “purifies” or “renders nutritious” all kinds of food. The unwholesome or innutritious parts are separated, and the wholesome only are taken into the system.

Hat which cometh out of the man – His words; the expression of his thoughts and feelings; his conduct, as the development of inward malice, anger, covetousness, lust, etc.
Defileth the man – Makes him really polluted or offensive in the sight of God. This renders the soul corrupt and abominable in his sight. See Mat_15:18-20.

Are you “without understanding” as were the Apostles?

Are you hung up on Kosher (according to the Law) and unkosher foods?

Mar 7:21 MKJV  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

Evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications: This is a thirteen-part list that exposes the kind of evil that lives in the human heart. You don’t need to travel a long distance to find the source of these sins. You don’t need to conduct an exhaustive search. All you need to do is look at your own heart. “The source from which these rivers of pollution proceed is the natural heart of man. Sin is not a splash of mud upon man’s exterior, it is a filth generated within himself.” (Spurgeon)

  1. “I sicken as I think how man has plagued his fellow-men by his sins. But I will not go through the list, nor need I: the devil has preached upon this text this week, and few have been able to escape the horrible exposition.” (Spurgeon)
  2. There’s a huge danger in looking at this list and saying, “I sure would never do this or that.” If we don’t see the capability of these kind of sins in us, then we are out of touch with the reality of our fallen nature.

Evil thoughts: “Every outward act of sin is preceded by an inward act of choice; therefore Jesus beings with the evil thought from which the evil action comes.” (Barclay)

“Thoughts are the eggs of words and actions, and within the thoughts lie compacted and condensed all the villainy of actual transgressions. If men did but more carefully watch their thoughts, they would not so readily fall into evil habits; but men first indulge the thought of evil, and then the imagination of evil; nor does the process stay there. Picturing it before their mind’s eye, they excite their own desires after it; these grow into a thirst and kindle into a passion.” (Spurgeon)

Are these things in your heart?

Are you trying to clean your heart?

Mar 7:22 MKJV  thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

Evil thoughts (hoi dialogismoi hoi kakoi). These come out of the heart (ek tēs kardias), the inner man, and lead to the dreadful list here given like the crimes of a modern police court:
fornications (porneiai, usually of the unmarried),
adulteries (moichaiai, of the married),
thefts (klopai, stealings),
covetings (pleonexiai, craze for more and more),
murders (phonoi, growing out of the others often),
wickednesses (ponēriai, from ponos, toil, then drudge, bad like our knave, serving boy like German Knabe, and then criminal),
deceit (dolos, lure or snare with bait),
lasciviousness (aselgeia, unrestrained sex instinct),
evil eye (ophthalmos ponēros) or eye that works evil and that haunts one with its gloating stare,
railing (blasphēmia, blasphemy, hurtful speech),
pride (huperēphania, holding oneself above others, stuck up),
foolishness (aphrosunē, lack of sense), a fitting close to it all. (Robertson)

Are any of these in you?

Mar 7:23 MKJV  All these evil things pass out from inside and defile the man.

Blasphemy: “When this is used of words against man, it means slander; when it is used of words against God, it means blasphemy. It means insulting man or God.” (Barclay)

This is a powerful reminder that what God first wants from us is our heart. We can only really be changed before God from the inside out. If the life and the power and the work of God isn’t real in our heart, then it isn’t real at all. (Guzik)

Thus our Lord defended his disciples by a beautiful chain of reasoning, wherein he has shown the true nature of actions, and loaded with perpetual infamy the Jewish teachers and their brood, who in every age and country may be known by features exactly resembling their parents, the main strokes of which are, that by their frivolous superstitions they weaken, and sometimes destroy, the eternal and immutable rules of righteousness.” — (Macknight)

Can you grasp the dangers of “traditions of men”?

Mar 7:24 MKJV  And He arose from there and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered into a house and desired no one to know it. But He could not be hidden.

Jesus traveled some 50 miles to the north to visit these Gentile cities (the region of Tyre and Sidon). This is unusual in Jesus’ ministry, because His focus was on the lost sheep of Israel (Mat_15:24).

  1. It also shows that Jesus did not obey the Jewish traditions that said a faithful Jew would have nothing to do with Gentiles, and would never enter a Gentile’s house.
  2. “The previous incident shows Jesus wiping out the distinction between clean and unclean foods. Can it be that here, in symbol, we have him wiping out the difference between clean and unclean people? Just as a Jew would never soil his lips with forbidden foods, so he would never soil his life by contact with the unclean Gentile.” (Barclay) This was “a concrete example of Jesus’ disregard for the scribal concept of defilement.” (Lane)
  3. Wanted no one to know it: At the same time, Jesus didn’t want to needlessly offend people. He knew that time for breaking down the wall between Jew and Gentile by bringing them into one body (the church) was still in the future. So while not keeping His presence in the region of Tyre and Sidon strictly secret, He did not want it publicized.

But He could not be hidden: It’s a glorious principle – Jesus cannot be hidden. Anytime Jesus is present at all, He finds a way to touch lives, because He cannot be hidden. (Guzik)

of Tyre and Sidon — the two great Phoenician seaports, but here denoting the territory generally, to the frontiers of which Jesus now came. But did Jesus actually enter this heathen territory? The whole narrative, we think, proceeds upon the supposition that He did. His immediate object seems to have been to avoid the wrath of the Pharisees at the withering exposure He had just made of their traditional religion.
and entered into an house, and would have no man know it — because He had not come there to minister to heathens. But though not “sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mat_15:24), He hindered not the lost sheep of the vast Gentile world from coming to Him, nor put them away when they did come – as this incident was designed to show.
but he could not be hid — Christ’s fame had early spread from Galilee to this very region (Mar_3:8; Luk_6:17). (JFB)

Mar 7:25 MKJV  For a woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of Him and came and fell at His feet.

An unclean spirit — Possessed of an evil spirit, a demon–“obsessed.” So far as we have any knowledge, most of these fallen spirits, demons, are unclean, depraved, and their influence upon those possessed by them is an unclean, injurious one.

And came — Prompted by her love for her daughter and her confidence in Jesus.

Fell at his feet — After the custom of the East, so expressive of humility, dependence and entreaty.  (Russell)

Mar 7:26 MKJV  The woman was a Greek, a Syro-phoenician by race. And she begged Him that He would cast the demon out of her daughter.

Our Lord desired to withdraw from the excited crowds who were flocking after Him as a mere miracle-worker and from the hostile espionage of emissaries of the Pharisees, ‘which had come from Jerusalem.’ Therefore He sought seclusion in heathen territory. He, too, knew the need of quiet, and felt the longing to plunge into privacy, to escape for a time from the pressure of admirers and of foes, and to go where no man knew Him. How near to us that brings Him! And how the remembrance of it helps to explain His demeanour to the Syrophcenician woman, so unlike His usual tone! Naturally the presence of Jesus leaked out, and perhaps the very effort to avoid notice attracted it. Rumour would have carried His name across the border, and the tidings of His being among them would stir hope in some hearts that felt the need of His help. Of such was this woman, whom Mark describes first, generally, as a ‘Greek’ (that is, a Gentile), and then particularly as ‘a Syrophcenician by race’; that is, one of that branch of the Phoenician race who inhabited maritime Syria, in contradistinction from the other branch inhabiting North-eastern Africa, Carthage, and its neighbourhood. Her deep need made her bold and persistent, as we learn in detail from Matthew, who is in this narrative more graphic than Mark. He tells us that she attacked Jesus in the way, and followed Him, pouring out her loud petitions, to the annoyance of the disciples. They thought that they were carrying out His wish for privacy in suggesting that it would be best to ‘send her away’ with her prayer granted, and so stop her ‘crying after us,’ which might raise a crowd, and defeat the wish. We owe to Matthew the further facts of the woman’s recognition of Jesus as ‘the Son of David,’ and of the strange ignoring of her cries, and of His answer to the disciples’ suggestion, in which He limited His mission to Israel, and so explained to them His silence to her. Mark omits all these points, and focuses all the light on the two things-Christ’s strange and apparently harsh refusal, and the woman’s answer, which won her cause. (MacLaren)—Matt. 15:21-28

Are you happy with the crumbs?

Mar 7:27 MKJV  But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled. For it is not right to take the children’s loaves and to throw it to the dogs.

Jesus seems to discourage the woman, reminding her that the children (the Jewish people) get priority over the little dogs (Gentiles like her).

i. In that day, Jews often called Gentiles “dogs” in a very derogatory way. “The dog was not the well-loved guardian that it is to-day; more commonly it was the symbol of dishonour. To the Greek, the word dog meant a shameless and audacious woman; it was used exactly with the connotation that we use the word bitch to-day. To the Jews it was equally a term of contempt.” (Barclay)

ii. Yet Jesus did not use the normal word for “dogs.” Instead He softened it into little dogs – essentially, reminding the woman of her place as a Gentile, yet not wanting to push her completely away. “In Greek, diminutives are characteristically affectionate. Jesus took the sting out of the word.” (Barclay)

First be filled — Resisting her, not because he didn’t understand the case, but to draw out her faith, preparatory to the giving of the blessing desired. The Lord may also ignore our petitions to increase our faith and appreciation of the blessing we desire. He may make a test of humility before he responds to our requests.

Unto the dogs — The typically clean Jew called the outsiders “heathen” and “dogs,” and would never eat, marry, nor have any dealings with them. (Joh_4:9) The Gentiles, in comparison to the Jews, were as the dogs of the household.

Not an answer of disdain, contempt or indifference to her woe; but of interest and sympathy, explaining a reason why she was not a proper subject. Had there been pride in the heart, this response would have been sufficient to have put the woman upon her dignity and she would have openly tiraded against the Lord and all Jews as ecclesiastical bigots.

Mar 7:28 MKJV  And she answered and said to Him, Yes, Lord, yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

Mar 7:29 MKJV  And He said to her, For this saying go, the demon has gone out of your daughter.

The woman responds with great faith. First, she accepted her low place before Jesus by not debating the reference to little dogs. Second, she asked Jesus to deal with her on her own low level (even the little dogs under the table eat). She therefore received from Jesus.

i. We need to see the power of coming to God as we are, and letting Him make true His promises to those weak and unclean. If the woman had responded, “Who are you calling a dog?” she would not have received from Jesus what her daughter needed. Her humble, faith-filled submission to Jesus brought the victory.

ii. “Nothing appealed to our blessed Lord more than faith coupled with humility.” (Ironside) Some people come to God with a kind of faith, but without humility. Others come to God with a kind of humility, but without faith. But if the two are combined it is a powerful thing before God. (Guzik)

Yet the dogs — She was willing to confess herself one of the Gentile dogs, with no right to claim healing for her daughter, because not a Jew. With wonderful keenness and humility acknowledging that she was not one of the children who had a right to the Father’s blessing. So she, as a Gentile, might be granted her request, without saying that she was as worthy as a Jew of his mercy and favors. We, too, should persistently hold on to the Lord for the blessings we may be sure he will be pleased to grant in his own due time and way.

The children’s crumbs — That, as an outsider, she might be granted some of the Lord’s favors without in any degree working disadvantage to the Jews, to whom the Lord’s ministry was specially sent and given. In contrast, he has set before us “meat in due season” in great abundance. We need not importune for these; they are ours for the taking. (Russell)

Is your faith as strong as this woman’s?

Mar 7:30 MKJV  And when she had come to her house, she found the demon had gone out, and her daughter lay on the couch.

And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed — But Matthew (Mat_15:28) is more specific; “And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” The wonderfulness of this case in all its features has been felt in every age of the Church, and the balm it has administered, and will yet administer, to millions will be known only in that day that shall reveal the secrets of all hearts. (JFB)

Come to her house — Showing her further faith, in accepting the Master’s word and going to her house. Many today hear the Lord’s word assuring them their sins are forgiven, yet Little Faith bids them doubt and keep on bemoaning their sins and requesting forgiveness.

Upon the bed — The demon was gone out and in leaving had thrown the child in a fit upon the bed. (Russell)

And she went away to her house. This sketch of her return is peculiar to Mark. She had obeyed the command: ‘Go thy way.’—Laid, or, ‘thrown,’ upon the bed. Just as the demon left her, but in a quiet condition, which was the evidence that the demon had gone. The correct order favors this view. The exhaustion was natural, and a sign of complete dispossession. (PNT)

Can you trust in the Lord?

Mar 7:31 MKJV  And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came to the Sea of Galilee, in the midst of the borders of the Decapolis.

And again, departing — So far as the record goes, our Lord did nothing else in that quarter except for the poor Syrophenician woman. (Russell)

Decapolis – Mat_4:25. He did not go immediately into Capernaum, or any city where he was known, but into the retired regions around the Sea of Galilee. This was done to avoid the designs of the Pharisees, who sought his life. (Barnes)

Mar 7:32 MKJV  And they brought a deaf one to Him, hardly speaking. And they begged Him to put His hand on him.

They bring – That is, his friends brought, or the people brought.
One that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech – Not entirely mute, but who spoke indistinctly or with difficulty. His deafness might not have been of long standing, and his speech, therefore, not entirely ruined.
To put his hand upon him – That is, to cure him. Blessings were commonly imparted by laying on the hands. (Barnes)

They begged Him to put His hand on him: This is another example of intercession. The friends of this troubled man came and brought his need to Jesus. (Guzik)

Would you intercede for your friends?

Do you pray for your friends and family each night? (or just once in a great while?)

Mar 7:33 MKJV  And He took him aside from the crowd and put His fingers into his ears. And He spat and touched his tongue.

Jesus used a curious manner in healing this man. Why would Jesus use such an unusual way of healing?

Jesus used many different ways of healing. He healed with a word, healed without a word, healed in response to one’s faith, healed in response to the faith of another, healed those who asked, and He healed those He approached. Jesus didn’t want to be tied down to any “one method” to show that His power was not dependent on any method, but on the sovereign power of God.

Many people cared about this man, and perhaps many had prayed for his healing. But no one every stuck their fingers in his ears and spit on his tongue like this. Jesus did something completely new to catch this man’s attention, because He could not catch his attention with words. “Through touch and the use of spittle Jesus entered into the mental world of the man and gained his confidence.” (Lane)

Undoubtedly, Jesus knew there was something special in His manner that would minister to this man. “He adapts His method to the peculiar circumstances of need of the one with whom He is dealing. I am quite convinced if we could perfectly know these men we should discover the reason for the method. In each case Christ adapted Himself to the need of the man.” (Morgan) (Guzik)

Took him aside — Perhaps to impress upon him the lesson. A peculiarity in this miracle, that he healed him privately.

Put his fingers — These methods were used to attract the deaf man’s attention and assist his faith. As he could not hear, nothing said to him could explain the situation; he could see the spitting, feel the touch and thus understand what was going on. (Russell)

Do you try to deal with people where they are at?

Do you come to their level?

Mar 7:34 MKJV  And looking up to Heaven, He sighed and said to him, Ephphatha! (that is, Be opened!)

Looking up to heaven — Giving the man a lesson that the power for his cure was expected from God. As indicating that the sympathy of heaven was moved for the man’s assistance.

He sighed — Indicating his deep sympathy with the man before him and with the groaning creation in general. “He was touched with a feeling of man’s infirmities.” (Heb_4:15) The fact that he was perfect did not make him cold and unsympathetic, rather the reverse. His perfect mind would make all his sensibilities more active than ours, his sympathy would be stronger, his sense of pain keener. (Russell)

He sighed:  “The ‘sigh’ was an inward groan, our Lord’s compassionate response to the pain and sorrow sin has brought into the world. It was also a prayer to the Father on behalf of the handicapped man. (The same word is used in connection with prayer in Rom_8:23, and the noun in Rom_8:26).” (Wiersbe)

Do your actions give credit to God in heaven?

Mar 7:35 MKJV  And instantly his ears were opened and the bond of his tongue was loosened, and he spoke plainly.

Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly: The ancient Greek word for impediment in his speech is mogilalon, and is only used here in the New Testament. It is a word that is also used once in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, in Isa_35:5-6 : Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb [mogilalon] sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Mark wants us to know that the Messiah is here, bringing the glorious benefits of His rule. (Guzik)

Mar 7:36 MKJV  And He commanded them, that they should tell no one. But the more He commanded them, so much the more they proclaimed it.

And he charged them,…. The man that had his hearing and speech restored to him, and those that brought him, and as many as were witnesses of the miracle:

that they should tell no man; of the cure that was wrought, being not desirous of the applause of men; and knowing it would bring upon him the envy of the Scribes and Pharisees; and be a means of putting the common people upon setting him up as a temporal king, such as they expected the Messiah would be:

but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; or “spake of him”, as the Ethiopic version reads it; for they looked upon his charge merely to proceed from modesty, and that made them the more forward to speak of his greatness and in his praise, to publish his mighty works, and spread the fame of his miracles far and near. So, such who have received the grace of God, are become acquainted with Christ, and have a real experience of divine things, cannot but speak of them; they are like new wine which hath no vent; and are ready to burst like new bottles; to forbear speaking is a pain, and weariness to them; nay, they think, should they hold their peace, the stones in the walls would cry out. Wherefore, partly for the glory of God, the magnifying of the riches of his grace, and the honour of Christ, and the blessed Spirit; and partly to show their own sense of things, the gratitude of their minds, and the thankfulness of their hearts, as well as for the use, comfort, edification, and instruction of others, they must speak, and cannot be silent, whatever restraints are laid upon them. (Gill)

Does this describe you?

Mar 7:37 MKJV  And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.

saying, he hath done all things well; not by Beelzebub, the prince of devils, as said the Scribes and Pharisees; nor in any ostentatious manner, for the sake of the honour and applause of men, as they plainly saw; but for the good of mankind, and for the glory of God: and as all the miraculous works, which Christ did, were well done by him. (Gill)

Done all things well — Not merely this one healing, but many. (Mat_15:29-31)

The deaf to hear — His mission was not to heal the sick, but “to give his life a ransom for all”; secondarily to call his footstep followers, and only incidentally, as an illustration of his kingdom, to do miracles and cures.  It would have been a still greater work for Jesus to have expounded the divine plan and open the eyes of their understanding, but this was not possible at that time. Jesus said to his disciples, “Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father.” (Joh_14:12)

As new creatures we already have had our eyes opened, our ears unstopped and our tongues loosed, that we may speak of his goodness and love to others. (Russell)

In the kingdom “all the blind eyes shall be opened and all the deaf ears be unstopped.” (Isa_35:5)

Are your ears and mouths opened? Are you proclaiming the Lord like the ones here?

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