February 13 – Chronological Life of Jesus Day 32
At this point in our study, we are a little over two years into Jesus’ ministry on earth, wrapping up an eleven-month period referred to as Jesus’ extended ministries and next week entering a six-month period of Jesus’ specialized ministries before his concluding ministries. We haven’t been hearing much from John, but that will change in this next period. Thanks to Holly for researching and finding these notes on the chronology!
READ: Mark 7
Today’s reading may seem familiar because it’s identical to our reading in Matthew 15 yesterday. Dyea pointed out Jesus’ teaching of things being clean that the Jews thought were unclean (vs. 1-20) is the door opening to preaching the Good News to the Gentiles. In verse 19, Mark also clarifies that Jesus’ teaching here declares all foods to be clean, nullifying the Old Testament laws of what animals can be eaten. Both of these teachings are the foundation to Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9-29 that Dyea mentioned yesterday. Let’s stay here a little bit in the debate of clean vs. unclean. Verses 14-15 say, “Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’’” I still have a 1-year old in diapers—I get this. But Jesus’ meaning, as usual, goes deeper than the physical realm and into the nasty yuck that comes out of our mouths from the overflow of our hearts and/or that manifests from the inside into sinful actions on the outside—as Jesus explains to his disciples in verses 21-22, “’evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.’” It’s easy to look at that list and say not me! But look at that list again, more slowly, and listen to God convict. Those sins that everyone knows are bad—murder, theft—are on equal footing with the sins I probably commit every day—deceit, envy, greed, malice, arrogance, slander, folly. How do we make ourselves clean with all this sinful uncleanness we allow into our hearts each day?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
All this clean/unclean and then the next tidbit on the foreign woman in verses 24-30 taken with some of the other stuff we’ve been reading about Jesus (sending the disciples to take the Good News to all of Israel but if they don’t welcome the message, just leave)—there’s a change happening in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had a following of disciples, but the Jews in general were rejecting him, led by the Pharisees and Jewish leaders; Jesus faced this rejection every day of his ministry, more and more. Though so much rejection would have stopped me long ago, this didn’t stop him. Instead, it was time to take the message to the world! Gentiles at this time were also referred to as “dogs”. Hence, Jesus’ comment to the foreign woman in verse 27 was not as cryptic to her, and his disciples listening in, as it is to us. This is more bread of life stuff too, like we read about earlier this week in John. The meaning Jesus was conveying is that as God’s chosen ones, the Jews (the children) get the choice to accept their Messiah first (partake in the bread of life). Her response is so faith-filled because she acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah and basically says I’ll take whatever I can get; if those Jews are going to let the bread of life drop off the table, I’ll chomp it right up! Then Jesus rewards her faith by healing her daughter. She’s an unclean Gentile, not raised to be chosen, she probably even ate pork, but what washed her sins away and made her clean?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
There’s a lot of talk in the news and social media right now about what Katy Perry said during an interview. She said that she prayed to God before the Super Bowl halftime show and that He spoke encouragement to her heart and through a man she didn’t know. That is right before she sang a song about kissing a girl and liking it. Why are so many Christians mad about this? She pointed to God! Is she still a sinner? Yes. So am I, and the same mouth I pray to God with, I also use to say some mean and awful things. Our sins are on equal footing in that Katy Perry’s sins and my sins make us unclean. I don’t know if Katy Perry has accepted the blood of Jesus as a sacrifice for her sins and is saved, but I know she is at least seeking. And we should pray for her and encourage her in love. I’m thankful that she acknowledged God before her performance and had the guts to tell an interviewer about it.
Verses 31-37 give more detail on the healing of the deaf and mute man than Matthew did. First, this account occurred in a region known to be the home of Gentiles but close to where Jesus sent the demons into the herd of pigs. These guys sought help for their deaf and mute friend. They sought Jesus. Seek and you will find (Matthew 7:7), and their seeking and faith were rewarded. Instead of just saying Jesus healed this guy, Mark provides a lot of details that we haven’t seen in any other healings. Jesus usually just speaks, and it is so, so why the show here? I saw one commentary that compared this man to us. Sometimes Jesus has to shove his fingers into our ears and clean out the ear wax to make us listen to him. So, why did Jesus command the healed man and his friends not to tell anyone about this miracle (vs. 36)? Jesus wanted followers whose hearts believed that he was the Messiah, not followers who wanted to watch a circus act or followers who just wanted physical healing and not spiritual healing. Playing the telephone game after this healing, what kind of following do you think Jesus would get?
I am a sinner, just like every other human that ever lived, except Jesus whose death on the cross and resurrection from the dead grant me forgiveness if I repent and eternal life if I believe.
Thank You, God, for the blood of Jesus that cleanses my sinful uncleanness and makes me white as snow! I am also thankful that Jesus’ ministry turned to the Gentiles so that this gift is available to anyone who believes. You love us so much! Help me to repent of my sins and choose You more and more over my sinful nature.