Tyre, Sidon – port cities of Syrophoenicia – a Gentile (non-Jewish) territory.
Decapolis – Gentile territory south-east Sea of Galilee
Dalmanutha – a district not now known, but presumably Jewish as there were Pharisees there
Pharisees – a holiness party concerned for separation of Jews from other peoples by keeping the details of Jewish law.Leaven – a substance, usually yeast, that makes dough rise
Herod/Herodians – supporters of the Herod dynasty – the partly Jewish, Roman puppet rulers.
- We, the readers know that Jesus is the Christ
- Jesus knows he is the Christ and the suffering servant
- Jesus has started proclaiming His kingdom – calling disciples, teaching, healing and exorcising in Galilee – though His work of proclamation is being sidetracked by His healings.
- Jesus astonishes people by His radical attitude to the forgiveness of sin and acceptance of sinners bringing in a completely new order and conflict with the scribes and Pharisees
- Jesus growing popularity and appointment of apostles is matched by the growing enmity of His opponents who whish to destroy Him and this He is mad or demon possessed.
- When teaching, Jesus was like Isaiah bringing the judgment of God upon the nation and so divided his audience by speaking in riddles or parables, which challenged people to side with Him or against Him. Only to those already following Him as disciples did He teach them plainly what He meant.
- The kingdom Jesus brings is a direct assault on the destructive forces of evil. So he liberates the captives of the devil, disorder, disease, destruction and death by His miracles.
- Jesus fame spread because of his (and his disciples) miracles though the crowds and even the disciples did not see the symbolic meaning of feeding the multitudes in the wilderness or leading his people across the sea by walking on water.
- Jesus’ challenge was to the reality of spiritual defilement that comes from our sinfulness, not just ritual defilement that the religious leaders and their rules were concerned about.
Old Testament reading: Isaiah 35
Jesus fame could not be hidden, even outside of Israel.
What was the Syriphonecian woman’s request and argument?
Her request to Jesus was to cast out the demon out of her daughter (verse 26). Jesus refused to do so because the woman was not Jewish. Jesus referred to the Jewish as ‘children’ and the gentiles (non-Jewish) as ‘dogs’ (verse 27). However, the woman argued that ‘even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs’ (verse 28).
What did her argument reveal?
Her humility and Jesus’ mission coverage.
What does Jesus response to this woman reveal?
Jesus was believed to be the Christ or the anointed one; that is the king-to-be for the Jews only. However, in this passage, it is revealed that His coming is not only to save the Jews, but also the gentiles (that’s us!).
How does this incident cast light on the earlier argument from chapter 7:1-23?
Faith is more important than physical rituals and traditions and even heritage (being Jewish doesn’t mean saved, but even a gentile could be saved if he has faith in Jesus Christ).
Healing of the man in the Decapolis, who was deaf and with a speech impediment.
Why would Jesus touch this man’s ears and tongue?
To heal him and to emphasize the teaching about ‘defilement’ from the previous passage in Mark 7:1-23. The gentiles were considered unclean by the Jews and thus it is seen as defiling for a Jew to touch a gentile. However, Jesus often heals the gentiles by touching. Also, previously, a woman with blood discharge (also considered unclean) touched Him and was healed and Jesus praises her faith instead of condemning her for touching His garment (Mark 5: 25-34).
What was the result of this healing?
The prophecy in Isaiah 35:5-6 fulfilled.
What was the (presumably unconscious) testimony to Jesus?
The gentiles testify that “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (verse 37).
In chapter 6 there is a great feeding.
What is the parallel between that feeding and the one in chapter 8?
Both happened in desolate places. This is again, a reference to the manna feeding in the Old Testaments, a call to trust in God’s word.
The disciples’ disbelief or hardened hearts, again (Mark 6: 37, 8: 4 & 21).
What were the differences between the two feeding?
In the first feeding, there were 5000 men and 12 baskets of left over and it was in a Jewish area.
In the second feeding, there were 4000 men and 7 baskets of left over and it was in a gentile area.
What could account for the two feedings and their differences?
The left over of the first feeding were 12 baskets and the number 12 represents the number of the tribes in Israel. Also, the feeding happened in the Jewish area.
The second feeding had 7 baskets of left over and the number 7 represents perfection or completeness and the feeding happened in the gentile area.
This implies that the coming of Jesus is not exclusively for Jewish people only, but also for the gentiles. This is a parallel revelation to the previous passage in Mark 7:24-30 about the Syrophoenician woman.
The disciples misunderstood Jesus warning about the Pharisees.
What did the Pharisees want and why was it wrong?
The Pharisees wanted a sign from heaven (Mark 8: 11). It implies that they think that the signs that Jesus has performed all this time don’t come from heaven. Previously in Mark 3: 22-30, the scribes have accused Jesus for being possessed by the demon.
The reason the Pharisees asked for a sign is to test Jesus. The testing itself is justified because in the Old Testament, God has commanded Israel to test a prophet to find out whether the prophet comes from God or not (Deuteronomy 18:15-22, especially verses 21-22). However, the way to test a prophet is to see whether his words come true. The Pharisees did not test Jesus by finding out whether His words came true or not, but by asking for another sign ‘from heaven’.
If the Pharisees had tested Jesus the way it is commanded in the Old Testaments, they would have seen that Jesus’ words did come true. When He spoke to heal people, they became well immediately, and Jesus also spoke many times of His death and resurrection and it did come true.
Why was the disciples’ concern about not having bread silly (Mark 8: 14-21)?
Because in the previous passages, Jesus fed thousands of people with only a few breads and fish, TWICE (Mark 8: 17-21).
How does the disciples’ discussion concerning not bringing bread, demonstrate their failure to understand Jesus (Mark 8: 16)?
Again, Jesus has fed thousands of people with only a few breads and fish. Not only this means they should be trusting in God’s Word, but also, Jesus was talking about the Pharisees and Herod’s disbelief in Mark 8: 15. He uses the ‘leaven’ parable to show the danger of the Pharisees and Herod’s disbelief. A little leaven put on bread mix would entirely affect the form of the bread. Similarly, a little disbelief would ruin a person’s heart entirely.
How serious is Jesus accusation in Mark 8:18?
The reason for their lack of understanding is because of their rebellious nature (Ezekiel 12: 2). Jesus pointed out that their sin or rebellion has hardened their heart.
What significance do the numbers of loaves and baskets have?
5 loaves – 5000 men – 12 baskets left over
7 loaves – 4000 men – 7 baskets left over
As mentioned in the earlier question, the coming of Jesus is not exclusively for Jewish people only, but also for the gentiles. This is a parallel revelation to the previous passage in Mark 7:24-30 about the Syrophoenician woman.
The number 7 also used to represent completeness, for example, in Genesis, God finished creating the world and rest in the 7th day.
What does this passage teach us about
Who Jesus is?
The saviour of Jews and gentiles.
Why Jesus came?
To save Jews and gentiles.
What he expects of us?
To have faith in Him.