Mark 19: Great faith

Mark 7:24-37

24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

For Christians, “faith” is an important term and word that we need to understand. The Bible says that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. In the church, we often ask “have you put your faith in Christ?” But many Christians are still confused about what it means to have faith. There was research done by Christian in Science and Technology society. It says that 1 out of 4 Christians has the wrong view of faith. If this number is correct, it means that for every 4 people in this church, there could be one person who has either no idea of faith or has a wrong concept of faith. This is so dangerous. We know that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. How can we call ourselves Christian, but we don’t know what it means to have faith in Christ? Do we really have true faith in Christ? Too many Christians are confused about faith. We can have a quick reflection on ourselves right now. If an unbeliever comes and asks you “what do you mean by putting your faith in Christ?”, can you answer that?

That is what we are going to learn from this scripture that we just read. What does it mean to have faith in Christ? I am going to divide my sermon into 3 parts

  1. Great Faith Has The Right Object

24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet.

Before we go deeper into the scripture, let’s have a look at the context of this pericope. This region is a gentile region. At that time, a gentile is considered an unclean person. After preaching a very strong message about being clean and unclean in the previous chapter, Jesus is now heading to an unclean region which is a gentile area. I just imagined that there would be many negative talks at that time. Jewish leaders may ask and wonder “why did Jesus go to the gentile area? Does he know these people are unclean”? Again and again, Jesus showed to Jewish people that salvation is for all people including Jewish people.

While Jesus and His Disciple were spending some time in the house to have rest, there was a gentile woman who came and fell at Jesus’ feet. I love how Mark, again and again, uses the word “immediately”. The woman did not just wait at home hoping that Jesus will come past her home. As soon as she knew that Jesus is around her area, she acted immediately. Why? Why did she act in such urgency? Because she heard about Jesus. Not only does she hears about Jesus. Mark did not write in his book, but Matthew wrote it.  Matt 15: 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon”. She mentioned Jesus not just the name but with His title, Lord Son of David. This title was used by Jewish people for Messiah. The woman did not just want the miracle. She believed Jesus was the Messiah.

She is a gentile. She does not have this kind of belief. She believed in many gods; god of rain, god of son, god of that and god of this. She has been living believing in all those gods but none of them can help her daughter. Even many Jewish people did not have that belief. The Pharisees see Him as an enemy, and they made a plan to kill Jesus. The Roman government sees Him as a traitor. Many people also see Jesus as a political King, not the Messiah. But this gentile woman sees Jesus as the Messiah who has compassion not only for Jewish people but also for her race, gentile people.

During that time, a woman has no rights plus she is a gentile. She knows all those rules. The culture and rules tell her to just stay at home. Her gentile friends may believe in other gods. But she did not care. She ran to Jesus with urgency. She came to Jesus boldly. I would imagine there would be a lot of thought inside her mind – “you breach the rules! You are not supposed to do this! You will be in trouble! People will think that you are crazy. Your relatives may talk bad about you. How about other gods that your family and your relative believe.” But this is her response – “Lord, I need you right now! I don’t really care what other people say about me. Lord, I need help and I need it right now!”. Is that our situation before we put our faith in Christ? We are hopeless. Nothing we can do.

Without Christ, we are hopeless. Without Christ, there is one destination for us which is eternal punishment. But there is one good news that we can learn from this gentile woman. She can have great faith but if she did not put in the right object, there is no hope for her. She has a lot of options, god of rain, god of sun. It would be worthless if we put our faith in the wrong object. Faith by itself has no power but when we put our faith in the right object which is Jesus Christ, it has the power. We can easily say in our mouth that we put our faith in Jesus Christ but in our action, we put our faith in our righteousness, in our good works or in church attendance.

  1. Great Faith Is Humble Faith and Trusting Faith

26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

The first time I studied these five verses, I was surprised and shocked. Let me read to you one more time. In verse 26, the woman begged Jesus to help her; to cast out a demon from her daughter which is very good. We learned that she came to Jesus in desperation. But let’s see Jesus’ response in verses 27 – 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”. In His response, Jesus basically calls her a dog. At first, I could not believe that this kind of word comes from Jesus. My first question when I read this verse is “Did Jesus bully the gentile woman? Did Jesus mistreat the gentile woman?”. If He did, it means Jesus committed sin. If He sinned against her, it means that Jesus cannot be our saviour. My second question is “did Jesus just do favouritism?” In verse 27, Jesus said to her let the children which are referring to the Children of Israel eat first then the dog which is the gentile. I thought Jesus is so gracious that He give His Grace equally to Jewish and Gentile.

To answer both questions, we need to understand that Jesus used the word “dog” here to explain to their followers that His ministry has a priority, which is to deal with Jewish people first, but it does not mean that Jesus ignored the gentile people. The outreach to Gentile would come later in His perfect timing. At this moment, Jesus needs to make people know that He comes to fulfil the Old Testament promise which is to bless Abraham’s Generation or Jewish people.

However, if we were the gentile woman and Jesus called us “a dog”, what would be our response? I mean a dog is still a dog. Some of us would have said, “stop there, brother, I will call my lawyer and we deal in the court”. Or some of us who little bit childish would have said, “you called me a dog? You are the dog!”. If I was the gentile woman, I may take back my word that called Jesus Son of David. I would have said, “he is just another rude Jewish man.”

But the gentile woman did not argue with Jesus. She was not mad at Jesus. She did not turn her back and go home. This is what she said in verse 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” She did not see what Jesus says, as an insult.

Have you guys done a blood check? Ellis and I do blood check every year to control our health. Just imagine that I did the blood test and got the result and then I bring the result to the doctor. The doctor read the result and found that my cholesterol is so high. The doctor asks me to control my diet. The doctor says, “Edrick, you need to control your diet and reduce all the fatty food including KFC (except the one in Artarmon as some people say KFC in Artarmon is less fat).” I have two possible responses to that instruction. I can feel offended and say, “do you call me fat, doctor? Seriously?”. I continue with my bad lifestyle. Or I can humbly admit that result is the true result of my health and accept the result. The doctor tells me that based on the truth of the blood test result.

Her response is not fake. Her response is a natural response from her heart because she knows what she deserved. She only deserved the crumb under the table. She is content with just crumbs under the table. She knows that even the crumb under the table is His Grace and she is satisfied with that. But the good news is God is not satisfied with just giving us the crumb. He pours His grace upon us. Great faith comes from great humility that realised who we were. We were a sinner who deserve nothing from God, but God gives us everything.

Today, many of us think we are too good for the crumb. We think that we deserve to sit at the table because of our resume such as, “I have done this and that for Christ. So, I deserve to have food on top of the table” or “I have been Christian for a long time. I have been doing ministry. Therefore, I deserve to sit on table”. Many of us also love to hide under the title of “I am Christian”. Every time we listen to the sermon, we only think that the sermon is for him or her. It is not for me. 

Her faith is not only humble faith, but she trusts and believe that Jesus is able to heal her daughter. Because of her faith, Jesus cast out the demon from her daughter. 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

Many Christians try to have faith with being humble. They demand for God to do something for them. If God does not do what we want, we will leave our faith. We want God who does not offend us or rebuke us. If He does through our Pastor or our leader, we threaten God to leave our Faith.

  1. Great Faith Always Produces Great Testimony

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.

This is the second story. After casting out the demon, Jesus went to another Gentile area. In this pericope, Jesus healed a deaf man but interestingly this man did not come to Jesus by himself. In other couples healing miracles, the sick person comes to Jesus by themselves. In this pericope, verse 32, says that some people brought this deaf man to Jesus. In some healing miracles, the sick person heard about Jesus’ amazing news, and they believe, and they came to Jesus. This man is deaf. He may not hear anything about Jesus. He may not hear the news about Jesus, but other people hear about Jesus. They did not only hear about Jesus, but they believe it. They know that this story is not fake. There is a big difference between “only hear the story” and “hear then believe”. I do not think these people can have the boldness to bring this deaf man to Jesus unless they believe in Jesus.

A few weeks ago, I joined training in my workplace. The training is about giving the presentation. It was good training. There is one exercise that interesting. 2 months before the training we are given the task to prepare 3 minutes presentation. The presentation is work-related. They told us to practice the presentation. Thus, we know that we will be assessed by the trainer. On the day of training, everyone was asked to present, and the trainer recorded the presentation. As we know that we will be assessed, we make it very obvious everybody’s language or gesture or intonation. But it did not stop in there. After all of us gave our prepared presentations, the trainer asked us to prepare a 1-2 minute presentation on the spot about our hobby or passion. I mean they only gave us 10 minutes to prepare this compared to the first presentation, we have 2 months to prepare. I chose my topic as a soccer team. My topic is “Manchester United is the best team in the world”. This is for real. I shared about how Manchester United changed the Premier League into the best league in the world. It becomes one of the biggest incomes for the UK. All of these presentations were also recorded. In the end, we watched both presentations. It does surprise me. When we watched our first presentation, even though we tried our best, the gesture and body language are very awkward. It is not natural. But when we watched the second presentation, even with only 5 minutes of preparation, we were just amazed at how natural all the body language, intonation, and gestures were. As we shared our passion, we don’t even think about all those things, it comes naturally. But this is the big winner. The trainer told me, “I listen to your first presentation. I just don’t believe what you said. You do not have an emotional feeling when you shared the material. You just want to touch the finish line. You do not believe what you shared. But, in the second presentation, I am not a soccer fan, but I believe your team is the best team in the world because you truly believe that. When you believe and share with others, you have that emotional feeling in your sharing. You want to encourage other people to believe. You want to invite other people to believe as well.”

The question that we should ask ourselves is, do we believe the Gospel we shared with other people? Has the Gospel really changed your heart? Have we experienced what the gentile woman experience? She realised who she was, and she knew that she deserved nothing from God. But God poured her with abundant grace into her life. If we experience that in our hearts, we can not hold this Good News to ourselves. That happened with the crowd. In verse 36, it says that 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

For me, this is really the irony. At that time, Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He stopped them, the more they kept talking about Jesus. You may ask why Jesus ask them to stop sharing His story. Jesus knew that His main purpose to come to this world is not for doing a lot of miracles but to die on the Cross for our sins. The more people talk about the miracle, the more people come to Jesus just for the miracle. His primary mission is not to heal the sick. That’s why He asked people not to tell anyone, but they cannot resist telling people. That is really the irony. At the time, Jesus asked people not to tell anyone, but they cannot resist telling other people. But now, Jesus commanded us as a believer to share Gospel and yet, many of us remain silent. When Jesus has touched us and we realised the new life we have, let me tell you church, we cannot resist telling others.


During this pandemic, I think we can sense a glimpse of what it means about “unclean” gentile. When someone got the Covid, we are trying to avoid that person. We may even try to avoid anything that they touched before. Touching them is the last thing we want to do with them. During that time, even healthy gentile people are considered “unclean”. This man is deaf. I think if Jewish people need to point out which part of this man-body is most unclean, they will point to his ear because he is deaf. People will be afraid of touching his ear but not Jesus. When no one wants to make “personal” contact with this deaf man, Jesus wants to get personal with this man. Verse 33 says that 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately. Jesus can heal this man in the midst of the crowd and many people would like Him a lot, but Jesus takes this man aside from the crowd. Jesus wants a personal encounter with this man. Church, I hope you realised that Jesus wants to have a personal relationship with you. He wants to spend time with you. With His tenderness, He touched the places where this man was having the problem. He did not only touch the problem, but He healed the problem.

Jesus cares about our physical sickness. He cares about our financial problem. He cares about your children and your family. But He cares about more deeply than that. We have bigger problem than our physical needs. Our biggest problem is sin. What we need to be healed is not our physical sickness but our sin. At the cross, Jesus personally touched our biggest problem and healed our biggest problem. Like in this story, Jesus is willing to go to the lowest point of our lives and touched our lives. At the Cross, Jesus went to the lowest point; He got bullied, His body was broken, He got rejected, and people laughed at Him. But the lowest point of His life is when He was rejected by His Father because He took all our sins.  Church I hope you can sense how personal it was. Yes, Jesus saves many people in this world, but He saves each one of us individually. It is personal. He came to this world as if you were the only sinner in this world. He died on the Cross as if you were the only one to be saved. If you were the only one to be saved in this world, Jesus would still come to this world and die for you and me. You are not an unknown child in midst of many believers. You are the beloved children of God.

Let me ask you this question. I will give two statements, and which one do you think the correct one. First statement, God does not always heal our physical sickness. Second statement, it is often that God’s will to heal our physical sickness. Both are true. So often we only focus to one statement and exclude other statement. Thus, when we pray to God, our pray is timid. We focus on the first one and we are not desperate come and ask God.

I don’t know what problem you are facing now. You may be facing financial problems, family problems or health issues. Some of us are worried about our aging parents and realise that they will not be around forever. Do you need to be saved? Come to Him! Whatever problem we are facing now, I want us to realise as the crowd understood. In verse 37, it says that 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. We can boldly bring our problem to God. As we learn from these stories, the gentile woman came to God, cried, and ask God in desperation. Our problem is sometimes we are too proud to ask God but remember that we have the saviour who has done all things well. Come to Him!

Discussion questions:

  1. List out as many reasons as possible as to why people often feel “disqualified” about coming to Jesus.
  2. What strikes you the most from the story of the Syrophoenician woman?
  3. What makes this woman’s faith great? In your own words, how would you define a great faith?
  4. Explain the relationship between faith and testimony.
  5. How does the gospel encourage you to bring your petition to God with confidence?
  6. Bring your petition to God in prayer with your small group.
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