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Lenten Journey of Release & Renewal (Day Nineteen)

Day Nineteen

Scripture: Mark 7:24-30

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ 28 But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ 29 Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ 30 So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.


It appears that she needed a lot of courage to come. She was a total outsider to Jesus, and she knew it. She was a Gentile (a Greek and a Syrophoenician), a woman, and a “lady,” a socially and economically powerful person. Perhaps she could have used her power to summon the Jewish man named Jesus to her house. However, because she was a mother more than anything else, she came desperately and bowed to him. Her courage, humility, and self-sacrificing love for her daughter should have touched Jesus’ heart.

Yet, Jesus insulted her. “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” In the Hebrew Scriptures and tradition, to call someone a “dog” was a clear insult. The “dogs” were considered “unclean” creatures in Jewish culture.

Why did he say that? Didn’t he just preach about what comes out of us defiles us? Was he that annoyed by this powerful Gentile lady’s invasion into his resting place? Did he lose his temper when his short sweet break was disturbed? Or should we think Jesus didn’t really mean it but only wanted to test her faith?

Mark doesn’t give us an explanation of why Jesus said so. Given the colonial dynamic between Gentiles and Jews, perhaps Mark was impressed by Jesus for not being intimidated by this lady but making her humble by speaking of his mission for his people. The bottom line is that the Jewish Christians who were reading this passage in the first century would have felt amazed by the courage of Jesus rather than feeling perplexed by his attitude toward the woman.

Therefore, our focus in this story should be given to the courage and humility of the woman and of Jesus. Jesus courageously confronted her, reminding her she had no right, power, and authority over him. She courageously confronted Jesus’ insult by saying even the “dogs” deserve grace, admitting her humble state before him. Jesus humbly admitted that he was wrong. Her daughter was healed.


  1. Have you tried to confront someone’s insulting words?

  2. How can we stay humble today?

Prayer / Reflection:

Song of Reflection: We Fall Down

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