What Is God Like

What Is God Like: Mark 7:24-30
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday July 5, 2020

It has taken me a very long time to feel like I understand this passage. Do you struggle with it, or maybe even, now that you’ve heard this perhaps for this firs time this morning – did it strike you ask odd?

I hope scripture strikes you.


In someway impactful.

Don’t just let this pass you by without a thought engage with Scripture, consider it think about it deeply. Draw it in, take from it – let it out and observe it.

Let me talk for a moment about what the scripture is it is God’s word for us. This is the only way we can surly and accurately and trustingly know God. You can read one of the numerous books about God – but you’re trusting they accurately got their information from here.

But, interestingly, more than simply information we get to see the God man here in these gospel books interacting with humanity. The infinite creator walking and taking among the finite creature. We should be hanging on His every word, His every intention, His every purpose to know what is God like.

We should desire to shift from thinking like pagans to thinking like believers filled with the Spirit of God. Apathy, disengagement, partnering with the world for humanistic solutions to humanistic problems isn’t how we think like Kingdom people.

Let me give you a 3-part systems for spiritual renewal – some of us may need it deeply!

  • Turn off the TV.
  • Put down twitter and facebook.
  • Step away for a bit from the world system (Ephesians 2:21 John 2:15-17John 15:18–19) and be transformed (or be being transformed continually as the language suggests)

Ephesians 2:2 (ESV)
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—

1 John 2:15 (ESV)
Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

John 15:18-19 (ESV)
The Hatred of the World
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Romans 12:2 (ESV)
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So lets step away from the world and worldly pagan thinking, lets step into Gods word, and lets be about being transformed first in our minds.

As we do so, we’ll see what God is like.

Mark 7:24–30 (ESV)
The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
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.

Mark is making note that Jesus has come to decidedly gentile territory.

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.

To our minds which can be pagan but aren’t 1st century hebrews this can feel like a rude, heartless, judgmental, aristocratic exchange – however, it was just the opposite. In fact Jesus did something scandalous – he did it for the 12 and for the Jews living out on the fringes of jewish society and culture – He showed deep compassion and missional mindset. And that is what God is like.

Deeply Compassionate
…and missional.

The tension between the Jews and the gentiles was to say high would be an understand. There is some wordplay here with the concept of dogs – the Jews would have referred to the gentile as a dog. We think of labradoodles or dachshunds the concept here is a Ferrel street scavenger – imagine an almost non domestic dog surviving off of what it could scavenge in the streets, likely not treated well – it’s disposition would likely be rough – this was how the gentile was referred to.

This gentile, Syrophoenician or Syria Phoenicia a Roman area where you’d find Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. They’re related to the Canaanites with a population hub in Tyre (coastal Lebanon today). Just north of Israel they as a people illustrate the border between the jew and the Greek.

Jesus wasn’t on earth tooling around, seeing where he could find sick people to heal – he was on a very specific mission, at a very specific time in history to bring about the fullness of His church which first went to the Jew.

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.”

There is word play here which is important. Word play that helps us see what God is like

In verse 28 the woman referred to her self as a dog, as the Jews may have because of her gentile birth/upbringing, etc. Jesus took her lead, but did something big here. We can burn past this, but it’s vastly and deeply important. It shows his deep compassion and missional ministry nature. I believe Jesus went deep into gentile territory to allow something like this to be seen – he took her word for Dog (negative and judging) and flipped it into loving and familial. He took the pejorative word, and used the word for puppy or pet.

It’s not right to take His teaching and His presence away from the children (His purposely using all these affectionate terms, puppy … children… trying to invoke and display compassion) and give it to the pets. He’s taken the edge off of the contentious relationship between the gentile and jew; this is a teaching moment for the 12 and for the jewish household he is in to direct healing in people deeply separated – have you ever known such a time?

A time of deep separation among people?
People who should all be one God-fearing kingdom?

And so Mark chains these two key passages and events together:

Mark 7:19 (ESV)
19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Mark 7:24 (ESV)
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.

Can I eat a pork sandwich, can I drink a soda with caffeine… yes; and the gentile’s faith brings about salvation in the fullness of Christs ministry. Jesus must bring God’s gospel

Mark 1:14–15
Jesus Begins His Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,

15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

What’s happening here is a time shift. Jesus is the new priesthood replacing the human order.

Hebrews 7:12 (ESV)
12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.

Now in the timeline if our story – he was still being made perfect:

Hebrews 2:10 (ESV)
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Through suffering, being brought low – bringing his ministry to the Jews pronouncing his messiah-ship would get Him tortuously murdered, and at through which God would bring judgment on all the sins of those would would turn to Him in repentance. Dog’s under the table the pets of the family would soon be co-children

Romans 8:16–17 (ESV)
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”

Jesus pronounced all things clean, His ministry is coming to a head – the 12 and those around them will learn soon that what was true for the Syrophoenician woman would soon be true for all the world that would call on Jesus’ name; the Kind of the Jews is the savior of the world.

30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

I used to struggle with this because hearing people, Gentiles, described as dogs – and why would Jesus seemingly withhold good until someone knew positionally where they should fall in order of food (meals verses crumbs).

However, I would argue this – that is a pagan reading of the text. It starts with people and says, lets judge God’s intentions.

This isn’t a test about justice; this is a text about trusting God with absolutely everything.

Non pagan reading of text says, I trust you God with everything – defining goodness and truth; when my plain reading of scripture is unpopular, I trust you to be the arbiter of truth.

We ultimately know that Jesus was on mission in Jewish territory and to Jewish people. Two his 12 and to the jews in the house where he was this scene played out I think for their benefit not for the woman’s. Jesus knew her heart and knew her faith. By talking this through He exposed that for others and demonstrated how the Jew was to interact with the gentile.

Now, as this scene was playing out there was a wall that prevented the gentiles from entering the Jewish temple courts – the penalty was stiff, death.

But in the fullness of time:

Ephesians 2:11–22 (ESV)
One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Given crumbs of His teaching, elements of truth…

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,

He is ushering this very thing in and giving a foreshadowing of it here in Mark’s gospel story now.

16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Jesus knew the fullness of time access to God was more perfect – yet would still be flawed. We through our view of rightness and wrongness cannot know the fullness of time. We cannot even fully understand the intentions of our hearts – we must allow Scripture to plot truth for us, we cloud God’s vision.

God’s attributes in fullness on display in Jesus in a fallen world were Deeply Compassionate
…and missional.

Step away from the world and worldly pagan thinking, lets step into God’s word, and lets be about being transformed first in our minds. Church – transform your mind.

Turn off the TV.
Put down twitter and facebook.
Step away for a bit from the world system (Ephesians 2:21 John 2:15-17John 15:18–19) and be transformed (or be being transformed continually as the language suggests)

Step into, The Word.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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