The Book of Ruth – Part Three

This is Part Three of a five-part sermon series through the Old Testament book of Ruth preached on April 28, 2013. It is entitled “Forming a Theology of Work”. You can listen to the audio of the sermon here. You can also follow along with this basic outline: The Book of Ruth – Sermon 3 Outline – Theology of Work.

Review and Reflect on Mark 10:32-52

At the end of Mark 10, Jesus continues to teach and heal and expand his ministry. The last few posts have looked at how he has dealt with his disciples’ desire to be given positions of prominence and influence in the new Kingdom that Jesus was going to bring. Jesus has placed a child in front of them on two different occasions to contrast their desire for power and authority. The first time he says whoever welcomes those like children welcomes me, and the second time he says we are to receive the Kingdom of God like little children. But the disciples still believed that Jesus was going to launch a rebellion and overthrow the government in order to establish his own Kingdom militarily and politically. They understood Jesus to be the Messiah, but their understanding of Messiah needed fixed. Jesus doesn’t leave them in their ignorance, but he continues to be patient with them and teach them. In last verses of Mark 10 we see yet again, Jesus telling his disciples the kind of Messiah he is.

Jesus tells them what he is going to do for them, but they fail to understand it completely. In Mark 10:32-34, for the third time, Jesus foretells what he will do. This time he says it will happen in Jerusalem and verse 32 says that’s exactly where they are heading. This isn’t some distant someday, Jesus tells them again about his death because it is going to happen very soon. He describes his death more graphically this time as well. He says he will be mocked, and spit upon. He will be beaten and killed. But, it also says he will rise. This goes against everything the average person believed about the Messiah, yet Jesus continues to teach that as the Messiah, he has to die and he has to rise.

The disciples still don’t understand. It’s almost as if they completely ignored what Jesus was saying about what he was going to do. As soon as Jesus tells them this, two of them, James and John, ask Jesus for a favor. Their request is borne out of a misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose. He wasn’t going to establish an earthly rule, but since they thought he would, The Disciples’ ask Jesus to make them great. Jesus says, I’m going to die and rise, and the disciples respond by asking for positions of prominence and greatness. In Mark 10:35-45they ask Jesus for a favor and he replies, “What do you want me to do for you?” In Verse 37 they say “When you are in your glory” in other words, “when you become our King, let us sit on your right and left”; “Let us hold the highest positions of power and prestige”. He tells them in verse 38 that they don’t even know what they are asking. Even though he has just explained it to them again, they don’t even realize that he is going to die, so what they are asking is to be killed with him. If they realized that, they certainly wouldn’t have asked it.

In verses 39-40, he asks them if they can drink the same cup and have the same baptism as him. This again is a reference to his death. They say they can, and Jesus says they will. Jesus predicts their deaths. Acts 12:2 says that King Herod put James to death by the sword – this means he was beheaded. Peter was arrested right after this but an angel set him free so he escaped death. John and James were part of the inner circle with Peter. John is not heard of in the book of Acts after chapter 8 so it is assumed he was martyred as well since he was one of the prominent 3 disciples. Jesus told them they would drink the same cup that he drank, and in the book of Acts we see they were killed because they proclaimed Jesus as the Risen Messiah.

But this is far away from Mark 10. Jesus is still teaching them what it means for him to be the Messiah. In verses 41-44, the other disciples are furious that James and John are trying to gain such status so Jesus intervenes and brings perspective. He says that the rulers of this world use their authority for their own purposes, but in the Kingdom of God this will not be the case. The greatest will be the servant and the first will be the slave. Once again, Jesus subverts our understanding of authority, power, and influence. Previously, we talked about the Rich Young Ruler who Jesus told to sell everything because he loved his wealth more than God. The Rich Ruler used his wealth for himself, Jesus says in the Kingdom of God, wealth is for serving others.

Here he says power and influence are demonstrated in humility, sacrifice, and service. Like wealth, power and influence are also to be used for others. Sometimes this is twisted into the idea of a Servant Leader. Some will say that in order to have true influence you have to serve. Jesus isn’t saying this. You don’t serve and act humbly to gain power and influence. Jesus says true power and influence are displayed in humility and service. Where is real power found? In pouring yourself out. A man named Oswald Chambers once said, “The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do.” Jesus says, receive the Kingdom of God like a child. He put on a towel and washed feet. He doesn’t call us to do great things for God, he calls us to understand the mercy he extends to us as the Messiah. Any greatness achieved individually or as a church will only come from that.

Do you understand what he has done for us and how it affects every aspect of life? If you cry out for his mercy, he will respond. When we understand that mercy it will be translated into a life of humility and service that is powerful enough to change lives, and families, and communities, and even countries. But all of that is secondary. The place we begin, is rightly understanding our Messiah in the way he reveals himself in the Bible, not in any popular misconceptions or personal preferences.

In verse 45, Jesus says one of the greatest statements in the Gospel: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He expressed his power, authority and influence in sacrifice and service. Jesus leveraged his position to gain eternal life for us. Although he is the Messiah, the King of heaven and earth, when he walked on earth he didn’t demand service or submission even though they were rightly due to him. Instead, he served and submitted even to the point of dying as a ransom for us. We typically think of “ransom” in terms of kidnapping, but its more appropriately understood in the Bible in reference to prisoners or slaves. Jesus paid the price of our slavery so we could be set free. Jesus paid the price of our penalty so we could be released. In his death, he rescues us from the penalty of our sin and the slavery to our sinfulness. So when James and John ask Jesus for a favor in verse 36 and Jesus says, “What do you want me to do?” they reply by saying “Make us great!” And Jesus says, you don’t know what you are asking. Ratherthan doing what you ask me to do, I’ll do what you need me to do. Jesus died for James and John and for us, to pay our ransom. James and John eventually come to understand properly Jesus as Messiah and he makes them great through martyrdom as James is beheaded and John is never heard from again after a trip to visit another disciple who was preaching the Gospel. In asking Jesus to make them great, they showed they didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do.

Our church is small, we don’t have much influence in our town, and we are praying for God to grow the church and make us great. But when we pray for this, let us fully understand what we are asking. We’ll be made great by sacrifice, service, selflessness, and humility, not through power and influence. This has very little to do with the size or span of our ministry and everything to do with knowing Jesus.

As Jesus and his disciples continue on toward Jerusalem where all of this is going to happen, they go through Jericho. Here, Jesus has someone else ask him for a favor in Mark 10:46-52This man asks Jesus for a favor to, but this favor is quite different from the one for which the disciples asked. Rather than asking to be made great, this man is asking to be shown mercy.

When he calls out to Jesus, he says calls him “Son of David”. Whether or not the man fully understood what he was saying, the title certainly has Messianic qualities to it. He recognized Jesus’ authority by equating him with David. Instead of asking to be made great, he confesses Jesus’ greatness and asks for mercy. Hearing his cry for mercy, Jesus stops in verse 49. Remember that Jesus is the True King who shows compassion for his people, so even though many people told this guy to be quiet, Jesus hears him. In verse 52, he replies with the same question as in verse 36, “What do you want me to do for you?” James and John wanted power and authority, Bartimaeus wants Mercy.

What do you want me to do? Display your Mercy and make me whole!

The Rich Ruler from verses 17-31 wanted to keep doing his things his own way and also get eternal life. He had everything this world offers and he refused to give it up. Bartimaeus had nothing and he is given everything. Verse 52 says he recovered his sight and followed Jesus. He was a blind beggar, but now he is a friend of the King. The disciples asked to be made great, and Jesus tells them their greatness won’t come in this life. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus asks for mercy and sight, and Jesus gives it to him out of his great compassion. To both his disciples and this beggar, Jesus replies, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What do you want Jesus to do for you? Do you want Jesus to give you the American dream and make you healthy, wealthy, and wise? Do you want everything this world offers and eternal life and a place of authority in the Kingdom? The Rich Ruler, the Disciples, and the blind beggar all wanted different things and Jesus offered them all only one thing: Himself. Are you content with him and the mercy he gives? Do you want Jesus, or only the blessings and prosperity you believe he can give you? Jesus’ compassion is directed toward me and you. His greatest display of his mercy is forgiving people like us and restoring people like us. He is glorified in taking people who have been broken by sin and restoring them. What will Jesus do for you? He will forgive you based on the work he accomplished on the cross. He will make you the person you were created to be and that process will begin now and be completed at the resurrection.

Look at what he has done for you already! Mercy, forgiveness, provision, love, purpose. Who we are and what we have are for his glory and his Kingdom not our own. Be careful of the temptation of thinking of Jesus as existing for our prosperity and pleasure. We exist for his glory and his pleasure. When we live for that end, our lives find their full and true purpose and we experience the peace and joy that comes with it.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Review and Reflect on Mark 9:30-50 (Gospel-Centered Greatness, Part 4)

Jesus points us to the cross to gain proper perspective of greatness. He lays out the path to greatness before us in terms of humility and service. He also teaches that greatness is diverse, being found in different places and in different people. But there is something that hinders us from becoming great. Something that corrupts our desire to be great in God’s eyes and makes us desire to be great in our own eyes. The obstacle to greatness demands a serious response, and Jesus describes this response in Mark 9:42-50.

Here we have strong and confusing words from Jesus. I think it’s best to understand this passage as a parable in the context of Jesus teaching his disciples about greatness. Of course Jesus doesn’t literally mean that we are to maim ourselves. This would go against so much of what he teaches elsewhere about the role of the heart rather than mere external adherence to religious standards. Jesus teaches here that following him means forsaking this world’s understanding of what is great, and also forsaking the things that prevent us from living like people who belong in the Kingdom. In verse 42, Jesus has strong words for someone who would lead children or those who are easily influenced into sin. This passage builds on the previous verses in the overall context of Mark 9:30-50. Those who work in Jesus’ name will have their reward, but if they falsely proclaim Jesus and lead people into sin, their judgment awaits them.

When we consider some of the most horrifying things that we hear about on the news, verses like this give us confidence in the justice of God. But very quickly, Jesus moves to individual application in verses 43 and following. His instruction is that his followers would take serious action regarding our sin. Sin will hinder us from becoming great in the Kingdom of God. Sin hinders us because sin is regarding ourselves not just as important, but as the most important person. So, Jesus gives this parable on how his followers are to purify themselves. Some things must be destroyed so that the more important things can be preserved. This is how salt fits into the context. Salt played an important part in the preservation of food in our world until only recent history. Jesus is saying that purification and preservation are required to enter the Kingdom of God. Drastic measures should be taken to remove the obstacle of sin in our lives so that we might be pure and holy citizens of God’s Kingdom.

Our main obstacle to becoming truly great is our own sinfulness. This applies to those who have already risen to status in life and it applies to those who have very little status in this life. Our own sinfulness twists our desire for greatness and makes it self-centered not others-centered. Our sinfulness causes us to desire wealth, fame, influence for our own pleasure rather than to leverage for the weak, innocent, and downcast. For some, it causes us to avoid becoming great and instead becoming lazy. For others, it causes us to strive for a greatness at all costs leaving chaos in our wake.

The worst part about it is there is nothing we can do to overcome our sinfulness, we need someone to help us out of it. We can’t become great in the Kingdom of God without dealing with our sin and we can’t deal with our sin alone. This is why Jesus has come. His purpose was not to make his followers great in this world, but in the world to come. He subverts the world’s understanding of become great, what someone who is great does, and what hinders greatness. Our sin calls for a serious response. God responded to it by sending his son to pay the penalty for it. God calls us to respond to our sin with repentance. Rather than becoming great, our sin will destroy us, but God makes a way for us to be preserved. Though he is the great King of heaven and earth he humbled himself and went to the cross. He was destroyed for our sin and by our sin, in our place, so that we could be preserved and have life in God’s eternal Kingdom.

God calls us today to believe in this, to embrace what he has done for us, and to align our lives in repentance with him. We will only achieve greatness properly when we understand it in terms of the Gospel: A Gospel-Centered Greatness. We all need to consider who Jesus is and what he has done and how we have responded in our hearts and in our actions. He is the Great King, and he makes a way for us to be great in his Kingdom by believing that he has come and aligning our lives accordingly.

Acknowledgments and Sources.

Review and Reflect on Mark 9:30-50 (Gospel-Centered Greatness, Part 2)

In Jesus’ teaching about a Gospel-Centered Greatness, we saw that his teaching gives us perspective for defining greatness. Any greatness me might pursue or achieve must be understood in reference to the cross of our King who died for us. He also teaches the proper way to achieve greatness. He lays before his followers a new path to greatness in Mark 9:33-37. Jesus’ disciples haven’t figured out what Jesus means when he says he is going to die and rise again. This confuses them, because their understanding of Messiah makes them expect Jesus to overthrow the oppressive Roman government and establish his own. This would get them in on the ground level of this new regime and they would be able to have very important governing positions. They would be great! They would have power, wealth, and influence. But, in complete contradiction to their understanding, Jesus tells his followers the proper way to aspire to being great is not by asserting oneself, but by serving others. In the Kingdom of God, the path to greatness is through humility and servanthood. The disciples didn’t understand the path to greatness was a cross and they were afraid to ask him about it, so Jesus describes for them the proper way to aspire to being great. He makes the Gospel applicable for their daily life. He says, you want to get practical? Humble yourselves and serve.

Greatness in our world is related to status. The way to become great in our world is to be better at what you do than other people. The way we can become great is by influence, or by leadership. You can become great through notoriety or fame. And the path to greatness is whatever will obtain you that status whether it’s right or not. But Jesus says, the way to become great in his eyes is to serve others in our world who don’t have that kind of status.

Everybody works for somebody, and most people have jobs that simply aren’t that glorious. Jesus says those who serve may not have high status in our world, but in the Kingdom of God the greatest ones are the servants. Then he gives his disciples an example in verses 36-37. He places a child in front of them. This seems like an odd thing to do when you are talking about being great. Think of someone you know who is great, who has achieved a high social status and has influence. Do you have that person in mind? Now I would almost guarantee that person is not a child. But in teaching his followers about greatness, Jesus sets a child before them. A child represents the lowest order in the social scale. A child is under authority and under the care of others. In terms of status, a child has none. A child may have a guardian or even belong to the state, but he or she has no rights or status themselves. Jesus sets a child before his followers to teach them about greatness.

Does anyone have authority or power which is not delegated by our sovereign God and Father? Does anyone ultimately have control over his or her own life or security? We love to think in terms of individuality and personal achievement, but God is sovereign over our lives. He numbers our days and determines whether or not the rain will fall. Jesus shows that the difference in our status and the status of a child is only in our minds, not in reality. In reality, we are all dependent, we are all under authority. We are all dependent upon God for sustaining our lives, similar to how a child is dependent upon his or her parents for providing and protecting them. And Jesus says, receiving a child is the same as receiving him. To receive a child is to reverse the conventional value-scale by making the unimportant important. Jesus says if you receive children who are my representatives, you have received me.

In this context, to “receive” is to treat someone as significant rather than ignoring or suppressing them. Jesus uses a child as an example, but it is certainly broader than this. In our culture children are often viewed as either an inconvenience, a new chance at accomplishing the greatness we could never achieve, or a fashion accessory that makes us look good. Christians are supposed to value children as the blessing of God, and accept the responsibility for their training in godliness. People in our workplaces and neighborhoods who are ignored or marginalized are people who Christians are supposed to receive. The insignificant and weak are representative of Jesus to us. Those we naturally push away represent Jesus to us. When we humble ourselves, recognizing our status before God, and welcome these types of people, we have learned how the Gospel works in our daily lives. Our world says we network with the influential to become great. Jesus says we serve the insignificant to become great. Our world says we obtain wealth or influence to become great. Jesus says we become servants for the weak to become great.

In our hearts, we know this is true. The Holy Spirit confirms this within us. But practicing this in daily living is so difficult. Kids are cute and amusing until they get tired, or hungry, or stinky. Loving some people is difficult and requires a lot from us with little return. It’s a good idea, but unless we do it, it remains an idea. Jesus says, when you receive them, you receive me. This is the path to greatness in his eyes.

Acknowledgments and Sources.

Review and Reflect on Mark 9:30-50 (Gospel-Centered Greatness, Part 1)

In Mark 9:30-50, Jesus redefines what it means to be great. Jesus gives us an understanding of Gospel-Centered Greatness. If a person is achieves greatness it means that they have in some way proven themselves superior to others. A great person has achieved a level of wealth, fame, or influence. Greatness isn’t a description we give ourselves, but one others give us. Kenny Rogers had a song in 1999 called “The Greatest“. There is a business book that has been a phenomenal success in the church leadership subculture called “Good to Great“. But, for those of us who are simply trying to love Jesus and other people, we need to understand greatness in Jesus’ terms. Many poeople are more worried about just making it through this life, rather than being great. But that’s the funny thing about the life God gives us in Jesus. We either think to highly of ourselves with pride and arrogance, or we thing to low of our selves forgetting we are created in God’s image and that we are being renewed and restored in that image if we are in Christ. For those of us who are trying to just get through life, Jesus gives us something more than survival; there is a way you can be great in the Kingdom of God. For those who are too arrogant about the status we may have been able to achieve, Jesus redefines greatness so we ought to be careful in our assessment of ourselves. Greatness isn’t something we give ourselves, it’s something others recognize. We can avoid greatness or we can strive for it improperly, but Jesus took an occasion with his disciples to explain how it works in our lives in Mark 9:30-50.

First of all, in verses 30-32 Jesus’ teaching give us perspective for defining greatness. At the end of chapter 8, Jesus told his disciples and a crowd of people if anyone was going to follow him they had to deny themselves and take up their cross. These three verses are a reminder of the nature of what it means to follow Jesus. Here Jesus speaks again about the way in which he is going to rescue Israel, he is going to do it through being rejected and dying, and then rising from the dead. But verse 32 says they still didn’t understand what he was talking about and in spite of their lack of understanding, they didn’t ask him to explain it because they were afraid. Jesus teaches us in chapter 8, here, and in many other places, that greatness is not framed by wealth or success or things this world offers that will not last. We must understand what it means to be great in reference to the Kingdom of God and the work of Jesus. Just because we think ourselves great, doesn’t mean it’s so in the Kingdom of God. Just because we think we could never be great, doesn’t mean it’s so in the Kingdom of God. The Cross enlightens our understanding of what is great. A definition or an understanding of greatness that has not been framed by the Cross of our Lord is a false greatness that is merely temporary. Jesus shows that there are much more important things than our status in this life, and he shows us this by going to the cross himself. He is the King of heaven and earth, yet he humbles himself on a cross. No one is of higher status, yet he humbles himself to the lowest status. And if the King humbles himself, then our understanding of being great ourselves needs to be adjusted.

If you want to be great in the eyes of your King, then be great in reference to the cross. This means our goals and pursuits in this life must be integrated with a thorough understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Our careers, our families, our church, and our own personal aspirations should be guided by Jesus and should have the ultimate goal of honoring Jesus. However high our status might be in this life, it should bring us to humility when we consider the status of our King who humbled himself. And however low our status might be in this life, we find hope in our King who endured a cross to prove his devotion to us. The cross of our Lord frames our pursuit of greatness.

Acknowledgments and Sources.

Review and Reflect on Mark 7:24-30

At this point in the story, Jesus has been continually travelling, teaching, and healing as he has gone about proclaiming the Gospel. When we read “Gospel” in this particular book of the Bible, we are to understand it as Jesus’ message that the promised Time is fulfilled and God’s Kingdom has come close enough to experience. And since chapter 1, we seen that the response we are to have to this message is belief and repentance. Proclaiming this Gospel and calling for this response has been the purpose of Jesus’ ministry. As we began to see in chapter 6, his schedule is wearing on him, and he has tried to take time to get away for rest and refreshment, but people keep showing up. So he leaves town again, but this time he heads out-of-town and goes to a neighboring non-Jewish territory.

First, read Mark 7:24-30.

Verse 24 shows that Jesus retreated to a place to hide, but he couldn’t. Even in the non-Jewish region near the cities of Tyre and Sidon which were along the Mediterranean coast, Jesus’ fame has spread so that he cannot hide. He wasn’t even in the city, but in the vicinity, he was out in the country and his reputation was known there. In verses 25-26 A woman, who was a Gentile (not Jewish), and had a daughter with a demon, which was the mark of uncleanness, comes to Jesus begging for help. These are three strikes against her, yet Jesus hears her.

The fact that he even had a conversation with her went against multiple acceptable norms of his day. Yet, she was in need, so he pauses to hear her. Each time Jesus has addressed the crowds in Israel, or even his disciples, he is met with astonishment. They see what he is doing, and they hear what he is saying, but they have no clue what it means. Yet, here, in a non-Jewish land, Jesus is met by a non-Jewish woman who has understood what he is saying and doing. Verse 26 says that she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And Jesus responds to her in a way that when we hear it we think, “man, that’s harsh”. Partly, this is conducive of the Jew/Gentile relationship in which there is a mutual disregard on racial grounds. The other part is this is a parable. He speaks to her in what may be derogatory, but he doesn’t outright call her a dog, although he uses the example of a dog in the parable.

When we come to Jesus, part of believing and following him is understanding what he says about us. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. A lot of people take offense when they are told that in their hearts and with their actions they have offended God. Our pride often causes us to try to justify ourselves rather than agreeing that our hearts are turned away from God. We say things like, well I’m not as bad as other people, or as bad as I could be. Or “I try to do the right thing” or “I’m nice to people and I help people and do good things”. Just because we are not hateful or as bad as we could be doesn’t mean we haven’t offended God. Our pride causes us to declare that God must accept us, but even this is an affront to God’s holiness. When Jesus says, believe and repent, this is included in what he is talking about. If we are going to follow Jesus, we have to believe what he says about the condition of our lives, and we have to repent from our pride and our attempts at self-justification.

This woman reacts humbly when Jesus compares her with a dog in his parable. She lived in close enough proximity to Jewish people and culture that she would have known that even speaking to Jesus was violating multiple different social and religious customs of the day. (By way of clarification, I’m not saying that women are inferior, but in the culture of 1st century Palestine, women were not treated with equality, to say the least.) She, no doubt, knew well who she was, a woman, a Gentile, and unclean by association with her demon-possessed daughter. This women comes to Jesus because she didn’t allow her inferiority to prevent her from coming to him. She didn’t say to herself, “I’m just not the kind of person that follows Jesus.” She had no thought that he might not accept her. Many people refuse to come to Jesus because they refuse to recognize who they are in light of who he is because of their pride. Other people refuse to come to Jesus because they fully understand who they are and don’t believe that they can be forgiven. They think they are just too sinful, or too messed up for God to love them. This refusal is no different from the refusal of the prideful person. If you don’t believe that God can love you, if you don’t believe that God’s mercy extends to even you, then you have refused it. We are invited to put ourselves in this woman’s shoes. Unclean and unworthy as we may be, we can come boldly to Jesus because his love and mercy are far greater than our estimation of them. We are more wicked than we like to admit, but we are far more loved and have received far more mercy than we would ever hope to believe (Keller).

This is the double-edged sword of responding in belief and repentance to the Gospel of Jesus. We have to agree with what he says about us, but in responding properly we also experience love and mercy like we could never have expected. This woman approaches Jesus with no pride, nor doubting his mercy for a person like her.

About this, Tim Keller writes:

You know why she has this burst of boldness, don’t you? There are cowards, there are regular people, there are heroes, and then there are parents. Parents are not really on the spectrum from cowardice to courage, because if your child is in jeopardy, you simply do what it takes to save her. It doesn’t matter whether you’re normally timid or brazen – your personality is irrelevant. You don’t think twice; you do what it takes. So it’s not all that surprising that this desperate mother is willing to push past all the barriers.

A mother will do what it takes to do whatever needs done for her children. So, Jesus responds to her in this harsh way, because he has come as Israel’s Messiah and she is not Jewish. But this is a sign pointing forward that even though he is Israel’s Messiah, he is not ONLY Israel’s Messiah. In verse 28, she speaks to him about the dogs being able to eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table. The Bread is clearly meant to point to the blessings of the Messiah’s ministry. It is first offered to the Jews, then the Gentiles. But, Jesus’ affection is won by this Gentile or non-Jewish woman. This, along with the healing of the man possessed by an army of demons, and the teaching on the dietary laws (here and here) are all pointing together toward including non-Jews in God’s plan. Those who are not children will eat the Bread as well. The disciples are continually cast in the light of not understanding Jesus’ teachings or actions, but here this woman who is not even Jewish understands Jesus well enough to convince him to help her. It would have been unacceptable for Jesus to enter a gentile house so he pronounces this exorcism even though he is nowhere near the demon-possessed girl. This further shows how Jesus’ word has authority even where he himself is not present.

Verse 28 is the only time in Mark’s Gospel when someone calls Jesus “Lord”. Although this would be a normal way to address a stranger, the fact that this is the only example should call more to our mind. This woman understands Jesus’ authority even better than the men who are his Jewish disciples. This passage is a subversive one to say the least. The woman is a model of humility and faith. She is not Jewish, but she believes in Israel’s Messiah. So this passage seems negative, reads negative, but it’s actually not. She is a sign that the Gentiles will soon have access to the redemption, rescue, and restoration that comes through Israel’s Messiah Jesus.