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About this series
How Jesus Chose to Change the World
What does it mean to be a real disciple of Jesus? Through this new series based in the Gospel of Mark, Chip breaks down this complex idea, by using the simple lessons Jesus taught His followers. We'll learn how characteristics like commitment, humility, and trust - set genuine Christ followers apart. Chip helps us better understand how we can avoid sin, grow in our walk with Christ, and just as important, help others mature in their faith as well. Don't miss how real disciples of Jesus, can radically change our world.More from this series
We’ve got churches, eighty-five percent of the churches in America are shrinking. You know why? Because they are more concerned with keeping things as they are – don’t rock the boat.
The greatest message in the world, our message is God has come, He lives among us, and if you have a sin problem – ha, ha, ha – we all do, there’s a way out. He forgives. That message has been entrusted to institutions where eighty-five percent of them in America are shrinking. You know why? Because those churches are more concerned about having it their way and staying comfortable rather than getting out on the cutting edge and doing things differently.
The doctrine stays the same; everything else is up for grabs. Period. We’ll worship on Saturday night, Monday night, Thursday morning. I don’t think God cares. We’ll worship when people can come. The style of music five years from now may be totally different. The methods of ministry, children’s, youth, five years from now it may be totally different. You know why? Because our commitment is to love people, care for people, and honor God. And the methods always have to change.
In business, if your methods don’t change, what happens? You go bankrupt. In churches, you just die. The Church is dying for change. Now, let’s find out if this external adherence doesn’t really make you right with God, what does? Jesus will explain it to His disciples.
“He went on to say,” in verse 20, “‘What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean.’” Not what goes in, not the list, not the rules, not the externals. Tradition always focuses on the externals. Truth always focuses on the internals.
“For from within, out of a man’s heart,” and now we have a list only here. It’s the broadest list in the New Testament from the very lips of Christ. If you want to know what separates you and me from God, there is the list. It’s not the rules you keep. Instead, “Out of men’s heart comes evil thoughts.”
The word means just a broad spectrum of evil. “Sexual immorality,” a broad word. You name the type of sexual immorality, this word says on the canopy that it can fall under. “Theft, murder, adultery, greed,” the passion to have more, to compare, more is better, I’ve got to have it, it makes me significant.
“Malice,” that ill feeling, that bitterness in relationships, the desire for harm to come to so-and-so or so-and-so. People have hurt you; people have cheated you. Ex-in-laws, ex-mates, parents – that malice in our hearts that says, “Well, gosh, down deep I’ll be so happy if something happens to them, because they deserve it after what they did to me.” That defiles you and defiles me.
“Deceit,” the little things, the cheating, the little lies, the “white lies”, the trying to have it both ways at work, the padding of expense accounts. Sales presentations you know aren’t totally true, but you do it to get the sale. That’s defiling.
Fantasies, “Lust, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.” In our day, some of us think that, I come to church. Great. I made it three out of four weeks this month. I prayed three out of four days. Reading the Bible more often. Oh man, way to go! I can’t hardly stand it. I’m starting to give regularly and boy is that tough and I’m trusting God. Fantastic. So why is God upset that I’m sleeping with my girlfriend? Because He is a holy God and He is not impressed with you or me or the Pharisees keeping the rules.
I spent the first three years of my Christian life reading through the New Testament, because I didn’t understand the Old Testament so I kept doing the New one, you know? I never read the Bible until I was eighteen and the first three or four times through I kept reading, looking at myself like a disciple thinking, Oh, you know, like the cowboy, old cowboy movies you watch, you always identify with the good team? The guys with the white hats?
You know what I learned? I started reading through the New Testament and started identifying with the Pharisees and I got an education, because I was a lot more like the Pharisees than I was like the disciples. And God started to do a work in my life.
See, it’s your heart God is after. And if He has your heart, trust me, you’ll be in the Word. You’ll give graciously, not because you have to. And your life will be different. He wants my heart and He wants yours.
There’s nothing wrong with liturgy. There’s nothing wrong with candles, nothing wrong with robes, but left to ourselves, our tradition snuffs out the truth. And what God wants us to do is be people of truth and honesty. Admit when we blow it, significantly change; to say I’m sorry to people on the jobsite, in our home; to be vulnerable and open when we blow it. Keep taking the steps so God can say, You’re inadequate, you have need, you have hurt. Great. That’s what grace is all about. That’s the kind of people that I always bless. “My strength is perfected” – how? “in your weakness.”
Now Jesus does something that is absolutely incredible. The author wants to make a point. The tradition of man has been demonstrated. The theme, obviously, is the tradition of man versus the truth of God in this section. And now the truth of God is going to be demonstrated. He is going to give us three quick snapshot miracles.
In miracle number one, He is going to say there is nothing externally that can defile a person. The ethnic origin of this lady is hated by the Jews. I mean, hated by the Jews. And He’s going to do something for her that He didn’t do for a lot of Jews.
And then the second miracle, He’s going to demonstrate that internal defilement, something wrong with us, a handicap or something the Jews would say, “You know, that guy is off, isn’t he?” He’s going to say no. In fact, I don’t even feel rejected. He’s going to be so bold to even touch him on his tongue.
And then finally, He’s going to open the gates and this whole next section, verses 24 through chapter 8:10 all occurs, guess where. If you look up the cities on the map, they all occur in the heart of the Gentile area.
Mark is telling his readers, Jesus came, yes, for the Jews first, absolutely. But who for? The whole world. Notice how he makes these points. These are illustrations of what has just been taught by the Lord.
Verse 24, “Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.” Up north. “He entered a house and didn’t want anyone to know it;” He’s out of the Jewish section and looks like He’s trying to get a break, “yet He could not keep His presence secret. In fact, as soon as He heard about it, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and she fell at His feet. The woman was a Greek,” or a Gentile, “born in Syrian Phoenicia,” which is present day Lebanon. And they hated them.
I mean, the Samaritans were bad news; these people were just yuck. Their slang term for them was dogs. Matthew 15, here it says she begged. From Matthew 15, the parallel passage, she begged and said, “Oh Lord, Son of David.” She recognized Him, unlike the Jews, as the Jewish Messiah. I mean, He did all the miracles, He had the teaching. “You’re the Messiah. Oh Lord, Son of David,” she cries. And what does she ask? “Please drive the demon out of my daughter.” That’s her request.
Now, Jesus in faithfulness to His mission to the Jew first and then also to the Greek or the Gentile says, “First,” priority, “let the children eat all they want.” Children are the Jews. First, Hey lady, the first priority in my ministry is for the Jews. And He goes on to say, “For it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
It literally means the little puppies. And they had outside dog pets. And they would eat with their hands. And when they got done, there were crumbs everywhere and they would just push it off the table and let all the little dogs come in and they would clean it up. Now, this passage has gotten Jesus in trouble. Many people think, “Boy, how harsh.”
Well, what He was saying is, Look, ma’am, you’re right about Me. I am the Jewish Messiah. And My first priority is to ministry to the Jews. Because it’s not right to take that first priority and give it to you Gentiles, to you “puppies” if you will. And I think you’ve got to hear the tone of His voice.
And I don’t think He was, “Hey, I’m for the Jews! Get out of here, lady!” You know, that’s not Jesus. I think it was, “Hey, there is priority in ministry here. This is the plan.” And then He gets absolutely delighted. Listen to the response.
“Yes, Lord,” I wish more Jews were saying that, “she replied, ‘but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’” Do you hear what she is saying? Two things. Humility and faith. Hey, if You have a priority and I’m a second-class citizen in terms of how You want to meet the needs and fulfill the Father’s plan, hey, I’ll be second-class. But don’t the little puppies get to eat? Shrewd response. Jesus was thrilled.
You’ve got the Pharisees over here that know everything from the law and all these rules and all this jazz and they rub up against people and they reject Him. And here’s a woman who breaks out of all the prejudice and Jesus saying, “You may be a woman initiating conversation,” culturally unacceptable. “You may be a Gentile and of the most hated race of the Gentiles, but your external defilement in the eyes of a Jew doesn’t hold water when you come in humility and simple faith.” Because that is what God is looking for. The heart.
So, notice what He does. “He then told her, ‘For such a reply,’” because of what it indicated, “‘you may go home; the demon has left your daughter.’ She went home and found her daughter lying on a bed, and the demon was gone.”
External defilement of any kind, He says, That’s not the basis for relationship with Me. It’s from the heart, humility, and faith.
Next quick picture, the healing of the deaf and the dumb man. Verse 31, “Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre, through Sidon, down through the Sea of Galilee, into the region of the Decapolis.” Okay, it’s a Gentile region. Remember when He healed the demoniac, where did He send him? Back into Decapolis to tell what God had done for him. From this passage, it sounds like he did a good job. A lot of people knew.
“There some people, and they brought a man to Him who was deaf and could hardly talk. And they begged Him to place His hand on the man. After He took him aside, away from the crowd,” now notice. A Jew is not going to even touch a Gentile. Notice what Jesus does. “He put His fingers into the man’s ears.” That’s pretty intimate. “Then He spit and He touched the man’s tongue. Then He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means ‘Be opened!’). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it. The people were overwhelmed with amazement.”
The words here only in the New Testament. It means they were hyper, super, abundantly amazed and bewildered. In the perfect tense meaning it happened and it continued to happen. They couldn’t believe who He was, what He did. They were convinced.
Then notice what happens. Their commentary on the life of Christ, “He has done all things well. He makes even the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.”
Notice the strategy of the author. He teaches on internal versus external defilement; quotes Isaiah and says it’s the heart. Then He goes over here with a woman who is clearly out of bounds by the culture and says, “Faith and humility. I accept her.” And then He takes a man and he is totally out of bounds; he’s got an impairment. Remember when the fellow had blindness? And what was the Jewish mindset? Even the disciples said, “Hey, Jesus, would You tell us who sinned? Was it this guy or his folks?” And Jesus said, “Guys, you’ve got a little misunderstanding, but it’s for the glory of God.”
See, anybody with this kind of a – they were unclean. And Jesus, He could have just spoken a word and made him like that. What did He do? It’s like He’s rubbing it in their face.
“Hey, he won’t make me dirty!” is what He is saying. And He sticks His hands and His fingers and then spits and puts it right on his tongue.
And you know what He’s saying to us? There are no unclean people. People with orange hair and earrings here and earrings up here and people who come from all kind of different lifestyles, there’s nothing about their exterior that can make them unclean! And the Church of Jesus Christ needs to love them unconditionally and build bridges and care the way He did. That’s His message. His message is it’s for everyone.
In fact, the author finally in sort of a crescendo, the next ten verses is going to give a great example. Verse 1, chapter 8. “During these days another large crowd gathered.” He’s right in the middle of the heart of the Gentile region. “Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples and said to them, ‘I have compassion for these people; for they have been with Me already three days and they have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.’ His disciples answered, ‘But where in this remote place can we get enough bread to feed them?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’” You know, He keeps working on them.
Where’s your focus, guys? On what you have or what you don’t have? “‘Seven,’ they replied. He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When He had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, He broke them, gave them to the disciples to set before the people, and they did so. Then He took a few small fish as well, and He gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. The people,” all these Gentiles, “ate and were satisfied.” That’s an historical event; they were fed. It was a real need. He did it for the Jews – five thousand, remember?
But I think the author clearly in the context of this passage wants us to know that these Gentiles, these unclean people that the religious elite won’t even get near, Jesus says, “I came. I’m the bread of life.
So they can eat and be satisfied. ’ll take care of their sin. I’ll give meaning to their life. I bring forgiveness to them all.” In fact, as it goes on, I think the author really rubs it in. “Afterwards, the disciples picked up seven baskets full of broken pieces that were left over.”
Now, it’s interesting. Same author, we looked at five thousand Jews being fed. How many baskets left? Twelve baskets left over. Except the word for baskets was a term for a Jewish small basket with a small neck and they were carried on the side for your daily provisions.
This time, he feeds four thousand people in a Gentile area, and the word for baskets is what Gentiles used and it was a large, big basket kind of like a laundry, one of those laundry things. It’s the very same word when Paul was hoisted over the wall. It’s big enough for a man to get inside of.
What’s he saying? Now, I don’t want to push too much into the numbers, but I think He fed the Jews and had twelve baskets left over. Twelve tribes. “I have come for all the Jews, whosoever will.” He feeds the Gentiles seven baskets. The number of perfection, of completeness. He is saying, “I have come for the whole world – Jew, Gentile alike –
so they can eat and be satisfied.
I don’t care what they look like, I don’t care what rules they don’t or do follow, what I care about is their heart. If they will come in humility and faith like this woman, if they will sit at My feet and learn of Me and be taught and respond, I’ll heal them. I’ll feed them.” That’s His message for us.
How are you doing? Where did this passage start out? How are you doing? Are you a hypocrite? Are you focusing on the rules? Does God have your heart? Do you unconsciously, like me, justify yourselves by these external little things you do and think that makes you right with God? Is there some things of the heart that Jesus talked about in your business life? In your financial life? Is there bitterness in relationships? Are there little closets of lust and fantasy? That’s what defiles you and me. That’s what God wants to get rid of. That’s what He wants to transform in your life and mine. That’s what brings us to the Savior.
Contrast: Pharisees with rules who miss the boat; needy people rejected by others who come in faith. The Church of Jesus Christ can transform this world when we are the latter instead of the former. But we long for the truth and make whatever changes we need to make to reach out and love people, refusing to be strangled by tradition.