Study Notes: Mark 7

The story of the gentile woman’s encounter with Jesus in Mark 7:24-30 has been called one of the most difficult biblical passages about the life of Christ. Recently, while reading and re-reading chapter 7, I realized that the story of the gentile woman stands starkly against the immediately preceding story of Jesus’ confrontation with some Pharisees (Mark 7:1-23).

It is a study in contrasts:

A study in contrasts

The two episodes are back-to-back, and they are almost perfectly mirrored:

The pharisees spend days traveling to get to Jesus. In contrast, Jesus spends days traveling and gets to the gentile woman.

The pharisees come from Jerusalem, religious elites from the epicenter of first-century hebrew elitism. In contrast, Jesus goes to the outskirts, the territory of the outsider, Tyre and Sidon, largely inhabited by gentiles.

The pharisees purpose is to correct Jesus on the finer points of religious ceremony. In contrast, the gentile woman’s purpose is to plead with Jesus for the life of her daughter.

Borrowing Jesus’ illustration of a family meal, the pharisees’ presume themselves sons at God’s table. In contrast, the gentile woman presumes herself lowly before Jesus.

The pharisees receive unequivocal rebuke. In contrast, the gentile woman receives everything she asked for — bread from God’s table.

These contrasts demonstrate some of the fundamentals of the Christian good news:


  1. Mark 2:17

  2. Reminds me of the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16.

  3. Jesus’ satisfying work is so absolute that leftovers are commonplace. C.f. Mark 8:19, John 10:10, Psalm 23:5


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July 3, 2016 · church · writing · by luke · bible · study notes

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