April 4, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Mark 7-8
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Context: In chapter 7, Mark keeps in mind his Gentile readers and explains several Jewish customs. These Jewish customs were meant to remind the Israelites of their special relationship with the Lord and how they were not to let themselves be influenced by the outside world. The customs, however, had become nothing more than empty rituals ordered by the Pharisees. When the Pharisees question Jesus about His failure to uphold the customs, He quotes from Isaiah. Their actions are outward only and they place more importance on man's rules that God's laws. In contrast, Mark presents the story of a Greek Gentile who came to Jesus, begging that He cast out the evil spirit possessing her daughter. Their exchange can be confusing. The children represent Israel, the chosen people. The dogs represent the Gentiles. Jesus told her that Israel is the chosen nation, yet a time will come for Gentile's salvation. The woman acknowledged the truth of what He said, but believed in God's goodness, that He would provide for all. Her faith saved her daughter. Jesus shows His compassion and consideration for all when heals the deaf and mute man. By touching his ears and then his tongue, Jesus was communicating with the man in a way that the man could understand. We also see His compassion through His concern that the 4,000 people eat before being sent home. Following His miracle, there is another exchange with the Pharisees, who demanded a miracle. Jesus recognized that their hearts were hardened and no matter what He did, they would not believe. In the boat, Jesus warns the disciples against admiring or striving to be like the Pharisees or Herod. When Jesus healed the blind man, it occurred in two stages. It could have been an example of how the disciples were learning and growing in stages. The disciples knowledge was growing, evident by the fact that they recognized Jesus as the Christ. When Jesus first predicts His death to the disciples, He is attempting to tell them that He has not come to be a political savior but a suffering savior. Peter meant well in his actions, but he did not understand God's plan. To go against God was, and is, to stand with Satan.