Lesson 63: Jesus Took the Apostles on a Trip to the North
Matthew 15:21-39, Mark 7:24--8:10
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson #63. In our last lesson we learned Jesus' attitude about the traditions of the elders, that the Pharisees consider as binding as^ scripture. Jesus called them hypocrites (in Matt. 15:7), i.e. actors, one who imitates. Jesus said it was written in Isaiah, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." And we said at the close of our lesson that it's the heart, or the inner-man, that counts, i.e in the Christian religion. The Law of Christ is based upon this inner-man principle. Also, John emphasized in John 7:1 that at that time the Jews sought to kill Jesus. So, Jesus undoubtedly stayed away from large crowds. He took the apostles to some secluded places during that period; where He could talk to the apostles alone. This would seem a very natural thing to me. Some refer to this as retirement. Others use the word "retreat." Obviously it was NOT a vacation. Luke and John gloss over this; but, Matthew and Mark touch upon a thing or two that took place in the summer of AD 32. Let's begin our reading with Matt. 15:21. We'll read eight verses. Beginning in Matt. 15:21, are you ready? "Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crums which fall from their master's table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, 0 woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour."
O.K. before we read Mark's account, you should take a minute to look at your MAP-WORKSHEET. We came across Tyre and Sidon a time or two before. People from those cities came to the sermon on the mount according to Luke 6:17. Jesus said in Matt. 11:21 that if the works he done in Israel had been done in Tyre and Sidon, "they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." So, you should have Tyre posted on your map, it's city # 12, it's near the top-center of your map. Sidon was a little farther north. Your map just misses Sidon by being maybe a quarter of an inch too short. Now, you must realize the place where Jesus and his apostles went was in that general region, not necessarily in those cities.
Alright, let's read Mark's account. Mark 7:24-30. That follows the material we covered in our last lesson. Are you ready? Mark 7:24 beginning. "And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into a house, and would have no man know it: but he could not be hid. For a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed."
As was said before, Jesus sought a place where he could give private instruction to the apostles. Mark said they "entered into
a house, and would have no man know it..." But, THEN Mark adds, "but he could not be hid." In other words, so many people had seen Jesus and his apostles during his public ministry, that it was virtually impossible to find a place where they were not recognized. So, a certain woman (Mark said) heard of him. The woman is described as a Greek, a Syrophoencian, and a woman of Canaan. The point you want to get IS SIMPLY, she was NOT a Jew. She WAS a Gentile, and that word "Gentile" simply MEANS a non-Jew. "She besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter." (Mark, v.26). We've talked about demons possession before; so, your concept is surely as good as mine as to the condition of the little girl. The mother undoubtedly perceived the condition of her daughter as reaching crisis proportion. In Matt. 15:22, the lady is quoted as saying, "my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil." How she had heard of Jesus, we don't know. But, she was convinced beyond doubt that Jesus COULD restore her daughter, if he would. It says she cried out to him, she fell at his feet, i.e. she was begging Jesus. But, Jesus ignored her and went his way. This conduct on the part of the woman GOT ON the apostles' nerves and they besought Jesus, "Send her away!", i.e. heal the woman1 daughter just to get this lady out of the way. Remember these apostles had also receive spiritual powers to cast out devils before they had made their tour two by two over Galilee. But, being with Jesus they were students, i.e. a disciple, so they waited for Jesus to take the initiative. But, Jesus explained to the apostles (remember now, Jesus ignored the woman); He explained to the apostles (Matt. 15:24), "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of Israel." O.K., now, what does that mean? Do you remember back in Matt. 10:5, when Jesus sent the apostles out on the limited commission; the first thing Jesus said to the apostles was, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles...but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." And, don't forget the Jews and the Gentiles stayed away from each other like the plague. Ordinarily, they simply ignored each other. Do you remember the Samaritan woman at the well? (John 4:9)? "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me...?" They usually didn't even speak, you see. But, Jesus conversation at the well established that even the Samaritan woman understood there would be a messiah come, i.e. she expected a messiah, if you remember. This Syrophoencian woman ALSO had SOME UNDERSTANDING of the Jewish hope. Did you notice in Matt. 15:22, when she was crying to Jesus, she referred to Jesus as "0 Lord, thou Son of David"? So, you must understand; it was not a lack of compassion that caused Jesus to ignore the woman. But, it was the divine plan that Jesus' personal ministry be confined to the Jews. This again goes back to fulfilling of O.T. prophecy. Yet, I trust you remember in that dialogue Jesus had with the Jews in the synagogue of Capernaum, John 6:51, Jesus said, "and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Now, listen at that one more time: "I WILL GIVE for the life of the world." You see, that international aspect was still future. So, that's the reason Jesus refused the Canaanite woman in silence.
But, Mark and Matthew undoubtedly recorded this; because, it was an unusual case, you see. What made it unusual? Jesus ultimately granted the lady's request. Matt. 15:25 says she worshipped Jesus saying, "Lord, help me." That's when Jesus turned to the woman and explained to her, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to the dogs." That was a parabolic way of saying, Jesus was sent to the Jews (as we've discussed) and therefore, it was not appropriate for Jesus to extend his ministry to the Gentiles. Bro. McGarvey points out that the TERM Jesus used for "dog" is not the degrading term that was some times used. The term used here means a pet or a domesticated form. So, you need to understand, Jesus did not try to degrade the woman in his comment. Nevertheless, the woman understood Jesus' explanation, i.e. the distinction in Jews and Gentiles. She didn't question that distinction and she accepted Jesus' explanation. But, she used Jesus' parable to ask in effect; Lord, couldn't you just give me a crumb from the table and she showed that even in his parable, the dogs got crumbs from the table. So, since the woman understood and accepted it in it proper context; Jesus, restored the daughter and commented "0 woman, great is thy faith." Undoubtedly this will remind you of the centurion's servant at Capernaum that Jesus healed. The centurion was also a Gentile, possibly a proselyte, I don't know. But, you will remember that Jesus marveled and said, "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel." (Matt. 8:10).
O.K. Let's read more in Matthew. Three more verses. Beginning in Matt. 15:29, are you ready? "And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them: insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel."
Alright, let's go for Mark. About 7 verses, Mark 7:31-37, and that finishes of Mark ch. 7. Are you ready? Beginning in Mark 7:31. "And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."
O.K. a brief look at your map will help you to see that Jesus and the apostles went eastward from the Great Sea and crossed over the head waters of the Jordan and then came south on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. Decapolis mentioned in Mark 7:31 is approximately the same as Gadara or the country of the Gadarenes as it is referred to in Mark 5:1; where Jesus healed the demoniac man. Decapolis was a Greek word meaning, ten cities. I mentioned this before; it had been a confederation of cities sometime in the past. We posted that location on your map as # 15. This may not be the same people that requested Jesus to depart out of their coasts because of the swine incident; but, if it is not the same people it isn't too far away. It was a mixture of Jew and Gentile residents. I would assume this occasion was pretty much an example of what happened IN many, many places as Jesus and the disciples traveled from place to place. There is a good close-up, so-to-speak of Jesus healing the deaf man. That big word in v.34 of Mark's account is an Aramaic word. In other words, the exact word Jesus used; and then Mark translates the word. Again, Jesus requested the people to tell no man, v.36. That, of course, had to do with John 7:1.
Let's read some more. Beginning in Matt. 15:32 and we'll complete the chapter. Another big feeding. Are you ready? Matt. 15:32. "Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said. Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. And he sent away the multitude, and took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala." O.K. there really isn't much here to comment upon that isn't repetitive of something we've already covered some place or another. This is a continuation of what we've already covered today. It happened some place northeast of the Sea of Galilee in what Mark described as Decapolis. So, let's get Mark's account. This is the first ten verses of Mark ch. 8. Can you find that? Let's begin in Mark 8:1. Are you ready? "In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and having nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from afar. And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha."
O.K. V.2 does not mean they went three day without food. They had been with Jesus for three days and had probably run out of supplies. The point at the end of v.3 is that a few had travel great distances. Can you imagine a three day camp-meeting with Jesus, on a wilderness mountain? These people were more or less the back-woods society of Israel. It's interesting that Jesus as well as John the Baptist seemed to appreciate working with that kind of people the most. What did Jesus preach and teach during that three day camp-meeting? Surely, you will answer that, he told them about the coming kingdom, and explained that inner-man principle. I would agree, and maybe some good parables? But, neither Matthew nor Mark gave us the slightest hint as to Jesus' speech content on that occasion. Notice, that during the miraculous feed, Jesus gave to the apostles and the apostles gave to the people. That's somewhat the way this spiritual food called the New Testament came down to us, also. Have you thought about that? Those people on the mountain "did eat, and were filled..." Seven baskets were taken up. That spiritual food called the N.T. is sufficient also. Jesus and the apostles left the area by a ship. They went over to the west side of the Sea of Galilee. We'll post that in our next lesson. Have a good day.