Category Archives: Mission

Mark 7:24-37 A dog and a deaf man

Discussion question:

Look up a map of places Jesus went in the gospels. How big is the region that he visited?

Read Mark 7:24-37


Jesus and the twelve disciples have been travelling from village to village, teaching and healing. Great crowds have gathered around Jesus and he and the disciples seem to be finding little rest.

In Mark 5 Jesus was in the Decapolis (meaning ten cities) where he cast out demons from a man and the people asked Jesus to leave them.

The theme of defiling appeared in the last section. Pharisees and teachers of the law were instructing people on how to stay clear of sin but Jesus says that sin starts from within us. All kinds of evils come from inside and defile a person. For example, contact with a non-Jew was regarded as a source of defilement but Jesus taught the truth about sin: it comes from within.



  • 24-30 Jesus goes to the Gentiles
    • 24-26 The Syro Phoenician
    • 27-30 Begging for crumbs
  • 31-37 Jesus opens ears
    • 31-32 Begging for a hand
    • 33-37 Be opened!

24-30 Jesus goes to the Gentiles

“Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.” Leaving the conversation with the Jews, Jesus goes to a place at the outskirts of Israel. Jewish leaders had come from Jerusalem and talked to him about defilement (Mark 7:1). Jesus called them hypocrites because they were discarding the word of God and listening to the rules of men. These were the teachers of Israel. Jesus left them and went to Tyre. Tyre is at the northern most border of Israel, with Sidon just above it. Jesus has walked out to the boundary of the promised land (Joshua 19:29).

Being so close to Israel, Tyre has a particular history with the Jews. In the days of Joshua, they marked the boundary of Israel. In the days of Solomon, they provided wood for the building of the temple. But across the pages of the Old Testament there are warnings against Tyre. They represent the final remnant of the Philistines who were the enemies of Israel (remember Goliath!). 

“…entered a house and did not want anyone to know it…” Jesus was not all about raising attention but we may ask why did he venture far north? Was it for rest? We might conclude this but it’s not clear. Who did he stay with? We don’t know. I’m reminded of the story of Elijah the prophet who stayed in the house of a widow in the same region – the region of Sidon (1 Kings 17). The faithfulness in Israel was lacking and Elijah stayed with a foreign widow and healed her son.

“…could not keep his presence secret. In fact…” The woman did not hesitate to come to Jesus when she heard about him in the region. It is like Isaiah 34:1 says, “come near, you nations, and listen; pay attention, you peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, the world, and all that comes out of it!” Sounds good doesn’t it? But Isaiah 34 goes on to talk about how God is angry at the nations. What will Jesus do in response to this woman?

“The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia.” She is not a Jew. We might like to contrast her with the men who gathered around Jesus in Mark 7:1. Jesus had called them hypocrites.

“She begged Jesus…” She did not treat Jesus as an equal or that she deserves anything from him. She humbled herself. She is desperate.

“…it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” This is a very hard thing to hear from Jesus. Is he calling her a dog!!?! Yep. Is this the Jesus you know? Well, he is speaking with her using a parable to engage with her. If the children of Israel are natural heirs, she is not an heir and so how is she represented? Jesus chooses to use a dog in his analogy.

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” Now, before we unpack this, it would be well to remember that you and I are not biological Jews (most likely you are not). In the Anglican Prayer Book we say, “we do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your abundant and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under your table; but you are the same Lord whose nature it is to always have mercy.” We create this prayer from the humble position of the woman in this story. The woman was shown her place in the mercies of God but she uses the parable of Jesus to be bold and reply to him.

“For such a reply…” The woman has testified to the mercy of God and that even the scraps are better than nothing.

31-37 Jesus opens ears

“Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon…” The regions at the outskirts of Israel. His stay in Tyre was brief with only one event worth recording by Mark.

“…the region of the Decapolis…” Last time Jesus was there, he drove out demons from a man and the people of that area begged Jesus to leave them (Mark 5:17) But the healed man began to tell everyone in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him (Mark 5:20).

“…they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.” The people who had driven Jesus away were now begging Jesus to heal again. They brought a man who was deaf and hardly able to speak. While this is a fact, it also resembles the spiritual state of our world. The world needs their ears opened to hear the word of God and then be able to speak it. The people of the Decapolis have benefited from the open mouth of the demon possessed man and now they are coming to Jesus in faith.

“…away from the crowd…” What follows is a very private and intimate healing. The point of which is the man being restored rather than a public spectacle.

“…fingers into the man’s ears…spit and touched the man’s tongue…deep sigh…” The healing is very earthy and tactile. When the Syro-Phoenician woman had her plea answered, Jesus did it remotely – no spectacle. But here, we have Jesus right in the man’s face. Why? Couldn’t Jesus have just healed him with the touch of his clothes or a simple word? Why take him aside and be so intimate with him? Many will answer that this shows Jesus’ tenderness toward the man who cannot hear or speak. Jesus used a method that the man could understand. Even the ‘sigh’ is a deep exhale that the deaf man would see is Jesus praying. This seems ok to me but I wonder if there is more? 

Isaiah 35:4–6 “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

This is why the miracle is pronounced with the words of Jesus: “Be opened!”

Our God has come. He has not remained distant and healed with him mighty hand from heaven but he has drawn near. He is opening the ears of the deaf and he is unmuting the tongue so they may shout for joy! Jesus is God come in the flesh to save us. And look what happens next:

“Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking…” Ok, they were not being obedient but how about that the mute were shouting for joy! They couldn’t stay quiet.

“He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Mark is making sure that we have understood this point. Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah.

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. Who had gathered around Jesus in Mark 7:1 and what was Jesus’ conclusion about them (Mark 7:6-8)?

Q2. Where is Tyre and Sidon? How is the woman described in Mark 7:26? How is she different to the people of Mark 7:1?

Q3. Who are the ‘children’ that Jesus refers to in Verse 27?

Q4. Given that Jesus shows mercy on the woman and her daughter, what is the point of Verses 24-30?

Q5. How did the people of the Decapolis treat Jesus last time he was there? (See Mark 5:17-20)

Q6. How did they respond to Jesus now?

Q7. If Jesus was able to heal from a distance or by having people touch his clothes, why the detail of Verses 33-35?

Q8. Read Isaiah 35:4-6. How is Jesus fulfilling scripture? Does this help answer Question 7?


The leaders of Israel were not teaching the word of God to the people and had no understanding of sin. The Word of God who had come to them was a mystery to them. But when Jesus goes abroad to the outskirts of Israel, he shows that the kingdom of God is being readied for the whole world to receive him. He is God come to us so that the nations will sing for joy. The world that was deaf to God’s word will be opened and the mute who are unable to speak God’s word can now rejoice that the gospel is unleashed.


Challenge#1 Must love dogs

Jesus showed mercy to the outsider. After the resurrection, the Gentiles became the focus of God’s mission in the world. Jesus had come to bring eternal life to the children of Israel but he knew that the gospel would go to the nations (Acts 1:8). God’s mission has always been global, but the Jews had failed to see that. When we stop and consider that we are the nations – not Jews – then we have received the mercy of God that we do not deserve. We are the dogs that God loves.

Challenge#2 Be opened!

The gospel message is opened for all to hear. It’s not for one race. It’s not for one gender. It’s not for the elite or the special. It is for all who will listen and be amazed at Jesus. Once the world lived in darkness and once you and I were in darkness. But the light of God has come to shine light into our hearts. The man from the Decapolis had a private encounter with Jesus and his life was forever changed. May we pray for more to come and hear the message of Jesus and have their ears opened and their tongues loosed!

Challenge#3 No longer beggars

The woman begged Jesus and the people of Decapolis begged Jesus. He has come to bring healing to the nations with generosity and joy. All are welcome to come to him and enjoy our relationship with God.

Mark 6:1-13 – Home and Away

Discussion question:

Where do you feel most at home? Ie, welcomed and relaxed.

Read Mark 6:1-13


Jesus has been travelling from town to town to preach the word – for that is why he came (1:38). He has crossed over the lake a few times and healed on many occasions. Chapter 5 concluded with the healing of Jairus’ daughter.



  • 1-6 At home – the prophet without honour
    • 1-3 The Nazarenes are amazed
    • 4-6 Jesus is amazed
  • 7-13 And away – the disciples are sent
    • 7 Two by two are sent
    • 8-11 Received or rejected
    • 12-13 Preaching and healing

1-6 At home – the prophet without honour

“Jesus left there and went to his hometown…” He grew up in Nazareth (Matt 2:23) but then actually moved to Capernaum (Matt 4:13). Mark alludes to Capernaum as his home in Mark 2:1 but Luke 4:16-23 has a very similar story which is clearly located in Nazareth. The responses from the people in Verse 3 clearly make this Nazareth.

“…many who heard him were amazed.” His teaching is the object of contention in the story. Mark 6:5-6 will conclude that he could not perform miracles in this town because of their lack of faith but notice that the problem is revealed in their response to his teaching.

“…this man… the carpenter… Mary’s son… brother of… and… his sisters…” This crowd kept Jesus linked to his earthly ties and childhood. Despite the incredible teaching that amazed them, they could not separate the prophet from the boy. It takes humility to allow someone to speak into your world – especially if that person was once a snotty little kid.

“And they took offense at him.” Despite their amazement, they were offended. ‘How dare you speak to us like that!’ is the kind of attitude that they had. ‘Don’t you tell me how to read the bible, I’ve been doing this since before you were born!’ Arrogance, pride and unkindness is their spirit.

“A prophet is not without honour…” This part of his sentence means that a prophet can receive credit and respect. They are doing the work of God and a worker deserves his wage etc (1 Tim 5:18). In the next section, Jesus will tell his disciples to accept hospitality and gifts from those who are willing to house you.

“…except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” It is hard to separate the earthly person from the heavenly wisdom that they teach. We see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life, but it was apparently difficult for his hometown to see him any differently. He was just one of them! It’s easy to see this played out in our world. It’s way easier to listen to a teacher and preacher who has been brought in from over seas for a big conference than it is to listen to an elder or preacher in the church. But don’t we share the same Holy Book – the word of God! These Nazarenes were literally staring the Word of God in the face and still were not impressed. But when the truth is spoken, it is our job to hear it and respond in faith.

“He could not do any miracles there…” God is God and can do whatever he wants. But in God’s wisdom, he desires for us to respond to him. This is the relationship we have with God. He wishes for it to be a two way street. The grace of God does not mean that we do nothing. Jesus preached ‘repent’ and so repent is what we do. Jesus taught the Nazarenes from the word and they responded by being offended. His words offended them. They had no faith, no time for him in the long run and Jesus was therefore helpless to help them.

NB: the bible is not teaching us to have great faith in order to see healings. It is rebuking the people for having no faith. They dismissed Jesus.

7-13 And away – the disciples are sent

“Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.” Mark 1:38 all over again.

“Calling the Twelve to him…” This is to literally call them. Two by two so that he chose who would go first and with whom. It was an orchestrated mission. He didn’t just throw them out into the lion’s mouths but directed the mission. The Twelve were listed in Mark 3:13-19. 

“…and gave them authority over impure spirits.” Let’s not think that casting out spirits and healing people is a normal practice in church ministry. Jesus sent them out to be involved in the same type of mission that he was involved in: preaching that people repent and accompanied with miracles.

“Take nothing…” No food or money. Just sandals and what they wore. As people receive their message, they will be provided for – not miraculously but as an outflow of the people’s understanding and acceptance of the gospel.

“…dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” The disciples will not just leave quietly when unwelcomed but will leave a visible display that the town has rejected God as they are rejecting God’s messengers.

“…they…preached…” Again, this is key. Coming to Jesus is not primarily about healing, it is about the gospel. The healing was to testify that Jesus and the disciples came in the power of God. We have the complete scriptures to preach and teach. There is no need for signs. The scriptures are testimony enough for all that God has done and declared.

“They drove out many demons…” The disciples were given the same signs that Jesus used. Demonic activity was clearly a thing during the ministry of Jesus. A spiritual sign that demonstrates how absent from the Word of God Israel had become.

“…and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” A practice that was not always accompanied with healing. Jesus did not do this and many healings recorded in the NT did not include oil. James 5:14 mentions it and seems to be more of an outward sign than anything medicinal or indeed magical! Just as water made no spiritual difference to a baptism.

Suggested questions for running this study.

Q1. Discuss what amazed the people from Jesus’ hometown.

Q2. What amazed Jesus about them? What is the central issue here?

Q3. What instructions did Jesus give to the disciples for their mission?

Q4. Who would be at fault if a town did not receive the disciples?

Q5. Bringing it all together, what should we expect will happen when we share our faith?


People will embrace the gospel or reject it. Apathy is a kind of rejection. But the response to the gospel will not be dependant on the preacher (assuming the preacher is being faithful to the word). Even Jesus was rejected and had to leave towns without seeing big results. The disciples were warned that they may need to leave a town in disgust but we are told that they actually healed many people as they preached. But preaching the word was what people actually responded positively and negatively to. It is the primary goal of our mission – to preach and call people to repent.


Challenge#1 To be struck by the bible but then not care

How incredible is it that Jesus was in the midst of the Nazarenes and they were amazed at his teaching but then quickly rejected it all. They were too grounded in the things of this world to realise that they had the words of eternal life being offered to them. How do you respond to the word of God?

Challenge#2 Share the gospel to everyone

It’s so easy to predict how people may respond to Jesus and then decide whether to speak or stay silent based on our assumptions. Jesus taught his disciples to put themselves out there and see who would receive them.

Challenge#3 Embrace the gospel worker

We have so many people we can support in mission. Our CMS link missionaries, our CAHSM workers, our ministers. The things of this earth are fleeting but the word of God stands forever. It makes sense to invest in eternal work. How can you be generous for the gospel?

Commandment #3 – The Lord’s Name

Note to leaders: while the content below helps you build a knowledge of this topic for the study, it will be helpful to work out what bits you go through with your group and which bits you might put aside to use only if it comes up and time permits.

The opening question addresses how we commonly treat this command but the study will point us even deeper.

Opening Question

What is your reaction to hearing the name of Jesus used poorly or the phrase, OMG? Why do you react this way?

Exodus 20:7

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

In the beginning (5 mins)

How is the theme of God’s name developed prior to the Ten Commandments?

Genesis 2:19-20; 3:20 (Adam was instructed by the LORD to name every animal. What he named them, that is what they were called. Man had authority to assign names to things. This seems trivial but demonstrates the purpose of names – they are not just words but are intrinsically linked to the person or animal that it was assigned to, and they have a meaningful role. The one who names something gives it meaning.)

Genesis 4:26 This use of the LORD’s name was not in vein but in prayer. In fact, the first prayers referred to in the bible. Mankind was divided between those who call on the name of the LORD for help and those who do not. They are, in the context, waiting for the seed of Eve to come and save them from the curse of sin (Gen 3:15).

What people are named and what that means is a key point in most of the accounts in Genesis (eg, Gen 27:36)

Exodus 3:11-15; 6:2-3; 15:2-3; The name is not simply a label but a revelation of His authority and power. It’s not just a word but a relationship. Man has not named God but God has declared his name to us.

“A study of the word *‘NAME’ in the OT reveals how much it means in Hebrew. The name is no mere label, but is significant of the real personality of him to whom it belongs. It may derive from the circumstances of his birth (Gn. 5:29), or reflect his character (Gn. 27:36), and when a person puts his ‘name’ upon a thing or another person the latter comes under his influence and protection.”

(New Bible Dictionary, “Names of God”, IVP)

Some more background: Technically speaking, there is only one name for God given in the Old Testament which is Yehwah – also referred to as Jehovah and translated as LORD in the bible. The word, god, in the bible can be used to refer to the LORD or to mythical god’s – context gives meaning. And the word, lord or Lord, refers to a person of power.

The command to Israel (5 mins)

Compare the NIV translation of Exodus 20:7 with another translation like the ESV. What is God teaching Israel?

take/misuse: make wrongful use of.

vain: describes unreality.

“The command prohibits use of the name for any idle, frivolous, or insincere purpose” (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 196). This would include perjury, pagan incantations, or idle talk. The name is to be treated with reverence and respect because it is the name of the holy God.

(Notes from the NET translation)

The command goes further than this, however, as we see the way Israel misused God’s name and how clearly Jesus represents it.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Deuteronomy 18:19 gives a positive use of the name of the LORD. Ezekiel 36, however, is very condemning. Read Ezekiel 36:16-32 and talk about what it means to misuse the name of God. 

  • Deuteronomy 18:19 – if a prophet speaks in the name of Yahweh, he is representing God and must be listened to. A prophet takes the LORD’s name carefully.
  • Ezekiel 36:16-32 – Israel was giving Yahweh and bad name. They misrepresented him. But God will re-establish his great name by pouring out his grace once again on Israel. This is a pointer to the gospel.

The Gospel (10 mins)

What difference has Jesus made to our understanding of this command?

  • John 5:43; 10:25 show us that Jesus came, like a prophet, in the name of God, whom he referred to as Father!
  • Matthew 6:9-13 The Lord’s prayer includes our plea for God’s name to be hallowed. As a prayer, it is a request for this to be fulfilled here on earth. Christ’s disciples will carry his name (see John 15:21)
  • John 14:13-14; 16:22-28 Jesus instructs his disciples to pray in his name!
  • Conclusion: Jesus comes in the name of his Father and teaches that when he leaves, his followers will pray in his name and be treated good or bad because of his name.

Christian Living (15 mins)

The name of the LORD was entrusted to Israel and yet they misused it in their disobedience. Yet God continued to bless Israel and the world through sending Jesus, his son and our Lord. The command to misuse the LORD’s name goes beyond swearing and involves representing God and his goodness to the world. We return to a familiar passage which we may think of when praying the first request in the Lord’s prayer…

  • Philippians 2:9-11 (also Ephesians 1:19b-23
  • 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (see here how we represent the name of Christ on earth as we call people to repent and believe.

So far, the commandments have built upon each other to teach us about gospel and mission: 1) we know that there is only one God and we must not compromise that truth for ourselves or anyone else in the world (Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour); 2) We must worship God only and do so in Spirit and in truth (Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through him; 3) He entrusts his name and reputation to us as we represent God in the world (exalting Jesus’ name above all others). 

How do you represent the name of Jesus? If you say you are a Christian, does the world see it?