Jesus Is a Global Savior
So today in Chapter 7 of Mark’s Gospel we are entering into a very new and important section of the book, and in order for us to understand how important this is, we need to back up for a minute and remember a foundational truth about God: it’s that God has a global mission for this world.
So first, there is God — he is the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; he created this world and everything in it with a purpose, and that purpose is so that the glory of his love would be demonstrated and seen and enjoyed by his creation — and that includes all of his creation, meaning every part of humanity. This is a theme that we see all throughout the Bible. We see it at the very beginning and at the very end.
At the very beginning we see in Genesis Chapter 1 that God’s commission to Adam is a commission for all humans. God created men and women to resemble and reflect his glory, and he told us to multiply and fill the earth as these little reflections of who he is. That is meant for all of us, every man, every woman, everywhere. That’s the beginning.
Then at the very end, in the Book of Revelation, we read about this vision of the future, when God’s salvation of this world is complete, and Jesus is lifted high, and he is worshiped — and we see that Jesus is worshiped by who?
Jesus is worshiped by all humanity. Jesus is worshiped by his people that he has rescued from “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). That’s the end.
So Genesis is the beginning and Revelation is the end, and everything in-between is the story of how God saves us. It’s the story of God’s glory and love made known in Jesus, and it has always been about all peoples. All peoples is an essential part of the gospel.
We see this even in God’s choosing of Israel.
So remember in Genesis Chapter 3, Adam sinned and the entire human race experienced what’s called the Fall. Everything is now broken and cursed. The whole world is now subject to sin.
But that’s also when God’s plan of redemption starts to unfold, and he chooses Abraham, whose grandson Jacob becomes the people of Israel.
And it’s interesting because this looks like God’s plan is becoming more narrow — because it goes from Adam and all humanity to one person Abraham and then to one people Israel. But actually what we see in the one man Abraham and then Israel is that God’s mission is still global. God promises Abraham that through his offspring all the peoples of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:1–3).
So the focusing in on Abraham and Israel was never meant to end there, but they were meant to be the channel, and the catalyst, through which all peoples and all nations would be blessed. God has a global mission for the world.
And we really see this in the prophetic books of the Old Testament. So from like the 8th century to 5th century BC God sent prophets to Israel to preach judgment and hope, and the hope they preached was that one day all peoples would be one people of God rescued by his Messiah. This is the hope we see in places like Isaiah 45, verse 22 when God says,
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
We see this again in Isaiah 60, verse 9, when God says that “the coastlands shall hope for me” (coastlands refers to the peoples way out there).
And then again at the end of Isaiah, Isaiah 66, verse 23, God says: “all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord” (which means that every type of person, from every type of place, with every type of background will one day worship God together). God has a global mission for this world.
Jesus Is a Global Savior
That is the foundational truth we need to know before we get here in Mark Chapter 7, because here in Mark Chapter 7 we see that Jesus, in line with the mission of God, is the Savior of all peoples. So God has a global mission; Jesus is a global Savior.
And I think we see this three different ways in our passage today, and I can’t wait to show you. Let’s pray and we’ll get started.
Father, this morning we confess and we declare that you are God and there is no other. You are the one God from whom are all things, and Jesus is the one Lord through whom are all things, and you have given us one Spirit, one gospel, and one faith for one people from all the peoples of the earth. And we recognize that this is more glorious than we understand. Help us this morning, we ask, in Jesus’s name, amen.
So there are three truths in this passage about the global glory of Jesus, and we see the first one here in verse 24.
1. Jesus goes where only he makes it make sense (7:21–30).
Two weeks ago now, in the first half of Chapter 7, Pastor Joe showed us this conversation that Jesus has with the Pharisees and the people around them. This is where Jesus was teaching that it’s not what goes into a person that defiles them, but it’s what comes out from the heart. And then Mark includes, in verse 19, this little explanation statement: “Thus he [Jesus] declared all foods clean.”
And so Joe talked about how there are food laws in the Old Testament that were peculiar for Israel; they were meant to separate Israel from the other nations. Israel could not eat unclean foods. But here now, Jesus has come, and he has declared all foods clean. And this is very important. So just remember that. Keep that in mind.
Now look right after this conversation to verse 24. Jesus takes off and travels into the region of Tyre and Sidon. And those places probably don’t mean much to us now, but in Jesus’s day, this was unmistakably Gentile territory. We’re talking north of Israel; modern-day Lebanon; by the coast, in the area that used to be called Phoenicia.
And in the Bible, this is the home of Queen Jezebel. That name might sound familiar to you. Jezebel, in the Bible, is known as one of Israel’s most notorious and wicked villains. And she’s from this area that Jesus has just entered — so this place has a reputation. In Jesus’s day, this region, Tyre and Sidon, would have represented the most extreme expressions of paganism in the First Century world.
And Jesus has gone there, and in verse 25 we see that he meets a woman, and we don’t know her name, but we know she’s a local because Marks tells us. Mark wants us to know that this woman is a Gentile. She is Syrophoenician by birth, which means that Jesus has come to her territory. Jesus is walking on her street. Jesus has entered a house on her block. And so she comes to see him right away.
That’s because her daughter is oppressed by demons, and she needs help, and so when she heard that Jesus was coming, she goes to him, she falls at his feet, and she begs him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And the conversation gets a little strange. Jesus, at first, deflects her request with a parable.
He says that the children should be fed first, and that it’s not right to take bread from the children and give it to the dogs. This is a parable about Jesus’s mission. It’s about Jews and Gentiles. Jesus is saying that he first is bringing the gospel to the Jewish people before he brings it to all the nations (this goes back to God’s mission being channeled through Israel). But then look what the woman says, verse 28,
She answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
We can hardly overstate what is happening here, because for the first time in the Gospel of Mark, someone understands a parable from Jesus. And it wasn’t the Jewish leaders of the day, it wasn’t the men skilled in understanding the Hebrew Scriptures, and it wasn’t even the disciples who had been living with Jesus; instead, it was this Syrophonecian woman with a demon-possessed daughter who lived out way by the coast in the land of pagans. This woman, in every category, would have been the exact opposite of the Pharisees! — and the most important thing that is different about her is that she has faith. That is her connection to Jesus.
She believes that Jesus is who she needs. And so Jesus says to her, “Your little girl is healed.”
So press pause for a second.
The Message of Presence
The simple fact that Jesus is here, having this conversation, is saying something.
The whole thing about Jesus declaring all foods clean in verse 19 is really not about foods. It’s about people. Jesus declared all foods clean in verse 19, and then right after it, when he came to this region of Tyre and Sidon, he declared all regions clean; and then here, in talking to this Syrophonecian woman, he declared all peoples clean.
See, other people did not go places like this. It was too pagan, too dirty. Jewish people did not go to Tyre and Sidon, but Jesus goes here because Jesus is a global Savior. Jesus is the Savior of all peoples, and so he goes where only he makes it make sense.
Jesus goes to the darkest of places, and talks to the most pagan of peoples, because he knows that his mission is for her.
And here’s the thing: Ours is too.
What We Should Ask
When we see what Jesus does here, it means we have to ask the question of ourselves: Is there any place we go, or anything we do, where only Jesus can make it make sense?
See, the question is: What is it about our lives that can only make sense because of Jesus?
That is something we should all think about, and I want to be clear here that it’s going to look different for us. We’re all in different seasons of life, with different callings and commitments, and for some of us this might mean we do something new. Maybe God is calling you into a new thing; maybe God is calling you to take the gospel to people around the world who have never heard the name of Jesus.
Or, maybe for some of us, it’s not that we do anything more, but maybe it’s that we do some things differently. Maybe it means that we reconsider some of our routines and we sincerely ask Jesus to take control.
As a Christian there should be things in your life that only make sense because of Jesus, and that might mean you do new things, it might mean that you stop doing old things; or it might mean that you just do some things differently. But either way, we’re not going to know unless we do a prayerful assessment of our lives. I’m talking: put everything on the table before God and ask him to show you. Father, lead me. Use me. How should the global glory of Jesus impact the way I live? What is it about my time, or my character, or my relationships, that only makes sense because of you?
If we ask him, he will lead us.
2. Jesus does all things well. (7:31–37)
So after this conversation with the Syrophonecian woman, Jesus takes off for the region of Decapolis. Decapolis was east of Galilee, and again, this is clear Gentile territory. And Jesus goes there and meets a man who was deaf and mute. Now the word for “mute” in verse 32 is translated by the English Standard Version as “speech impediment.” The New International Version translates it “could hardly talk.” Both of these are getting more at its meaning, which is interesting because the word used here is only used one other place in the whole Bible.
And so Jesus meets this man, and the man’s friends beg Jesus to heal him, and this time there’s not really much of a conversation. Verse 32 says that Jesus takes the man aside and he heals him, except that this is not your typical healing.
Jesus puts his fingers in the man’s ears; then he spits and touches the man’s tongue; and then Mark gives us the Aramaic word that Jesus used, which means, “Be opened.”
And we don’t know exactly why Jesus does it this way. There are a few different ideas out that try to figure this out, but the main thing I don’t want us to miss is that Jesus gets close to this guy.
Remember, this is historically unclean territory for Jewish people, but Jesus has come here — and he doesn’t just come here, but he gets in this guy’s personal space. I mean, look, I have some close friends, and I’m thankful for these guys, but I don’t want anybody putting their fingers in my ears. That’s a little too close.
But Jesus is here putting his hands on this man, and it’s more than that because what Jesus is actually doing is he’s putting his hands on this man’s brokenness.
See, Jesus could have just healed the man from a distance — he’s done it that way before, like he just did with the woman’s daughter — but here Jesus makes contact. Jesus encounters this brokenness, and he puts his hands in it. He touches this man where he hurts. Jesus touches this man’s wounds. He touches the things about this man that have made his life hard.
Jesus touches this unclean, disabled Gentile man, and he heals him. And if we think that’s amazing, notice what the people who saw it said. Verse 37:
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Back to Isaiah
I love this verse. Jesus does all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak, and these people know it because they just saw it. And there’s an important connection here. Mark is showing us something about who Jesus is, and it goes back to the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.
In the Book of Isaiah, leading up to Isaiah Chapter 35, the prophet Isaiah has been declaring judgment on the nations, but then in Chapter 35, we read about God’s salvation for the nations. Isaiah says:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
2 it shall blossom abundantly
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
[Isaiah is talking about Gentile nations here, and he says…]
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
And it’s really interesting because the word here for “mute” is only used one other place in the entire Bible — in Mark Chapter 7, verse 32.
See, God’s global mission for this world is accomplished through his Messiah. It’s the Messiah who is going to bring God’s salvation to all the nations. This Messiah, this Savior, is the Savior of all peoples, and Mark wants us to know that Jesus is this Savior. Jesus is making the hope of Isaiah 35 a reality. Jesus is coming and touching the brokenness of this world and he is making it whole. Jesus is rolling up his sleeves and he is facing the curse of this world, and he is putting all things right. Jesus is making all things good all over again.
Jesus is doing that in Mark Chapter 7, and Jesus is still doing that today.
His Hands in Our Brokeness
A couple Tuesdays ago, Melissa and I had the amazing honor of officially adopting our youngest daughter. We have been in the process as foster parents for over 15 months, and now finally, our little girl is our little girl. And God has been so gracious to us; it has been a great couple weeks, but one thing that Melissa and I have talked about, and something that was not lost on us in the courtroom last Tuesday, is that behind this beautiful thing we get to be part of, there is a mess of brokenness. There are so many things connected to adoption for which we should be sad. And actually, that is where the beauty comes from. The beauty comes from the brokenness being replaced with wholeness, and the wrong being replaced with right.
And look, we know when we step back and look at this thing, whatever is good here is because Jesus has his hands in it. None of as parents want to be God for our children; we need God to be God for our children; and when we encounter brokenness, we need Jesus to put his hands in it.
And the thing that baffles me the most is that a lot of times the way Jesus puts his hands in it is through your hands.
See, here we are, and we still need Jesus to put his hands in our brokenness, and he is already through us putting his hands in the brokenness of others. Because we are not “God” to anyone. We are all just beggars trying to tell other beggars where to find food. Jesus is the one who does all things well, and just like the Syrophonecian woman, and just like this deaf man, we just need him. We need Jesus to be involved. We need his hands working on us and through us.
That’s what we need; and that’s what he does. Which brings us to the last point.
3. Jesus is enough. (8:1–21)
We see this at the beginning of Chapter 8. Notice in the first two verses that Jesus finds himself in the same situation he was in back in Chapter 6:
A great crowd of people are gathered around him; they have nothing to eat; and Jesus has compassion on them. And so Jesus takes a little lunchable of bread and fish and he feeds the entire multitude.
This miracle is almost identical to the miracle in Chapter 6 except that here in Chapter 8 there are few different details like: it’s seven baskets left over here instead of twelve; it’s four thousand instead of five thousand; and most importantly, this miracle took place in Gentile territory, not Jewish.
And I think that’s the point. That’s the main difference we’re supposed to see here, but there’s also a repeated word that links the two miracles together:
Enough for Both Jews and Gentiles
It’s the Greek word “fed” which also means “to be satisfied.” It can be translated either way. This word is used in Chapter 8, verse 8 when Mark says, “And they ate and were satisfied.”
And the word is also used back in Chapter 6, verse 42. After Jesus fed the five thousand, Mark tells us, “And they all ate and were satisfied.”
And the only other place Mark uses this word is in Chapter 7 when Jesus told the Syrophonecian woman to let the children be fed first before giving their bread to the dogs. That’s the same word used in Chapters 6 and 8 — “to be fed” or “to be satisfied” — and it’s what connects the stories together.
See, God has a global mission for this world!
He’s going to feed Israel first; and then through Israel he is going to feed the nations. That’s what is happening in Chapter 8. Jesus has fed the Jewish thousands in Chapter 6, and now he is feeding the Gentile thousands in Chapter 8, and that’s because Jesus is the Savior of all, and he is enough for all. Jesus has enough bread for everybody. That is the point that Mark is getting across, and the earliest interpreters of this Gospel understood it that way.
Here in Mark Chapters 7 and 8, Mark is showing us that Jesus, the global Savior, is enough for both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus, the Savior of all peoples is enough for all peoples, so much so that’s he still got baskets left over.
And this is what that means for you: It means that it doesn’t matter who you are; it doesn’t matter where you’re from; Jesus is enough for you.
Jesus is the Savior of all peoples, and all peoples includes you, therefore Jesus is enough for you. Jesus has enough for you.
The Ultimate Distance
And look, I know that’s not easy to believe. The Pharisees didn’t believe it. Even the disciples didn’t believe it, after they saw Jesus perform the same miracle twice!
That’s the conversation in the boat right after this. Jesus warns the disciples about unbelief, and they still don’t understand — and Jesus is about to change that (we’ll see next week) — but for now, the disciples still don’t get it. The glory of Jesus is right in front of their noses and they’re still missing it.
Because it’s not easy for us to believe that Jesus is enough, but he is. And he proves it.
Disciples, how many thousands does he have to feed? How many thousands does he have to feed in order for you to understand that he’s got enough for you? How many signs, Pharisees, does he have to do before you listen to him? How far away, all peoples, does he have to go in order for us to know he cares?
Because he has already gone there, see.
We’re going to read about it in a few more chapters, but at the cross where Jesus died, he went the ultimate distance for us. See, Jesus didn’t just put his hands in our brokenness, but he took our brokenness upon himself. At the cross Jesus became our brokenness. He took our sins, our guilt, our shame, and he died in our place. He took the judgment we deserved. He was crucified, he was dead; he was buried — in ultimate darkness — and then on the third day he was raised in victory. His resurrection hope has now invaded this world. The broken is being made whole; the wrong is being made right; the old is being made new — for all peoples everywhere. Including you.
And that’s what we remember at this Table.
The bread and cup at this Table symbolizes the broken body and shed blood of Jesus, so that when we eat and drink here we are declaring that the cross of Jesus is our only hope.
And we know that we come to this Table only because Jesus has come to us, all the way to us, and he has come to make us whole. Jesus, the Savior of all peoples, has touched even me. And if you believe that this morning, we invite you to eat and drink with us.