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Dec 05, 2021

Who Belongs?

Who Belongs?

Passage: Mark 7:24-30

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Follow: Learning from Mark about Jesus’ Most Misunderstood Command

Keywords: prayer, deliverance, gentiles, bread

THEMES: On a first read you might think Jesus is a bigotted misogynist the way he at first responds to a non-Jewish woman humbly seeking his assistance. Why would he speak of her, and to her, like that? Is this the real Jesus, while the other apparently more tender, compassionate moments were for show? Or are we imposing assumptions–tone, facial expression, intent–upon the bare and spare words? Why has Mark chosen to include in his account this brief, perplexing encounter?

Readings & Scripture

PREPARATION: Psalm 67:1-3
LEADER: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.

PEOPLE: Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.

LEADER: Let the peoples praise you, O God;

ALL: let all the peoples praise you!

ADVENT READING: Luke 2:22-35
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

CENTRAL TEXT: Mark 7:24-30
24 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.


  • Psalm 87
  • John 4:1-42
  • John 10:16
  • Romans 1:16
  • Ephesians 2:11-22
  • 1 John 4:14


  1. Anyone in your childhood that you tended to avoid, or were warned of, or perhaps even loathed? (Maybe you were the one left “outside”?) Who and why? Any of those suspicions persist?
  2. Why might Mark mention those multiple identifiers of the person who appeals to Jesus? How would they be significant to those with Jesus that day, or to those who first heard/read this account from Mark?
  3. The exchange happens so quickly. Sit with it for a bit and then try to paraphrase what they say to each other. (It’s a good exercise for studying any passage!) Now try this: try first to paraphrase his words that put Jesus in the worst possible light, and then alternatively do so in a way that puts him in the best possible light.
  4. Read the parallel account of this moment in Matthew 15:21-28. What’s the same? What all changes? (e.g. who is mentioned in Matthew’s version that goes unmentioned in Mark’s?) How does that rendering offer subtle differences in your reading of Mark 7?
  5. What would have been unexpected, even shocking, about this moment, both to the disciples and also to Mark’s first readers?
  6. What did Jesus look past, and only look for, in order for her to receive his blessing? What are ways we categorize people which lead us to conclude they are beyond God’s interest or care? 
  7. How is this woman–a person then thought unlikely to be favored–a model of faith? Of prayer?
  8. As it pertains to the two preceding questions, how does the gospel both humble and encourage us to follow Jesus’s way here?


  • This encourages us to pray and not to faint, to continue instant in prayer, not doubting but to prevail at last; the vision at the end shall speak, and not lie. - Matthew Henry
  • Faith believes Jesus is good even when reason is not so sure - F.D. Bruner
  • I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God. It changes me. - C.S. Lewis