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The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 7

Analysis and Commentary


Woman Shows Faith in Jesus and Begs

A Woman Shows Faith in Jesus and Begs Him to Heal her Daughter

Jesus’ conflicts with Jewish religious tradition continue in the seventh chapter of Mark’s gospel. Of particular importance is his revaluation of what does and does not defile a person: what a person eats doesn’t matter so much as what a person thinks or feels.

Jesus Breaks Bread, Breaks Tradition (Mark 7:1-13)
We have seen before that Jesus is willing to overturn traditions if current needs seem more important. In chapter 2, he and his disciples refused to fast when others might and they gathered food on the Sabbath. Here that same tendency is displayed again: his disciples fail to wash their hands before eating and Jesus doesn’t do anything about it.

Jesus on Ritual Purity (Mark 7:14-23)
Previously, we read about Jesus allowing his disciples to ignore a tradition of ritually washing their hands before eating despite the complaints of the Pharisees. At the time, Jesus responded to the complaints by arguing first that the Pharisees were hypocrites for worshipping Jesus in words but not in their hearts and second that at least some of the Pharisees made a habit of placing human traditions over God’s laws.

The Syro-Phoenician Woman’s Faith in Jesus (Mark 7:24-30)
Jesus’ fame is spreading beyond the Jewish population and on to outsiders — even beyond the borders of Galilee. Tyre and Sidon were located to the north of Galilee (in what was then the Province of Syria) and were two of the most important cities of the ancient Phoenecian empire. This was not a Jewish area, so why did Jesus travel here?

Jesus Heals the Deaf and Blind (Mark 7:31-37)
We find that Jesus has left one Gentile area for another, traveling from Tyre and Sidon in the Province of Syria down south through the region dominated by the ten hellenized cities known as the Decapolis. Located primarily along the eastern edge of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan river, these cities appear to have been populated by a large and educated audience — was Jesus trying to reach them?

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