Lenten Devotional: Tuesday, March 25

Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.

by Hal Turner
March 25, 2014

Mark 7 27-30

The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked him to cure her daughter. He said, “Stand in line and take your turn. The children get fed first. If there’s any left over, the dogs get it.” She said, “Of course, Master. But don’t dogs under the table get scraps dropped by the children?”  Jesus was impressed. “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.

For the last two Tuesdays I have highlighted the emergence of a very selfish narrow view of the covenant in Jerusalem.  Jesus was not immune to this worldview; it seems started his ministry as a bit of a racist. Raised in the culture of Jerusalem, he was saturated in the culture of exclusion.  God was the property of the select and the few.  When approached by a foreigner seeking help Jesus lobbed a nasty derogatory word, and those words do hurt.  Instead of righteous outrage the woman gave Jesus a moment of grace.  “Yes, but even the dogs eat the crumbs under the table.”  The words triggered a heartwarming moment for Jesus.  He was forced by her humor to view her as a human being.  She was not a wretched dog, but a loving mother concerned for her child. She ate the same food, drank the same water, worried about the same worries and was a child of the same God.

Earlier in the day Jesus had been lecturing his disciples that what comes out of the mouth that makes a person unclean, not what goes in.   The woman had a prime opportunity to call out Jesus for hypocrisy, but by using sarcasm she allowed Jesus to call himself out.  Some people would say Jesus never made a mistake. But here it seems like he made a biggie.  But he clearly changes from the experience.  That all people are God’s children becomes an ever larger part of his message. We are moving towards Holy Week where Jesus declares the temple a house of prayer for all the nations.  A new covenant will be established for all people without regard to heritage or history.  We often think of the baptism or the temptation as the foundation for Jesus, but it was this moment that shifted forever the mission to all of God’s children.

Prayer:   God help me to see you in every person I meet, no matter where they come from or what they look like.

Hal Turner

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