The Bible in Context-Mark 7

Posted: March 29, 2010 in christianity, church, social justice, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes our travels tell more about our heart than our words. In this chapter Jesus addresses ritual washing (7:1-23) and he actually pronounces all foods as ritually clean. These were two major barriers to the inclusion of the Gentiles into the people of God. So Jesus addresses this issue verbally but if you continue to read the chapter you will notice something. Every story in this chapter has Jesus interacting with and ministering to Gentiles. The next story is about the Syrian Phoenician woman. Jesus is in the area of Tyre and Sidon and this woman was probably ethnically greek. The greeks and jews had a deep hostility towards each other due to greek conquest and hellenism. This resulted in clashes and fighting throughout Palestine prior to its occupation by the Roman Empire. In spite of this bitter interethnic rivalry Jesus casts a demon out of this woman’s daughter (7:24-30). His actions are in line with his words. The next story has Jesus healing a deaf and mute man in the region of the Decapolis or the ten cities (7:31-37). These cities were notoriously populated by Gentiles. Now the text doesn’t say that this man was a Gentile but Jesus was in Gentile territory and possibly had multiple interactions with Gentiles.

This is Jesus not only pronouncing the “the other” as clean but living life like the “other” is clean. His travels tell more about his stance and his agenda towards “the other” than his words. Many of us will say we could not include or love those that are not like us because we were not around them but is that really a good reason? Encountering and loving “the other” is a matter of choice and most of what we do in this consumer driven society is a matter of choice. When we see Jesus going through Tyre and Sidon and the Decapolis he is choosing to be with those who are not like him and in the process ministry happens. Where have your travels taken you? To the safe and secure place with your kind of people or to the risky place where “the other” dwells. Something to chew on.

  1. steven says:

    It is amazing how thoroughly enmeshed in the NT is the issue of diversity.

    The only way to miss it is to be blind to it! Which, unfortunately, much of the church is. It took me quite a long time to begin to see the theme of God reaching out to, and including, the outsider and the other. I grew up in white, suburban, America and had my reading of Scripture shaped by that monoculture.

    Now it jumps off the page at me! Jesus (as you point out) is quite clearly counter-cultural in his dealings with minorities and outsiders, it is a major theme in the book of Acts, and seems to be prevalent in every one of Paul’s letters. His very calling (to the Gentiles) is a testimony to God’s purpose in gathering all peoples…

  2. mayotron says:

    It is one of the major themes in the Bible because at the heart of it our culture is more a part of who we are than our color. You can be a white person but grow up in black culture and vice versa.

    I love the fact that Paul had to negotiate 3 cultures: Jewish, Greek, and Roman. Now that was a calling ๐Ÿ™‚

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