The Journeys (Mark 7:24—9:49, 10:1—52)
This section covers Jesus’ journeys to Tyre and Sidon, the Decapolis, and the return to Galilee. The area being visited is filled with Greeks and Gentiles and those who are cured in these chapters show that Jesus not only cured Jews and non-Jews alike, He also went after both. A Jewish rabbi who cares for both Gentile and Jew would definitely grab the attention of a first-century crowd. A Roman audience would feel comfortable, then, seeing a universal dimension to the Messiah.
The Syrophoenician Woman
A Greek woman, born in Syrian Phoenicia, came to Jesus in chapter 7, pleading for her daughter who was possessed by a demon. At first glance, it appears that Jesus rebuked the woman: “it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs” (Mark 7:27). An alleged insult was then turned around (in verse 28) into an act of preserving faith on her part as she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” Jesus rewarded her courage by healing her daughter. Some in His company, perhaps even some of His own disciples, would have looked down at this woman since she was a Gentile and not a believing Jew.
After curing the possessed daughter, Jesus left Tyre for Sidon. He healed a deaf mute at the close of chapter 7, and then miraculously fed 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish in the beginning of chapter 8–much like He did with the 5,000 previously in chapter 6. Verse 6 says Jesus had taken the bread and “given thanks”–which is eucharisteo in Greek, the root word for “Eucharist” that many Christians use to this day to call their Sunday worship where bread and wine are blessed and consecrated.
Jesus and the woman both used a play on words, which was typical for Greeks back then. Rather than the regular Greek word for “dogs” (kynas), as in the case of wild hounds and junkyard dogs, Jesus used the affectionate term “puppies” (kynariois).
In chapter 10, Mark recounts some of Jesus’ hard sayings. In the first section, He denounced divorce and remarriage by saying, “anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11—12). This is then followed by the famous reply to the rich young man, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). In both cases, Mark shows that Jesus is willing to take the tough road Himself when He predicts His own death and says that the Son of Man will be betrayed, condemned, and killed (after being mocked, flogged, and spit at), and will rise three days later (10:33—34).