Living in the desert southwest is a joy! The geography and climate offer a variety of extremes that engage the mind and senses. As I write, Christmas is a week away, and almost on cue, the weather went from sunny and warm to winter-like—rain in the valley and snow in the mountains. I have a fire crackling in the fireplace and Christmas music playing softly in the background—heaven is here!
Thoughts of the birth of Jesus and His glorious entrance into our world flood my mind. His birth is the greatest miracle, but He demonstrated throughout His earthly life and eventual ascension, that miracles are to be expected in our world.
Part of the joy of every Christmas season is the hope and expectancy for God to move miraculously again. Without an ongoing awareness of the presence of Jesus, the power of His resurrection, and a belief in God working present-day miracles, Christmas season becomes religious routine at best. Worse case, Christmas becomes a secular holiday devoid of adoration of the King of Kings.
Last week, a dear friend and member of our congregation shared her Christmas miracle. Ady was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. As a congregation, we prayed faithfully for her. Two and a half years ago, the cancer metastasized and went to her liver and bones—we continued to pray. She went on hard chemo, lost her hair, and had other effects.
Last year her pet scan showed her liver was clear, which was a miracle, but she still had the bone cancer. She tried hormone blockers and a light chemo, but nothing seemed to work. We continued to pray for her. She went back on oral chemo 10 months ago and her tumor marker numbers started to go back down, but seemed to plateau. We continued to pray—Jesus is still a miracle worker!
Recently, her doctor suggested another pet scan, which she did last week. The doctor went over the results with her last Tuesday, and to his surprise, the scan showed something remarkable—no evidence of cancer! As he reviewed the scan, he kept saying to Ady, “This is amazing, this is amazing, there’s nothing there!” He was comparing the pet scan from a year ago with this recent scan—no trace of cancer! We are all rejoicing with Ady, and thanking God for her healing.
Do you, or someone you know, need a miracle today? I encourage you to read the rest of my blog today, and perhaps watch my sermon from last Sunday, “Jesus, I Need a Miracle!” You may also consider reading my book, “Receive Your Miracle Now! A Case for Healing Today.” The book is full of miracle stories and biblical basis for God’s healing power still active today.
Miracles for the Gentiles too!
Mark finishes his expose on the Pharisees and Scribes in Mark 7:1-23, giving the reader indicators of a New Covenant coming through Jesus: it’s the Kingdom of God—all are welcome—including the Gentiles!
He now segues in Mark 7:24-30; 31-37 describing miracle stories in Gentile (non-Jewish) regions around Israel. The healing of the Syrophoenicians’ daughter and the healing of the deaf-mute man are no coincidence, intentionally placed here by Mark.
The ceremonial laws created a barrier between Jews and Gentiles—Jesus is now removing them, creating one new man in Christ (Eph. 2:14). This barrier was most evident during meals, as strict kosher laws meant that a devout Jew could not share a meal with Gentiles (see Acts 10:28).
Healing of a Deaf-Mute
The healing of the deaf-mute in Mark 7:31-37 is one of the few episodes that only Mark records. Perhaps the most graphic physical healing in scripture.
Jesus enters a Gentile region called the Decapolis, close to where the demonized man of the Gadarenes was delivered (Mark 5). They begged Him to leave before, now the people beg Him to heal the sick!
The people now recognize Jesus as a miracle worker who has compassion on the afflicted. They bring to Him a man who is deaf-mute, begging Him to lay hands on him (see Mark 5:23, Jairus). A reference to Isaiah 35:5-6 where the prophet declares of the Messiah to come that “…ears of the deaf opened…tongue of the mute will speak…”
By referencing Isaiah 35, Mark is indicating that the Gentiles are also heirs of these promises made to Israel!
Jesus takes the deaf-mute man away from the crowd and ministers to him. He puts His fingers in His ears—sign language referring to what He will do for the man. Jesus spits on His finger, places it on man’s tongue—saliva in the ancient world was considered to have therapeutic qualities.
He looks up to heaven, as a sign of prayer for the man, and says in Aramaic, “Be Opened!” The man is healed and speaks plainly, people are “astonished beyond measure.”
In my book, “Receive Your Miracle Now,” I share the story on page 188 of a young woman, who was born deaf and mute, who received a miracle healing—she could now hear and speak for the first time! Her doctor, who knew her from childhood, stood by in amazement as this miracle unfolded.
A Canaanite Woman’s Daughter Freed
Jesus leaves the confines of the Galilee region to Tyre, about 40 miles north-west, a predominately Gentile city on the coast—present-day Lebanon (Mark 7:24-30).
Jesus makes a deliberate turn to Gentile territory. He is demonstrating that this Gospel of the Kingdom must go to the ends of the earth. He enters a house there, wanting to remain incognito and rest, but He simply can’t be hidden!
Matthew records the same story and recognizes the great faith of the woman.
From there, Jesus went to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from those territories came out and shouted, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” But he didn’t respond to her at all. His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.” Jesus replied, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed. Matt. 15:21-28 CEB
In this moment of rest for Jesus and the disciples, this desperate woman finds Him and cries out for a miracle. She came with many disadvantages.
First, she was a woman. In Israel in those days, women were expected to remain silent and to keep a distance from a rabbi or teacher.
Second, she was a Gentile, a Syrian of Phoenicia. She was not part of the people of Israel; she lacked the necessary credentials. According to Jewish traditions, she didn’t have a part or rightful inheritance in God’s covenant with Israel.
Lastly, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jesus was not preaching or ministering to the people that day. Jesus was withdrawing, He was resting. You could say she was “insensitive” to the moment, in fact, she was “odd and peculiar.”
But, She Cries Out for Help, “Jesus, I Need a Miracle!”
Notice she is the only person who comes to Him in this region? Much like the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5 and Luke 8, in the multitude of people, she had faith while the crowd had only interest! “She came and fell at His feet,” a gesture of worship (see Acts 10:25). Mark 7:26 records that “she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.”
Matthew records, “Show me mercy, Son of David. My daughter is suffering terribly from demon possession.” (Matt. 15:22 CEB) Son of David was a Messianic title, she recognized Jesus as the King of Kings! This Gentile woman was more aware of who Jesus is than the scholarly Pharisees and Scribes of her day.
Despite her disadvantages, she found the courage to cry out desperately to Jesus because of the torment her daughter was in. She understood the grace and mercy of God—available to all people!
King David declared, “This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6) Jesus is near, cry out to Him! He longs to deliver you from all your trouble! The Kingdom of God is at hand—His rule is ever present as you place your confidence fully in Him!
God uses the trials and traumas in life, that we would draw near to Him, seeking His face and presence. But, some grow bitter and sad when they go through trials. Don’t grow bitter, wait on God and you will see the deliverance and God will be glorified!
She broke the rules of the culture and Jewish religion! How desperate are you for a miracle?
She didn’t say, “I’m a Gentile woman and Jesus won’t have anything to do with me.” She came desperate, willing to appear foolish, because her daughter was suffering—she knew He was the answer. She understood that there was an age of grace coming, that the proclamation of God’s Kingdom included all people.
The Silence of God
Matthew adds, “But he didn’t respond to her at all. His disciples came and urged him, “Send her away; she keeps shouting out after us.” (Matt. 15:23 CEB)
This woman came to Him, and though she heard nothing at first, was determined to receive from God. Sometimes, only silence is heard. Even His apparent refusals are meant to awaken a greater faith in you, which prepares you to receive His miracle.
But If there is pride in our hearts, we may become offended at the silence and delays of God. God will use the delays to mold us more into His likeness and image. (Rom. 5:3-5) Perhaps you are experiencing the silence of God in this season. The silence of God will test your heart to see if you truly trust him and will stand in faith for the answer.
Several years ago, while pondering this story, the Lord spoke to me about the woman, “Bob, the moment she came to Me, I wanted to give her what she wanted; I knew she had faith. Like the centurion in Matthew 8, I wanted others to see her great faith.”
Perhaps you have been praying, crying out to God for an answer—don’t lose heart—keep asking, seeking and knocking! God hears the cry of the righteous! Tell Him, “Jesus, I believe in miracles, and I need a miracle!” (See Psalm 50:15)
Send Her Away!
Matthew records the negative response of the disciples, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” (Matt. 15:23 CEB) When we are overtaken by a spirit of religion, how easy it is to forget about human suffering—send her away!
Here we find the disciples saying, “Lord this woman is causing us an inconvenience. Tell her to leave.” The disciples were restricted by a religious mindset—she’s not a Jew… she is a woman… and we are supposed to be resting!
Religion apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit creates legalist faith that is empty of God’s love and grace. You are someone’s answer! He is looking to you to minister to those in need. As a follower of Jesus, you have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, to heal and deliver the oppressed.
Yet, the answer Jesus gives seems even colder.
Here she stands, a short distance from Jesus, waiting for a positive answer. Jesus replies, “I’ve been sent only to the lost sheep, the people of Israel.” Matt. 15:24 CEB
Mark 7:27 writes, “Let the children be filled first …” Mark’s implication is that the Gospel of the Kingdom is to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles. Mark wants a Gentile audience to know that the Gospel of the Kingdom was for everyone, but God would go to Israel first.
However, she could have given in to rejection and left. I believe the Lord knew this woman had a deep well within her!
Many people say, “Lord, I have faith,” but their faith and perseverance is shallow. Many grow weary and stop contending for the promise: Divine Healing, Deliverance, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, financial breakthrough, broken marriage, wayward children, etc. Do you know what Jesus was doing to this Gentile woman? He was testing and revealing her heart. He wanted her to be convinced of who He was and that her miracle was coming!
The Need for Faith and Perseverance
What would you have done in this situation? Matthew records, “But she knelt before him and said, “Lord, help me.” He replied, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to dogs.” Matt. 15:25-26 CEB
Most people would have gone home offended that day, perhaps thinking, “God doesn’t love me, He gives to others, but I don’t receive anything.” Could it be that God is testing your faith and perseverance right now as you wait for your miracle?
The Canaanite woman could have thrown herself a pity party that day and returned home offended! But look at how she responded to Jesus, she said, “Yes, Lord. But even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall off their masters’ table.” Matt. 15:27 CEB
Such wisdom and understanding of the Abrahamic covenant that included the Gentiles. This woman was saying, “Lord, even if it is just the crumbs, please give them to me. I will take even a crumb of a miracle if it will help relieve the suffering of my daughter!”
Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith. It will be just as you wish.” And right then her daughter was healed.” Matt. 15:28 CEB
GREAT FAITH, recorded for all to read! This woman knew Jesus had the power to heal—Son of David—she had faith! But, what we also see is her perseverance. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb. 11:6 NKJV
Faith is substantive in nature. Faith sees the promise fulfilled while positioned in hope. Faith is an expectant anticipation of the promise. God rejoices when we manifest a faith that holds Him to His Word! (Smith Wigglesworth)
Perhaps you feel unworthy to come to Jesus today. Listen, you are worthy! “Come to Me all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
When we push aside our pride and self-reliance and determine to pursue God alone, we are positioning ourselves to come “boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16)
To position yourself for a miracle, surrender control, and allow the Holy Spirit to remove any hurt, offense and bitterness from your heart—allow Him to change you from within.
He wants to change us and keep changing us until we grow into the measure of the stature of fullness of Christ. Eph. 4:13 CEB “God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ.”
Here are principles to receive from God: Have Faith, Persevere, and remain Humble! Tell Jesus today, Lord I need a miracle, and begin to thank Him for the miracle before you see the manifestation of it on earth!
Have a Merry Christmas!
For a more in-depth look at this message, watch “Jesus I Need a Miracle!” from Passion Church: