• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

the Approach

In the local community of believers that we are part of here in Europe, we shared the Lord’s Supper together this past weekend.  It is both a solemn and joyful moment.  These two elements of the Lord’ Supper were only further reinforced in my heart and mind when I read these words from Thomas Cranmer, quoted by Tim Keller: “We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies.  We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table, but you are the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy.”  That unfathomable mercy and grace, as Keller reminds us, is clearly displayed in Jesus’ approach to two very different individuals, recorded in this section of the Gospel of Mark.

Jesus takes a seemingly hard approach towards the Syrophoenician woman who comes to plead for her daughter.  However, in her boldness, she wrestles “with Jesus in the most respectful way and she will not take no for an answer.”  Rather than pleading for and asserting her “rights”, she begs the Lord to give her what “she doesn’t deserve on the basis of His goodness.”  Recognizing her own unworthiness, she calls out for the infinite mercy of God to be shown to her.  What an example of the Gospel!

Jesus then takes an opposite approach towards the deaf and mute man.  Whereas Jesus appeared hard with the Syrophoenician woman, He takes a much softer approach in regards to this man.  Through a series of steps that lead to this man’s healing, Jesus enters his world, and demonstrates His compassion and connection with the struggles, the alienation and the isolation this man feels.

What is amazing is that Jesus Himself, as He goes to the cross, will experience both the rejection felt by the Syrophoenician woman and the silence of the deaf and mute man.  He will take upon Himself the weight of the ravages of sin in this world and in our lives, so as to deliver us, free us from the power that sin seeks to exercise over our lives.

How that deliverance works out in our each of our lives (sometimes called, sanctification) is part of the unique approach that Jesus takes towards each one of us.

 

How has Jesus’ unique approach to you called out a greater trust and faith in Him?    The very weakness of the deaf and mute man (his inability to speak) became the means by which he would serve Jesus and proclaim His name.  How has God used your weakness(es) to demonstrate His grace and mercy?  What does Jesus’ approach to these two people in Mark 7, tell us about how we should approach others with the Gospel?

Next week: chapter 9 – “the Turn”

 

2 Responses

  1. THE APPROACH

    How do I view and approach God? How do I view myself? How do I view and approach others? How do I view and approach the issues of life? I have been meditating on these questions recently in the light of Acts 9: 31, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up: and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.”

    One thought has grabbed my attention. As a believer in this life I should live in the tension between “the fear of the Lord” and the “comfort of the Holy Spirit.” in my approach to God, myself, others and the issues of life. What do I mean by this? Let me illustrate what I mean by also looking at this tension in what our approach should be to the Lord’s table. The Apostle Paul “fenced” the Lord’s table in I Cor. 11: 27 – 32 warning of the extreme danger in partaking of the table in “an unworthy” manner. Therefore we should approach the table “in the fear of the Lord.” At the same time we should approach the table of the Lord with “the comfort of the Holy Spirit” who bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God (Romans 8: 16 and context) and gives assurance that Christ once for all died for our sins and that his righteousness has been credited to our account (II Cor. 5: 21). I by God’s grace, therefore, can approach the Lord’s table with assurance and joy mingled with the awe of God’s holiness and majesty.

    Both the “fear of the Lord” and “the comfort of the Holy Spirit” should permeate my approach to all my relationships.

    • The balance you describe is often hard to maintain. Oftentimes, I find people falling to the side of ‘fear’ (poorly defined as a sense of God’s displeasure with us for failing to do what we know we should do) and seeking to earn again God’s love and pleasure. However, as you rightly point out we can fall to the other side and not realize that the joy that flows from the Cross should drive us to live lives which please Him because of the awesome nature of His love and grace.

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