Mark features several Gentiles in his Gospel account, emphasizing that Jesus came for all people. In chapter 7, we find two encounters that illustrate this point. We are told about a mother who sought out Jesus and fell at His feet. She asked that Jesus cast out a demon that controlled her daughter. Jesus explained that He came to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles, inferring that the Gentile’s time had not yet come. Her reply indicated faith in God and His goodness. Jesus recognized the faith in her response and declared that the demon had left the daughter.
Mark then tells us of a deaf man who was brought to Jesus. Since the deaf man was from the Decapolis region, most scholars believe him to be a Gentile as well. Jesus put His fingers in the man’s ears and touched the man’s tongue. Jesus then healed the man with the command, “Be opened.” The man could immediately hear and began to speak clearly.
Some obvious differences exist in these two stories.
- The daughter controlled by the demon was not present while the deaf man was.
- One was controlled by a demon while the other faced physical challenges not apparently caused by a demon.
- The daughter was healed will no indication of a declaration being made while the deaf man was healed through a direct command.
- The mother’s presence was questioned by Jesus but he led the deaf man aside to a private room.
These differences remind us that there is no norm for how Jesus works. He tailors His work to our needs.
Having said that, some common threads can also be recognized in these two events.
- Both the mother and the deaf man gained access to Jesus. Their identity did not keep them from being addressed by Jesus.
- Social barriers were crossed in both situations. Jesus addressed a woman and a Gentile woman at that. He touched a man many would have avoided.
- The mother and the deaf man had problems that no one else could solve. These were both desperate people who had most likely tried everything in an effort to find relief and healing.
- Both were granted their request. The demon left the daughter and the man could now hear and speak clearly.
- Both demonstrated faith in Jesus. This may be the greatest similarity within these stories. The mother asked for a crumb while the man was willingly taken to Jesus; both were expressions of humble and simple faith.
Faith in Jesus makes all people equal and can be expressed by all people regardless of their background, gender, heritage, and need. Faith does not require wealth, a spotless reputation, or an impressive family tree. Faith requires humility, admitting all else as inadequate, and a willingness to act. Jesus came to offer salvation to all through faith in Him. The offer is available to all people, but granted only to those willing to place their faith in Him.