Speaking Of Life 3041 | Jesus Interrupted
Have you ever been interrupted? We all have! Kids especially have a gift for knowing the worst time to burst in the door and throw off the whole trajectory. Every one of us has some story of the kid who yelled at church or loudly announced his bathroom needs during a quiet moment.
Mark 7 records one of the oddest interactions Jesus has—and it’s the story of an interruption. Jesus had just had a fiery confrontation with the Pharisees not long after John the Baptist was executed. He was also strategizing his mission and going through Israel and from there out to the world. At this point, he was laying low for a little while, as Mark says: “And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know” (Mark 7:24).
Even before he can enter a time of privacy, a worried mom interrupts Jesus. A Syro-Phoenecian woman begs him to heal her daughter—right at that moment when he’s trying to not draw attention to himself. He enters into a verbal sparring match with her that may leave us scratching our heads:
And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Mark 7:27-28 (ESV)
Huh?! On the surface it looks like Jesus is insulting this woman, even calling her “dog”—a common slur for Gentile people. It would be reasonable if he were upset by her interruption during this strategic moment.
But look closer. The word he uses is actually a term of affection like “puppy.” He’s hinting toward a change, a softening of the division between people. Look again and you can see, by her witty response that she’s engaging with Jesus, almost joking with him.
True, he is strategically laying low right now. True, he is called to Israel first to fulfill the narrative of the gospel. But he can’t help himself—this determined, headstrong woman captured his heart at that moment.
And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.”
Mark 7:29 (ESV)
This is Jesus, interrupted. We will see later in the chapter—as Jesus fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah—that Jesus moves very carefully within his bigger story. His life and actions tie together the story of Israel and redemption.
But the greater theme of this particular story of interruption is generosity—God’s overflowing love that doesn’t always go “according to plan.” Determined and worried parents, overly active children, and faith-challenged disciples become part of the epic story.
The interruptions drive the plot.
How are we being interrupted today? Are the kids ruining our concentration? Is a difficult person calling us outside “office hours”? These moments are often uncomfortable and never predictable, but they are grace moments and Jesus is there in them. Perhaps they are part of the plot of your life with him.
This is Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.