URC Daily Devotion 13 February 2024

St Mark 7: 24 – 29

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre.  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice,  but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet.  Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.  He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’  But she answered him, ‘Sir,  even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’  Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’  So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.


Today’s reading can seem like a bit of a puzzle.  Why should Jesus go to the region of Tyre, and not want anyone to know he was there? Why should he seem to put a woman down, a woman who was pleading for her daughter?
There were times when Jesus went to be on his own, and times when he told the people he was with, such as his disciples, not to tell anyone what they had seen and heard. Perhaps it’s a reminder that, if Jesus needed time on his own, so do we.

However, in Tyre, the news about him soon got out, even into the non-Jewish community. Jesus’ initial reaction to the Syro-Phoenician woman seems unfair – with the implication that the Gospel is firstly for the Jews and that those who are not Jews might be ‘dogs’. The woman argues with him showing even dogs can have the crumbs from under the table.

Then, in this robust exchange between the two, Jesus turns around from what he has said, and says that the demon has left her daughter.  The woman goes home and finds the demon has gone.

Was Jesus being unfair to the woman, or was he testing her about what she thought? 

What’s interesting is that Jesus listens carefully to her and changes what he’s said, so that her daughter might be set free. It’s as a result of her coming to Jesus, even as a stranger, and despite the words she has said contradicting Jesus, that her daughter is healed. The woman’s goal was clear – her concern for her daughter.

It points to the way in which we can have arguments with Jesus, but he will see into our hearts and minds and respond positively to our underlying concerns and needs. And it took someone who was a woman and a stranger to make this point clear.


Loving Jesus, 
help us to follow your example in taking the time we need on our own.
We give thanks for the example of the Syro-Phoenician woman.
Give us the strength to speak to you openly 
of what we hold on our hearts and minds.
As you listen to us, help us to listen to others 
who might seem like strangers.
Accept our concerns and our care, 
for our family and for all around us in your world.


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