Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

by Crossings

Who is This Jesus?
Mark 7: 24-37
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 18)
Analysis by Robin Morgan

24From 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, 25but the woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27He 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.” 28But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go-the demon has left your daughter.” 30So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. 31Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

[To parse this pericope according to the Crossings method, we must add Mark 8:1-21 to the mix. It is the Pharisees and the disciples who have the problem that needs to be addressed. Thankfully, the lectionary cooperates this time because next Sunday picks up in verse 27 of chapter 8.]


Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Compassion Fatigue
This section of Mark contains story after story of Jesus having compassion on people. He cast the demon out of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, someone who wasn’t even of the household of Israel. He opened the ears and mouth of the deaf and mute man and fed the crowd which had been with him for three days. Over and over again Jesus manifests who he is (as Mark tells us in 1:11, “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased'”) and yet the Pharisees and the disciples don’t get it. Their Torah shaped lives balk at Jesus’ freewheeling displays of compassion. We need a sign, say the Pharisees to Jesus, to know whether you are truly lawful. Did we do something wrong? say the disciples, more concerned with their actions than with who Jesus really is.

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – Staying in the Box
The Pharisees’ hard-heartedness and the disciples’ fear overshadow the ultimate significance of Jesus in their midst. Instead of rejoicing as they see God’s reign break into the life of the world through the Beloved, they fuss and fume (we need a sign, we forgot the bread) trying to fit their experiences of Jesus into their old mindsets about how God operates in the world.

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Boxed Out
But God will not allow this new creation life to be boxed in by human hypocrisy and ignorance. The compassion, the healing, the feeding continue. All those who step aside to judge God’s ways will be left behind.


Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – Compassion Reigns
Yet even this hypocrisy and ignorance that can have such deadly consequences is swallowed up by the indiscriminate compassion of the Beloved hanging on the cross for the whole world. It isn’t the healing and feeding that make this new creation life new. It is the new relationship with God, which Jesus brought into our midst that ultimately changes everything.

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – Reigning Together
The Pharisees and the disciples, the Syrophoenician woman and her daughter, the newly hearing and speaking man, the satiated crowd and even we can now participate and rejoice in God’s reign in our lives as we trust the Beloved, trust his freewheeling compassion, trust that he is indeed here for us. God now says of those who trust Christ, “You, too, are now my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – Moving Out with Compassion
Now that neither fear nor hardheartedness any longer control our lives, we are free to participate in God’s reign. We can roll back the power of evil by feeding and healing, by having compassion on the hurting world, by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of God, with anyone with ears to hear.


  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

    View all posts

About Us

In the early 1970s two seminary professors listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?”  That is how Crossings was born.


The Crossings Community, Inc. welcomes all people looking for a practice they can carry beyond the walls of their church service and into their daily lives. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, or gender in any policies or programs.

What do you think of the website and publications?

Send us your feedback!

Site designed by Unify Creative Agency

We’d love your thoughts…

Crossings has designed the website with streamlined look and feel, improved organization, comments and feedback features, and a new intro page for people just learning about the mission of Crossings!