Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was coming to an end. Through what He has done, His divine nature was becoming clearer. Nevertheless, the Pharisees continued to test Him, asking Him for a sign from heaven.
Did You Know...?
1. Greek (7:26): The woman was not from Greece, but a Gentile by culture and religion.
Matthew calls the woman a Canaanite, referring to her nationality.
Jesus almost certainly spoke Greek to her.
2. Syro-Phoenician (7:26): An inhabitant of Phoenicia, which in New Testament times was part of the Roman province of Cilia and Syria.
3. Dogs (7:27): Wild dogs in Syria resemble jackals—nocturnal scavengers. In biblical times, and in many cultures, calling someone a dog was a great insult.
4. “Ephphatha!” (7:34): An Aramaic expression, which might imply that the man was not a Gentile.
5. Basket (8:8): A large basket (spuris), different from the ones in Mk 6:43. It is more like a hamper, big enough to hold a man (cf. Acts 9:25).
6. Dalmanutha (8:10): Also called Magdala or Magadan, it was the home of Mary Magdalene. It was likely south of Gennesaret.
7. Leaven/yeast (8:15): Leaven played an important part, not only in bread making but also in law, ritual, and religious teaching. Leaven was produced from bread flour kneaded without salt and kept until it fermented.
Yeast doesn’t grow, it permeates the dough. Only a small quantity is needed to make dough grow.
- Healing A Syro-Phoenician Woman’s Daughter (7:24-30)
- A woman asks Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter (7:24-26)
- Jesus refuses (7:27)
- The woman persists (7:28)
- Jesus casts out the demon (7:29-30)
- Healing A Deaf Man (7:31-37)
- People bring a deaf man to Jesus (7:31-32)
- Jesus restores the man’s hearing (7:33-35)
- People spread the news, in spite of Jesus’ instructions (7:36-37)
- Feeding Four Thousand (8:1-9)
- Jesus tells the disciples that they need to feed the crowd (8:1-5)
- Jesus feeds the crowd with seven loaves and a few small fish (8:6-9)
- Pharisees Question Jesus (8:10-21)
- Pharisees ask for a sign (8:10-11)
- Jesus refuses (8:12-13)
- Jesus warns the disciples (8:14-18)
- Jesus explains with the miracles of the loaves (8:19-21)
- Healing A Blind Man (8:22-26)
- People bring a blind man to Jesus (8:22)
- Jesus restores the man’s sight (8:23-25)
- Jesus tells the man to go home (8:26)
How are the three miracles in 7:24-30, 7:31-37, and 8:22-26 different from other miracles?Hide Answer
Through these miracles, Jesus showed even greater power than before. With a word, He cast out the demon from the woman’s daughter, even though He was not at her house. In both healing, Jesus led the men away from the multitudes instead of healing them in public. He also did more than just lay His hands on the man; he used His spit.
What signs from God do you ask for?
What is the significance of the woman’s ethnic and cultural background (7:26)?Hide Answer
She overcame the prejudice between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Jn 4:9). Even though she was a Gentile, she showed more faith and understanding than the disciples.
What did the woman mean by her reply (7:28)?Hide Answer
God’s mercy is great enough to satisfy both the children and the dogs. If she was as lowly as a dog, she was content to receive even a little bit of God’s power.
What was commendable about the woman?Hide Answer
The woman was persistent (cf. Mt 15:22-23). She did not demand Jesus to take certain actions (like laying His hands on her daughter [5:23]), nor did she take matters into her own hands (like the woman who suffered from bleeding [5:27]). She just fell at His feet and begged Him. Not only did she understand what Jesus meant (which is more than what you can say about the disciples), she answered humbly and wisely. She did not care if Jesus called her a dog, as long as her daughter would be healed. She also showed great faith. When Jesus told her to go, she went home without question.
Jesus usually was gentle with people who came to Him. Why did He insult the woman (cf. 7:27)?Hide Answer
One possible answer is that Jesus spoke according to the woman’s faith. He spoke harsh words to her because she had such an extraordinary faith and humility that she was able to overcome all hindrances. God does not give us a trial beyond what we can bear (1Cor 10:13). After this conversation, the woman must have grown in her faith and understanding of Jesus. In fact, her great faith as a Gentile served as a witness against the many faithless Jews.
What does each of the following represent? a. Children; b. Bread; c. Dogs; d. CrumbsHide Answer
a. Children—the Jews—“the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 15:24)
b. Bread—God’s mercy; Jesus Christ (Jn 6:33-35)
c. Dogs—the Gentiles
d. Crumbs—the leftovers; what the children do not want
What does this parable teach us about God’s salvation plan?Hide Answer
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. While Jesus never refrained from saving the Gentiles, He focused His ministry on the Jews. At this time, the Gentiles received only a small part of God’s grace, much like crumbs that fall off the table. However, like the Pharisees and the scribes, not all the Jews believed in Jesus (Rom 10:16).
God wants all to be saved (1Tim 2:4). He is the God of both the Jews and the Gentiles (Rom 3:29). Jesus commanded His disciples to preach the gospel “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Peter saw a vision telling Him to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-35). Today, all believers are God’s chosen people (Col 3:12; 1Pet 2:9), with the same blessings and responsibilities as the Israelites.
Questions combined with 8:22-26. See below.
Why did Jesus wait three days before feeding the crowd? What does this teach us about waiting for God?Hide Answer
Perhaps it was a test. As we mature in faith, God gives us tougher lessons. He makes us wait longer, to see if we will continue to trust in Him. Many in the crowd were starving (8:2-3), but they did not leave. Jesus was aware of this. At the right moment, He fed them until they were satisfied, just like the time when He fed five thousand. Also, note that Jesus also had not eaten for three days; He suffers with us.
What does the disciples’ question in 8:4 tell you about their faith?Hide Answer
They seemed to have forgotten that Jesus fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish. They still had not made the connection between Jesus’ miracles and His divine nature. Like Jesus said, their hearts were still hardened
Compare the feeding of four thousand to the feeding of five thousand (Mk 6:35-44). In which scenario was the crowd hungrier? Which had more leftovers? What does this teach us?Hide Answer
The five thousand were with Jesus for less than a day, while the four thousand were with Jesus for three days with nothing to eat. Jesus rewarded their greater faith with greater blessings. The five thousand had twelve two-gallon baskets (cf. Lesson 11, Did You Know 4) of leftovers, while the four thousand had seven man-sized baskets. Jesus gave them enough food to take with them on their long journey home (3). While God tests us according to our faith, He also supplies us according to our needs.
The following is a partial list of “signs from heaven” (8:11) found in the Old Testament. For each, list a similar sign given to prove Jesus’ divine nature. (cf. Mt 3:11; 28:2; Mk 1:11; 9:7; Lk 1:28; 2:10; Jn 6:33-35, 51; 12:28; 20:12). a. Angel (Gen 22:11; 2Kgs 6:17); b. Bread (Ex 16:4); c. Fire (Ex 19:18; 1Kgs 18:38, 2Chr 7:1); d. Voice (Ex 19:19; Dan 4:31)Hide Answer
a. Angel—Jesus’ birth (Lk 1:28; 2:10); Jesus’ resurrection (Mt 28:2; Jn 20:12)
b. Bread—Jesus’ body (Jn 6:33-35, 51)
c. Fire—Jesus’ Holy Spirit (Mt 3:11)
d. Voice—Jesus’ baptism (Mk 1:11); Jesus’ transfiguration (Mk 9:7); Jesus’ crucifixion and coming glory (Jn 12:28)
Why was it a test to ask Jesus for a sign?Hide Answer
The Pharisees did not come to Jesus to beg Him for help, but to accuse Him. They came “seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him” (8:11). This implies they still believed that Jesus’ miracles were not signs from heaven (cf. 3:22). Their questions echo the devil’s first temptation of Jesus (Mt 4:3, 6).
What does “this generation” (8:12) refer to?Hide Answer
Those who rejected God’s counsel (Lk 7:30-35), including the Pharisees.
What did Jesus mean by, “No sign shall be given to this generation” (8:12)?Hide Answer
Before and after this, Jesus performed undeniable miracles, and the Pharisees still did not believe. Furthermore, they did not realize that Jesus embodies every sign and miracle from heaven; Jesus is the one and only sign given. Through Jesus Christ, we receive the greatest miracle — the forgiveness of our sins (Lk 11:29-30, 32). To those who reject Jesus without a second thought, no sign will be given. They will be “ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding” (Isa 6:9, NIV).
What were the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod (8:15)? (cf. Mt 16:12; Lk 12:1; 1Cor 5:6,8)Hide Answer
Their teachings, hypocrisy, old self, malice and wickedness
Why did Jesus specifically remind the disciples of the leftovers? What did the two miracles of the loaves have to do with leaven?Hide Answer
Jesus took the opportunity to warn the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees (7:6-9) and of Herod (6:14-29). It is more important to guard against false teachings and sinful living than to be worried about filling our stomachs. However, the disciples were so preoccupied with having no bread that they missed the point.
Jesus did not rebuke the disciples for having forgotten to bring bread. But the disciples saw only the fact that they had only one loaf to split among them. Couldn’t Jesus have fed them with that one loaf?
What does the disciples’ discussion (8:16) teach us about interpreting the Bible?Hide Answer
The disciples were maturing in faith. Instead of panicking, they discussed what Jesus said, trying to figure out what He meant. It is good to share our interpretations with each other when we study the word of God. The disciples reached the wrong conclusion, and Jesus corrected them. When we study the Bible, it is also important to have proper guidance, from more experienced believers and the Holy Spirit.
Compare the healing of the deaf man in 7:31-37 with the healing of the blind man in 8:22-26. List the sequence of events for each miracle on Chart E below.Hide Answer
Healing the Deaf Man:
Healing the Blind Man:
How are the events similar? How are they different? What do the similarities and differences tell us about sharing our testimonies with others?Hide Answer
The events are very similar. By the same token, our faith is strengthened when we hear a testimony that we can relate to.
One notable difference is that the deaf man’s hearing and speech were immediately restored, whereas Jesus restored the blind man’s vision in two stages. God has a different timetable for each of us, but in the end, we all receive what we need.
Why did Jesus take the deaf man and the blind man away from the crowd?Hide Answer
The people who brought the men to Jesus had their expectations on what should happen (they asked Jesus to lay His hand on the man). Jesus took the man away from the commotion. Also, He did not want the news of the miracle to spread (7:36; 8:26).
Why did Jesus use His spit to heal?Hide Answer
Jn 9:1-12 is the only other record of Jesus healing with His spit. In that miracle, Jesus “anointed” (Jn 9:6, NKJV) the blind man’s eyes. Jesus used His spit perhaps to show that God uses the foolish and weak to do great things (1Cor 1:27-29). If the power comes from Jesus Christ, even something lowly and despised (like spit) can be used for noble purposes. Likewise, the humble servant shamed the educated Pharisees and scribes.
How are these two miracles related to what Jesus said in 8:17-18?Hide Answer
Deafness and blindness are a loss of our sensory perceptions. A greater disability is our hardened hearts (8:17). Jesus compared His disciples to the deaf and the blind because they did not understand nor remember. They remained oblivious to the miraculous signs.
God uses miracles and signs to strengthen our faith. However, our stubbornness makes us spiritually deaf and blind (Jn 12:37). For example, the Holy Spirit is manifested in ways we can see and hear (Acts 2:33), when we pray in tongues. Still, not everyone will believe when he or she witnesses the power of the Holy Spirit. Some might even mock praying in tongues (Acts 2:13).
Why do you think Jesus sighed (7:34)? Compare this to His reaction in 8:12.Hide Answer
Jesus sighed perhaps because the man’s physical deafness reminded Him of the spiritual deafness of the Pharisees (cf. Jn 9:39-41) and the disciples. Jesus was sad that the Pharisees continued to tempt Him. He must have been sadder that even His own disciples were deaf and blind to what He had been doing.