Gospel: Mark 7.24-37. This text includes two incidents. The first is outside of Israel when a mother pleads for her daughter who is ill with such humility and feeling that Jesus heals her though she is not an Israelite. The second is a miraculous healing of a deaf man.

Jesus’ healing people of their diseases reflects the coming kingdom of God in Israel and throughout the world. Other manifestations of the kingdom were celebratory meals that Jesus had with all sorts of people; miraculous feedings, correcting the law, doing good on the Sabbath, and forgiving sins. Such miracles by Jesus carried another message: that divine miracles could occur outside the Temple, which was  surprising because it was believed that God was present only in the Temple. The fact that Jesus could perform miracles of a divine nature showed that God was present in Him, and so that He was in effect replacing the Temple. The fact was further emphasized when He said (Jn 2.19) if the Temple was destroyed, He would raise it up again in three days, and the Scriptures said He was referring to the Temple of His body (Jn 2.21). In Israel it was believed that the Temple was where heaven and earth intersected (in Jerusalem) and that was where God resided on earth. Jesus, of course, gave many clues that God was present in Him. He said, for example, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father” (Jn 14.9) and “My Father and I are one” (Jn 10.30). But people usually did not believe Him and the Pharisees accused Him of blasphemy. Jesus cleansing the Temple (Mt  21.12,13; Jn 2. 13-16) expressed the divine condemnation that the Temple priests were corrupt and that the Temple was a “den of robbers”, and Jesus prophesied that it would be destroyed within the present generation (Mt 24.34), and this remarkable prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, within forty years of Jesus’ prophecy. There were many signs that the priesthood was corrupt. The Temple tax and the sale of sacrificial animals at exorbitant prices were cases in point. Jesus envisioned the day when Joel’s prophesy (2.28) would be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh so that believers became living temples (1 Cor 6.19; 1 Peter 2.5-6) that were scattered throughout the world rather than in just one place. When theTemple was destroyed by the Roman armies under Titus, the Jewish age came to an end in that the priests had lost the venue for their primary function of sacrificing animals for the remission of sins. Christ’s priestly offering of Himself as the true sacrifice, offered once and for all, as part of the new covenant and the new sacrifice brought to an end the need for the Temple and its sacrifices. Now believers in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, can confess their sins and call on the name of the Lord in prayer wherever they are and be heard and forgiven. Jesus, both true man and true God, who dwells with believers and in them, enables them to have free access to God at any time and place.

Memory Verse: Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb 10. 19-23).