Mark 7:24
An atmosphere of publicity about Christ: crowds follow him wherever they hear of his presence, and even in strange regions his fame anticipates him. The many who took advantage of his power to heal are forgotten in the special ease which now presented itself. This may have been the spiritual result of many unsatisfactory cases in which the cure only affected the body; the rumor of them awoke at least one heart to a new sense of spiritual power. Speaking about Jesus and his work in this place or that, to one soul or another, may be a blessing in unthought-of quarters. Jesus "could not be hid" for other reasons; his disciples were with him, and, more than all, he carried about in himself a revelation of love and pity that spoke to every heart. Spiritual influence is a mysterious thing, and yet there are some conditions of its exercise which are only too plainly declared. Matthew has a fuller account, but our evangelist gives us the chief details. The Saviour was touching the great world outside of Judaism, the scene of his greater ministry in the future through the Holy Spirit. The incident is remarkable, as suggesting this universal relation of him who as yet was but a Jewish Rabbi. It tells us the nature of the limitation which hemmed in his work, and how that limitation was to be removed, when he "should open the door of faith to the Gentiles."

I. AT THE DOOR OF MERCY. (Vers. 25, 26.)

1. The motive. It was not for herself, but her child, whose distress she sought to relieve. The nature of this "unclean spirit." Moral parallels. A mother's instinct: how near the human affections and family obligations bring us to the gospel! The instinct is a natural one, but tending to the spiritual. She was in the school of sorrow, noble and unselfish sorrow, which searches the heart and awakens the latent forces of the spiritual nature. How many have been brought by such sentiments and experiences to the cross!

2. The attraction. She had heard of him and his merciful works. We all stand in need of mercy, and are insensibly affected as we hear of its exercise upon others. Make known the Saviour, and proclaim his saving grace! The most unlooked-for will come. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." But now she saw and heard himself. Her great yearning, grieving heart read the lineaments of his countenance, and the character they expressed. "He will not turn me away." Christ, by his spiritual presence in the Word, ever touches human hearts thus, awaking by what he is the deepest longings and most instinctive trust.

II. THE DOOR AJAR. (Ver. 27.)

1. It sounds like a rebuff. What claims has she upon him? But:

2. Is really a trial of her faith. It sounds logically conclusive, yet is it intended to call forth the inmost spiritual nature. Delays and adverse experiences in prayer should not all at once be accepted as final Prayer is not a mere asking; it is a discipline. Remember Abraham's importunity.

3. Encouragement is given even under the appearance of refusal. Matthew: tells us of a silence that preceded this; for Christ to speak was itself an omen not to be despised. "First" is a word that hints at postponement, not ultimate rejection. And the picture he sketches is not to be taken literally, but is for the spiritual imagination. As the reasoner, in making an induction, introduces an clement into his reasoning that is not in the facts in themselves, so the petitioner at Heaven's throne must learn to interpret his experiences, and to sift the rejections that he may discover the elements of hope. Here the petitioner answers the objection by completing the picture in which it is couched. True, it would be wrong to cast the children's "loaf" to the dogs; but that is not the only conceivable way in which the dogs may be fed. Her Greek experience comes to her assistance. Whilst the Jews hated dogs as "unclean," and could not tolerate them in their houses, the Greeks had a peculiar affection for them, and tamed and trained them to feed from the band. In many a Greek home the dog had its place beside the table or beneath it. And the "crumbs found their way there in various ways, either by intention or accident. The term she uses is a diminutive of endearment. The twenty-eighth verse is full of dimmutives - "little dogs," "little children's," and "little crumbs" - which are full of subtle, tender appeal. This is her argument, then. It is a self-humiliating one, for she is willing to take the dogs' place. She is not a Jewess - a "child;" she is only a Gentile, and her daughter is "a little dog." And here is the children's loaf - the Bread of life - at the very edge of the table. May not some "little crumbs" fall over? To such humility, such faith, there can be no refusal; and there was never intended to be one. This is how we must all come to Heaven's door - vile, miserable sinners, with no claim save upon the mercy of God!

III. THE DOOR OPENED. (Vers. 29, 30.)

1. It is opened to faith. "For this saying." It was an inspiration of faith. She had found the master-key for all time, and as she used it the door flew open. If we but "ask in faith, nothing wavering," all our petitions will be granted.

2. It is opened by Divine grace. We are not to suppose the request granted because the feeling of Christ was wrought upon. The yielding has only a superficial appearance of being due to constraint. In reality the delay was but interpolated that the faith of the woman might be developed in her own soul and manifested to the Jewish spectators; and so the final answer would be justified on every hand, and prove a blessing to others beside the recipient. The cure is already effected when she returns home.

3. It stands open for ever to such petitioners. The ground of assent to her appeal having been "evidently set forth," she becomes a precedent for all believers to plead. She is the pioneer of all who, not being Jews according to the flesh, are nevertheless children of faithful Abraham according to the spirit. To all who thus believe the invitation is given, "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." - M.







But He could not be hid.
There are some persons in this world who cannot be hid: by birth, inheritance, or talent, they come to the front. But this was not the case here. Christ was but the reputed son of a village carpenter, a poor despised Nazarene. Yet He could not be hid. And no wonder. He had come to seek and save that which was lost, to fulfil all prophecy, to preach the everlasting gospel, to work such miracles as the world had never seen; therefore the fame of Him spread abroad.

1. The Lord Jesus Is not hid. He may be plainly seen by those who will use their eyes — in the works of creation, in His Word, in the effects of His grace.

2. He OUGHT not to be hid. We must renounce self to announce Christ. He is the only remedy for the yearning cry of humanity.

3. He CANNOT be hid. The Christian sky may be clouded for a time, but it will clear, and the Sun of Righteousness burst forth in fresh power and glory. All things are preparing for His coronation. He must reign. Over all man's resistance, His purpose must prevail.

4. He WILL not be hid. A day is coming, when every eye shall see Him, and self-deception will be no longer possible.

(J. Fleming, B. D.)

Because —

1. Great need will seek Him out.

2. True love will surely find Him.

3. Earnest faith will ever lead to Him.

4. His own heart will betray Him.

5. His disciples will make Him known.

(A. Rowland, B. A.)

Tacitus saith of Brutus — "The more he sought to secrete himself, the more he was noticed."

I. CHRIST DESIRED TO BE HID. He entered into a house, and would have no man know it. We are sure this desire was not prompted by fear or shame, that it did not spring from caprice or unworthy policy. One reason will be found —

1. In the modesty of high goodness. There is a religiousness which clamours for recognition. Far removed from this stagey pietism it the goodness which does not clamour for recognition. With all her magnificence, how modest is Nature. Christ's character and life is the grandeur of the firmament — silent, simple, severe. He enjoined upon His disciples constant sequestration, and Himself set the example. Let us remember the modesty illustrated by the Master, enjoined by Him. He forever discarded the trumpet. "Let your light so shine." Have we been anxious for distinction or applause? Have we cared for the foreground? Let us rise to a more perfect life, and we shall think less of society, less of ourselves, and live more than content in the eye of God.

2. The sensitiveness of high goodness constrained Christ to privacy. Wherever you find rare purity, you find this shrinking from the corruptions of the times. We find the same desire to escape from the world's wickedness in the Master Himself, and it is so shared by all His pure-hearted followers. Monasticism had its origin, to a considerable extent, in this shrinking of the saints from the corruptions of their age.

II. CHRIST COULD NOT BE HID. With all His miracle working power, He could not accomplish this; and all who are thoroughly like their Master share this inability. High goodness desires to hide; it cannot be hid.

1. Christ could not be hid because of the manifestiveness of such goodness. Goodness is self-revealing. This is true in large measure of genius, of culture, and this is preeminently true of character. It "cannot be hid." That Christ could not hide Himself is manifest from other passages than our text, e.g., when the disciples walked with Him to Emmaus. However carefully He might shroud Himself, some rift in the cloud, some shifting of the darkness, would betray the hidden glory. And, indeed, the course adopted of making Palestine the scene of the Incarnate Life is itself the supreme illustration of the necessary manifestations of glorious character. It is ever thus with worthy lives — hidden, they are revealed; all the more impressively revealed for the attempt at retirement and suppression. Christ could not be hid, because of humanity's felt need of what great goodness has to give. Mark the event which drew Christ forth from His sequestration. How she knew of the power and presence of Jesus it boots little to conjecture. Misery has a swift instinct for a helper, and, as Lange observes, "The keen sagacity with which need here scents out and finds her Saviour is of infinite, quite indeterminable, magnitude." All this is true, in its measure, of those who are like Christ. The world needs them, knows them, and denies them retirement and leisure.

3. Christ could not be hid, because of the self-sacrificing nature of His perfect goodness. When the afflicted woman made herself and her sorrow known to the Master, He did not refuse to come forth from His hiding place. Desiring to be hid, we are half like Jesus Christ; desiring to be hid, but forced by charity into the light, we are like Christ altogether. Let us, in these days of manifold luxury and chronic self-indulgence, remember the admonition of the Prophet (Amos 6:4-6).

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Culture of any kind is pained by contact with coarseness and imperfection. An eye schooled to beauty is pained misshapen thing, an ear schooled to harmony is tortured by dissonance, and thus a high, delicate, moral nature is wounded by the world's sin and shame. There is a goodness, maybe, which dwells with a wicked generation contentedly enough, simply because it is so little ahead of the generation; but a deeply true and spiritually tender nature suffers in all the sin and suffering of its neighbourhood. And this is the situation of Christ in the instance before us. He had seen the worst features of the age in the pharisaic lenity. All their lies and impurities were open to His eye, unutterably afflictive to His holy nature, and He retired before the impure atmosphere as before the breath of pestilence. They were defiled, hardened, blinded by sin, and He shrank from them with horror. His pure soul was grieved by the common sinfulness, hollowness, shamelessness; and heart sore, heart sick, he sought solitude and rest.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

The hidden violets proclaim their presence in every passing breeze; the lark, hidden in the light, fills all the landscape with music; and the vivid freshness of grass and flower betrays all the secret windings of the coy meadow stream. Thus superiority of mind and life all unconsciously reveals itself, makes itself everywhere known and felt as a thing of beauty and blessing — all the more penetrating for its softness, all the more subduing for its silence, all the more renowned for its secrecy. The still, small whisper shakes the world; those are crowned who shun greatness; the valley of humility is the peak of fame. The man of royal soul cannot hide himself. In his modesty he may draw a veil over his face, but the veil itself will share the transfiguration. Or, if constitutionally timid and retiring, the superiority of his spirit and method will declare itself, and the "unknown" are the "well-known." Or, he may be poor, illiterate, persecuted, yet will the innate grandeur shine through all poverty, rudeness, or unpopularity, winning the suffrages of all beholders. And as he cannot hide himself, neither can the world hide him. Never does the world appear more foolish than when it attempts to extinguish a burning and shining light. In the Indian legend, a mighty, wicked sorcerer seeks, with very poor success, to keep the sun, moon, and stars in three separate chests; and those who bare sought to suppress God's servants have succeeded no better. John was banished to Patrues; but far from sinking out of view in the solitary sea, he stands before the world amid sublimest illuminations, like his own "angel standing in the sun." They drove Luther into the Wartburg; but there, in translating the Scriptures into German, he became the cynosure of all eyes. Bunyan's enemies consigned him to Bedford gaol, and lo, he became known to the race, one of the foremost of the immortals of Christendom. Eminent goodness will out — neither men nor devils can keep it under a bushel.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

The Chinese have a wood which, buried some feet underground, fills the air with fragrance; and thus grand qualities, powers, graces, assert themselves through all obstructions, filling the atmosphere of earth with the fragrance of heaven.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Observers have stated that if flowers are placed in a window, the window closed and the blinds drawn, the bees outside are aware of the presence of flowers, and beat against the window panes, evidently anxious to reach them. This "action at a distance" is sufficiently wonderful; yet misery has a sense still more keen, faith a penetration yet more powerful. Christ "entered into a house, and would have no man know it," and no doubt took necessary measures to secure and preserve secrecy; but the sorrowful woman discovered His locality, apprehended His power and grace, and rested not till she gained that Plant of Renown whose leaves are "for the healing of the nations." The world in its pharisaical mood may spurn Christ and drive Him away, but as the world realizes its misery it feels its absolute need of Him, and feels after Him, if haply it may find Him.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. The purpose of God forbids that Christ should be hid.

II. The innate glory of the Son of God is another reason why He could not be hid.

III. The desperate need of sinners rendered it impossible that He should be hid.

IV. The boundless compassion of the Son of God accounts for the fact that He could not be hid.

V. The deep and abiding gratitude of His followers forbids that Christ should be hid.

(W. G. Lewis.)

What does this prove in respect to some of us We enter into a house and are hid — we are not inquired for, solicited, dragged unwillingly into the light. We wish to be let alone, and are let alone. What does all this reveal but the poverty of our nature? We are not sought out, for we are not worth seeking. A needy heart is an infallible divining rod to discern where the gold is hidden in the social strata, and if none inquire for us, if none disturb our solitude, we may infer with certainty that there is little preciousness in our nature either toward God or man. He who knows the deep things of God will be sought out far and wide, as the Queen of Sheba came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. A man of prayer will ever be importuned, and an interest be sought in his sympathy and supplication. The good Samaritan is known throughout the city, and his aid implored day and night. If a Christian abides hidden, there is little to hide. If we are greatly pure, sympathetic, wise, prayerful, we are worth discovering, and shall soon and often be discovered. If there is in us the sweetness of the Rose of Sharon, we shall not be permitted to waste our "sweetness on the desert air"; if there is in us the preciousness and beauty of God's jewels, we shall be fished from deepest caves to enrich the world.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Travellers tell that the forests of South America are full of the gem-like humming bird, yet you may sometimes ride for hours without seeing one. They are most difficult to see when perched among the branches, and almost indistinguishable flying among the flowering trees; it is only every now and then some accidental circumstance reveals the swarm of bejewelled creatures, and they flash upon the vision in white, red, green, blue, and purple. It is somewhat thus with society — the noblest, the most beautiful characters, are not the obtrusive ones. Going through life carelessly, one might think all the people common enough; reading the newspapers, one might suppose the world to contain only bad men; but it may comfort us to remember the truly great and good shun observation and walk humbly with God. The poorest and worst side of things is the most obvious. "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing;" and it is the glory of God's people to conceal themselves. Nevertheless, the time comes for their revelation, and then we are delighted to find how much silent, hidden goodness the world contains. The spectacle of want and woe draws forth the excellent ones of the earth; and however keen the trial of public life, however repugnant contact with scenes of sin and shame and suffering, all is bravely, cheerfully borne for the Saviour's sake and the world's betterment. When a true soul hesitates between the contemplative and active life, the example of Christ and love of Christ determines to self-renouncing service

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. The HUMANITY of Christ as revealing itself in the story. His fatigue was real: Nature did not spare Him. When the soul is constantly going out towards the objects of one's solicitude, the body may bear up bravely for a time; but Nature exacts her penalty.

II. There is also in these words a glimpse into something of A DIVINE PURPOSE. It was part of the Divine plan that Christ's immediate testimony should be conveyed to the Jews only; this involved great self-restraint.

III. This desire to be quiet in those regions, gives a PROPHETIC GLIMPSE. All the tenderness of God's heart will be disclosed when we are prepared for it.

IV. THE OVERTURE TO A MASTER'S WORK MAY SEEM SOMETIMES LONG AND NEEDLESS.

1. "He could not be hid." No, not even in these regions, where His ministry did not especially lie. Marvellous that the world should have got almost to disbelieve in the existence of a warm, generous heart.

2. How could Christ be hid? If He were a revelation, then He must be declared. There are great spring epochs in the working out of Divine thoughts and purposes; times when what had been concealed comes out to view. Love must reveal itself; so must life. If our inner life is to retain its force and beauty, it must manifest itself. A spiritual recluse is a mistake.

(G. J. Proctor.)

Life must reveal itself, and it must reveal itself after its own way. There is no need of parade and pomp to declare it. Christ-like piety, which is so delightful in all its phases, is specially so in this; while very courageous it is very modest; while gloriously strong it is very retiring. Parade and pomp were the prominent features of the Pharisees' religion. Blow the trumpet! Sound the alarm! Make way for virtue, temperance, zeal, and godliness! Make way indeed! But where is love, the soul of all life? Love is modest. Have you forgotten her? Forgotten her? Then never mind about the rest. Your virtue is merely an accident of circumstance or constitution; your temperance only desire worn out; your zeal and godliness only self-importance dressed in sober garb, undertaker's costume. No need of a flourish of trumpets and a beating of gongs to declare the true life. It must manifest itself, but not simply on state occasions. It will come to the light, but it would rather not have the limelight of a merely popular applause thrown upon it. It cannot be hid, but it will not speak of its own beauties. It will be self-assertive, but after the Christly sort. The life must be the light of men. A revealer of Divine mysteries and a redeemer of human sins and griefs could be no sealed fountain.

(G. J. Proctor.)

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