30 Jan. Mark 3:7-12

30 Jan. Non-Jewish foreigners flock to hear a Jewish preacher

"Jesus left with his followers for the [Galilean] lake, and a large [Jewish] crowd from Galilee followed him. Also many [Jewish] people came from Judea, [Gentiles] from the lands across the Jordan River and [Gentiles] from the area of Tyre and Sidon. When they heard what Jesus was doing, many people came to him."

"When Jesus saw the crowds, he told his followers to get a boat ready for him to keep people from crowding against him. He had healed many people, so all the sick were pushing towards him to touch him."

"When evil spirits saw Jesus, they fell down before him and shouted, 'You are the Son of God!' But Jesus strongly warned them not to tell who he was."

          (Mark 3:7-12)

 

 

When we read today's Bible passage in most English translations, we can easily miss the significance of this early report on Jesus's activities.

Geographical names like 'Galilee', 'Judea', the 'Decapolis' (the 'lands across the Jordan River' in the New Century Version translation quoted here) and 'the area of Tyre and Sidon' mean little to us. But to Jewish readers of Mark's gospel, they had huge significance.

Jewish readers would know immediately that, while the Galilee (in the north of modern-day Israel) and Judea (the southern area around Jerusalem) were Jewish areas, the 'Decapolis' to the east of the River Jordan and the area of Roman Syria to the north (around Tyre and Sidon) were non-Jewish areas where Gentiles lived.

So this passage is saying that Jesus was an INTERNATIONAL celebrity, and the crowds were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews).

Anyone who has been following this Bible study on previous days will know immediately that this was dynamite to the Jewish teachers of the law, as Jews were forbidden (according to the Jewish religious law) to mix with Gentiles (see Acts 10:28).

Yet the crowd following Jesus was a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, so any of the Jews present, according to the Pharisees, would have become 'ritually unclean' because of their contact with these 'foreigners'.

But Jesus loved these 'foreigners' just as much as he loved his fellow Jews, and he wasn't going to be hindered by the Jewish laws that said he'd become 'unclean' if he mixed with foreign Gentiles.

This change of attitude to 'foreigners' is often missed by modern readers, but to the Jews of Jesus's day, this was truly radical. We're often taught that Jesus came only to the Jews, while the Gentiles were 'converted' later by people such as Paul. But the gospels show us that it was much more complex than that!

The photo (by Dennis Jarvis) shows the Temple of Hercules in the citadel at Amman (now the capital of Jordan, and one of the 'Ten Cities' - the 'Decapolis' - to the east of the River Jordan in Jesus's day).

You can read more about The Decapolis @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/jesus-upsets-the-pharise…/


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