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Yeshua in Context » Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua » Faith Obstacle

Faith Obstacle

In some recent commentary I prepared on the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30) I commented on the idea that Yeshua often put obstacles in the path of faith. A friend gave me some feedback. This observation is helpful in understanding a number of Yeshua’s interactions with people and it is also helpful in considering our own path of discipleship with Yeshua.

In what follows, I will cite a little of that commentary on Mark 7:24-30 and also give other examples of Yeshua putting faith-obstacles in the path of people trying to figure him out.

Here is an except from my commentary on Mark 7:24-30:

In favor of reading Yeshua’s intention favorably, we can say that it is often his way to place a difficulty in the way of people who come asking for help. He challenges people’s notions and requires signs of faith. Many of the miracle stories involve two stages, a request by a person seeking help and an obstacle to be overcome. This woman’s obstacle is being a gentile asking a Jewish healer for help. If we can follow the reading that takes Yeshua’s attitude as being actually sympathetic to the woman, we can say that her faith is remarkable. She is a model for gentile faith: someone willing to come to a Jew for salvation. Compared to many in Israel who refuse to believe, who are so set on nationalistic hopes for glory or who, as power-brokers wish to hold on to their domination over the people, this humble woman simply wants healing. No sense of ego gets in her way. Yeshua allows this woman to demonstrate humility and faith. It is a fair reading to assume that, as in other cases, Yeshua does not reveal all he is thinking. He probably used the incident, and the disciples probably kept telling the story, to show that all boundaries can be crossed, even the Jew-gentile boundary.

OTHER EXAMPLES (All cited in the RSV):

…Mark 10:21 Yeshua looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

…Matthew 8:19-20 A scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”

…Mark 4:11-12 For those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven.

…Matthew 9:28-29 The blind men came to him; and Yeshua said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes.

…Mark 9:23-24 “. . . but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Yeshua said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

…John 6:60, 66, Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” . . . After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.

…Luke 9:61-62 Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Yeshua said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

…Luke 14:33 So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

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Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Teaching of Yeshua

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