Matthew xv: 21 to 39;
Mark vii: 24, to viii: 26.
FTER the feeding of the five thousand, and the talk which followed it in the synagogue of Capernaum, Jesus no longer sought to preach to the people in crowds, as he had preached before. He had spoken his last words to the people of Galilee, and now he sought to be alone with his disciples, that he might teach them many things which they needed. Jesus knew that in a few months, less than a year, he would leave his disciples to carry on the work of preaching his gospel to the world. Before that time should come Jesus wished to teach and train his disciples; so he tried to be apart from the people and alone with these twelve men.
With this purpose in his mind, Jesus led his disciples away from Capernaum, across Galilee westward, to the land of Tyre and Sidon, near the Great Sea. On the border of this land he came to a village, and in it went with his disciples into a house. Jesus did not wish the people of the place to know that he was there; but he could not be hid.
A woman of that place, who was not of the Jewish race, but belonged to the old Canaanite people, heard of Jesus' coming. She sought out Jesus, and fell down before him, and begged him to come to her house and cure her daughter, in whom was an evil spirit. At first Jesus would not answer her, for he had not come to that place to do works of healing. But she kept on crying and calling upon Jesus to help her daughter, until the disciples said, "Master, send this woman away, for she is a trouble to us, crying out after us!"
The Gentile woman seeks Jesus for help.
They thought that a Gentile woman, one who did not belong to the race of Israel, was not worthy of the Lord's care. But Jesus wished to teach his disciples that he did care for this woman, though she was a Gentile and a stranger. To show them how strong was her faith, he said to her, "I am not sent to the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
But the woman would not be discouraged; she kept on saying, "Lord, help me!"
Jesus said to her again, "It is not fitting to take the children's bread, and throw it to the dogs!"
Then the woman said, "It is true, Lord; yet the little dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs!"
And Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great! It shall be done even as you ask. Go your way; the evil spirit is sent out of your daughter."
The woman believed the words that Jesus spoke. She went to her home, and there found her daughter resting upon the bed, freed from the evil spirit.
So many people sought to see Jesus in that place, that he left that land with his disciples, and went around Galilee, and came again to the country called Decapolis, on the east of the Sea of Galilee. You remember that Jesus had visited this country before, when he cast the army of evil spirits out of a man into the hogs, as we read in Story 125. At that time the people almost drove Jesus away from their land; but now they were glad to see him, and brought their sick to him to be healed. Perhaps they had heard from the man out of whom the evil spirits had gone; how kind and good and helpful Jesus was.
They led to Jesus a man who was deaf, and could not speak plainly. He was what we would call "tongue-tied." They asked Jesus to cure him; but Jesus would not do his work as a sight for men to look upon. He took the man away from the crowd, and when he was alone with him he put his fingers into the man's ears and touched his tongue. Then he looked up to heaven, and gave a sigh, and said to the man, "Be opened!"
Then the man's ears were opened, and his tongue was set free, so that he heard and spoke plainly. Jesus told the man, and those with him, not to let others know what he had done; but they could not keep from telling the good news to everybody. They were full of wonder, for they had not before seen the works of Jesus; and they said, "He has done all things well; he makes even the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak!"
And in the land of Decapolis, as before in Galilee, great crowds of people came to see and hear Jesus. They followed him, without thinking that they would need any food to eat; and Jesus said to his disciples, "I feel a pity for this people, for they have now been with me three days, and they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will faint by the way, for many of them came from far."
The disciples answered him, "How can we find bread for such a great crowd of people, here in a desert place, so far from the villages?"
"How many loaves of bread have you?" asked Jesus. They said, "We have seven loaves and a few small fishes."
Then he told all the people to sit down on the ground. When they were seated, Jesus took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks to God, and broke them, and gave them to his disciples, and they gave them to the people. Then, as before, he caused them to gather up the food that was left, and they filled seven large baskets with the pieces. At this time four thousand men were fed, besides women and children. And at once after the meal, he sent the people to their homes, and with his disciples went on board a boat, and sailed across the lake to a place on the western shore. There he stayed only a short time, and then sailed northward to Bethsaida, at the head of the lake.
At Bethsaida they brought to him a blind man, and asked him to touch his eyes. But Jesus would not heal the man while a crowd was looking on. He led the man by his hand out of the village alone. Then he spat on the man's eyes, and touched them with his hands, and said to him, "Can you see anything?"
The man looked up, and said, "I see men; but they look like trees walking."
Then again Jesus laid his hands upon the man's eyes. He looked once more, and now could see all things clearly. Jesus sent him to his home, and said to him, "Do not even go into the village, nor tell it to any one in the village."
For Jesus wished not to have crowds of people coming to him, but to be alone with his disciples, for he had many things to teach them.