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Spiritual Growth

Wesley Bible: A Study Guide

Journey of Faith: Session 3

By Glory E. Dharmaraj, Ph.D.

Real religion is a journey of faith working by love leading to holiness of heart and life. Wesleyan Core Term, "Real Religion," The Wesley Study Bible, page 1117


Syro-phoenician woman

Scripture   Matthew 15: 21-28, Mark 7: 24-30

LECTIO  DIVINA 
Use the method of divine reading or lectio divina

  • Read the Scripture passage slowly.
  • Ponder the words or phrases that stay with you.
  • Talk with God about what makes these words meaningful to you.

1: FAMA Method of doing Bible Studies:  
(The FAMA method is used in the Bible Women Training in teaching literacy in multiple ways such as Micro-Credit & literacy, Peace & Literacy, Health & Literacy, Human Rights and Literacy, etc.,  The Bible Study method above is  adapted from the  Pro-Literacy model).

FACT: 

  • What do you see in this story? 
  • Where is this story taking place in the story?
  • What do you think is happening? 

(More questions can be framed that draw on the realities in the story which allow the readers to sharpen their observation and enter the story and the discussion easily)

ASSOCIATION: 

  • How do you think the woman in the story is feeling? 
  • What do you know about the racial, ethnic, cultural, and language background of this woman? 
  • How do you think the disciples are feeling?
  • How about Jesus?  
  • Have you ever felt like one of them or some of them?

 (Questions that refer to personal experiences and the shared experiences from their own contexts)

MEANING: 

  • Paraphrase the dialogue between Jesus and the woman in your own words.
  • What are the key concepts in the story?
  • What are the struggles or challenges? 
  • Who are the "least of these" in this story? Who are the persons at the margins? 
  • What is the relevance of this story in your life? In your community? 

(Questions that help the readers to move into the next level of ideas, values, and  key thoughts in the story)

ACTION: 

  • How do Jesus and the woman redefine mission? 
  • What is mutuality in mission in this story?
  • How does this woman exemplify faith and tenacity?
  • What kind of spirit is needed today to undertake mission as givers and receivers

Meeting of Jesus and the woman at the boundary:
Jesus went to the border and margin to Tyre. There were tensions between Jews and Gentiles in the villages of the Tyrian-Galilean border region. 

While the woman crossed thresholds, Jesus broke borders right there. Anna May Say Pa, a theologian in Mynmar, says, "The woman challenges Jesus at the deepest point of his ministry: Is his mission only for the Jews? What about the Gentiles? Are they without hope?   She causes Jesus to change his timetable---not later---but now---not crumbs but the whole bread and cup of salvation."iii 

This is a faith story about a foreigner who comes to Jesus for the healing of her daughter. This mother has crossed the thresholds of race, religion, gender, language and ethnicity to come to Jesus for the gift of healing for her suffering daughter. 

Listen to the conversation between Jesus and the woman. Jesus defined his mission to her saying that he was called to minister to his own people, the Jews, first. He said, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs" (Mark 7:27-28). 
Jesus was caught, as a theologian says, with his "compassion down"! The woman had the audacity to challenge Jesus. I could hear this woman arguing with an accent! Jesus relented and said, "For saying that, you may go---the demon has left your daughter" (Mark 7:29). 

Readers of this story differ in their perspectives as to whether Jesus was testing her faith or whether he was taught a more inclusive mission.

Whatever the case may be, the key is Jesus listened to this ethnic woman's cry beyond the barriers of race, religion, gender, and language, and offered healing from his compassionate heart. 

Wesleyan Life Application: Faith
…Is it possible that faith can be in unexpected persons? Jesus sees faith not as a matter of accepting certain doctrinal teachings, but as trust that God can bring transformation (Luke 7:6). In the Wesleyan tradition, the journey of faith includes an expectation of transformation, change, and holy living. (page 1250). 

Life Application:  "Bold Faith"
…There is a "holy boldness" for the sake of the gospel, which does not contradict personal humility but dares to speak clearly and convincingly in favor of what is good and right. (page 1417)

Wesleyan Core Term: Grace and Faith
…Wesley was keen to point out that even our ability to have faith was the result of God's grace, God's presence in our lives and hearts, enabling us to believe in the redemptive power of Christ's passion (page 1539) 

Prayer:
Giver of faith and hope, remove our gnawing unbelief, help us exercise faith in your strength, and relax in your boundless grace. Amen.  

Click HereJourney of Faith: Session 4

iii Anna May Say Pa in her Dancing in Winter (Worldwide Ministries Division, Presbyterian Church, USA, 1989), 30. 


This Bible study was also published by United Methodist Publishing house; a print-friendly PDF can be downloaded from their site.

Last Updated: 03/17/2014
 
 

© 2014 United Methodist Women