“First let the devoted ones be taken care of first – because it’s not good to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” She replied, saying, “Yes Master – but let the dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” Then he replied to her, “Because you have said this, you may go now – the demon has left your daughter.” (Mark 7:27-29)This discussion between Jesus and a Greek-Syrian woman has been mistranslated by most sectarian versions, and thus interpreted by many. Some have made Jesus appear racist with their interpretations and translations. This is not only incorrect. It is offensive.
Jesus made this statement to a woman who came to him and requested he remove an impure spirit from her daughter. Here is the text:
Because a woman – whose young daughter had an impure spirit – heard and approached him and fell at his feet. The woman was Greek – Syrian by race – and she pleaded for him to remove the demon from her daughter. (Mark 7:25-26)What does healing her daughter have to do with feeding "the children"?
Sectarian institutions and their teachers have misinterpreted that Jesus is referring to the Jews as "the children" - implying that the Syrian woman and her child are being referred to as "dogs" because of her race or nationality. We can see this clearly in the case of the New Living Testament version, where Mark 7:27 is mistranslated to:
“First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”Nothing in the Greek texts indicates Jesus states "my own family, the Jews."
This translation, coming from a long-held misinterpretation within sectarian institutions, insinuates that Jesus cared more about those who were from his nationality or family than he did for others - and that a particular race or family of people are the "chosen people."
Such an interpretation is offensive - to both Jesus and the Supreme Being.
Jesus did not identify with his physical bodyJesus stated this clearly when one of his students told him that his brother and mother were waiting for him outside:
“Who is my mother or my brothers?” And he looked around, upon those who sat around him, and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” Because whoever shall do God’s will – this is my brother, and my sister and mother!” (Mark 3:33-35)Thus we find here and elsewhere that Jesus did not identify himself or others as the physical body. If he did, he would have recognized the brother and mother of his body as his brother and mother.
Rather, he identified himself as a loving servant of the Supreme Being - and he identified his family as those who shared with him that intent to love and serve the Supreme Being - in this case, his disciples, who had given their lives to follow Jesus and thus follow Jesus' teachings to love and serve the Supreme Being.
God and Jesus are neither racist nor unfairJesus wasn't referring to any nationality or race as "dogs" as would be indicated with many interpretations and translations. Neither did he indicate that by "children" Jesus is referring to the Jews.
Such a consideration would be to assume that the Supreme Being favors those who are born in bodies of a particular nationality - or born into a body with a particular genetic family.
Such a notion is blasphemous - and offensive against the Supreme Being.
This nationalistic or racist notion has been repeated by others over the centuries. Some have considered themselves "chosen" because of being born into a particular race or country or family - or even become a member of a particular sect.
Such notions of "chosen people" would essentially mean that the Supreme Being is ultimately unfair.
Is God unfair? Does the Supreme Being give His mercy to some "chosen" and not others?
No. The Supreme Being gives His mercy equally to each of us.
The true meaning of Jesus' statementWe can better understand Jesus' statement in Mark 7:27 if we understand the devotional context. Jesus wasn't speaking of some arbitrary children here. He also wasn't speaking of a race of people - as in the Jews or any other race of people.
He was speaking of his students: His devoted followers - those who had dedicated themselves to following Jesus' teachings. Those who had made the choice in their lives to come to know and love and please the Supreme Being - by following Jesus. And with this choice - they are being described metaphorically as "children."
This is indicated by the Greek word τέκνον (teknon) in Mark 7:27. This word can be translated to "children," but also, according to the lexicon, "the votaries of wisdom, those souls who have, as it were, been nurtured and molded by wisdom." This indicates those who were devoted - and thus the Gospels of Jesus utilizes "devoted ones" as well as children in this translation.
Jesus is using an analogy. The metaphorical "bread" is his teachings. This is being "fed" to his students, and Jesus recognized his followers as devoted children. They deserved Jesus' attention and focus because they were committed to rekindling their relationship with the Supreme Being.
And those who were not serious about their spiritual relationship with God are most interested in using Jesus to heal their leg or get their demons exorcized. They are being compared to dogs by Jesus.
Jesus made a similar statement elsewhere in this respect:
"Don’t give what is Holy to the dogs; and don’t toss pearls before swine – or they will trample them under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces." (Matt. 7:6)Why are those not interested in God being compared to dogs? Because they were living like animals. They were being ignorant of their relationship with God, and simply living to eat, sleep, mate and defend. Isn't this basically the consciousness of a dog?
Just consider if we were sitting at the table having a conversation, and a couple of dogs were playing under the table. Will the dogs be taking part in the conversation? No. They are in their own world - concerned mostly about eating, or sniffing some butts and so on.
The true meaning of "chosen ones"Rather, it is each of us who make our choices - it is we who make the choice of whether we want to dedicate our life to the Supreme Being or dedicate ourselves to being famous, wealthy or to the family of my body - or to otherwise getting stuff for me.
This means we choose - and those who choose to dedicate themselves to the Supreme Being become the "chosen." Why?
Because the Supreme Being reciprocates such a choice. When a person chooses to dedicate themselves to the Supreme Being - offering their lives to Him - serving Him - and taking shelter of Him - the person is acting upon a relationship: They are relating with the Supreme Being.
So the Supreme Being simply relates back. He reciprocates such a relationship.
Let's use an example. Let's say that a strange cat is walking across the street from us and suddenly crosses the street and comes to us, meowing and affectionately rubbing up against us. What will we do? Most of us would pet the cat. Why? Because we are reciprocating the cat's affection. We are relating with the cat.
This also takes place between humans. If a boy approaches a girl and gives her flowers, what will she do? She'll probably thank him and smell them and then talk to the boy. She will reciprocate the offering.
God is a PersonYou see, most people do not consider the Supreme Being a person. They think of God as some kind of monolith or vague force. As such, they do not realize that they can exchange a relationship with the Supreme Being.
Yet this is precisely what Jesus came to teach us - that God is a Person, and we can come to love and serve Him as a person. That's why Jesus said the above - "whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."
The Greek word in Mark 3:35 being translated to "the will of" is θέλημα (thelēma). This word means "what one wishes or had determined shall be done" but also "will choice, inclination, desire, pleasure." It means, in other words, doing something that pleases the person.
Jesus was speaking of working to please the Supreme Being.
Only a person can be pleased. Only a person can have a will.
As such, Jesus is teaching his students that he is seeking to please God, because God is a person who can be pleased.
And Jesus taught that God is a person who can be loved - see below.
Jesus' interest was in those who had made the choiceJesus was focused upon those who were interested in changing their lives. They had made a choice to investigate their relationship with God.
Jesus does not want to divert his focus from those who are truly interested in hearing the Truth from him - and giving that focus - his time and energy - towards healing those bodies for those who weren't interested in their relationship with the Supreme Being - or even in their spiritual life.
Jesus' focus was not on healing bodiesJesus did not spend a lot of time just healing anyone and everyone. Sure, he did heal a few people. But if he was serious about healing everyone then he would have opened a hospital.
Why should he? Every body dies anyway. Every body gets sick and dies at some point.
Rather, Jesus' healings were specifically for those who showed an interest in following his teachings, and/or leading others to do so. He wasn't healing anyone and everyone.
We can evidence this element by what takes place after Jesus' statement. Here is the response by the woman:
She replied, saying, “Yes Master – but let the dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” Then he replied to her, “Because you have said this, you may go now – the demon has left your daughter.” (Mark 7:28-29)"Because you have said this" indicates that the woman's reply was pleasing to Jesus. Why?
Because she understood his analogy and responded in kind - first humbly referring to herself as eating the "crumbs" left over by the "children."
Because the "bread" refers to Jesus' teachings - which can save us - and the "crumbs" alludes to the fact that she is learning ("eating") from those teachings as well. She is saying that she is interested in learning about God from Jesus, in other words. She isn't seeing herself as being deserving - but she understands the value of following Jesus' teachings.
This pleased Jesus, and this is why he cleansed her daughter's body of the demon:
When she arrived at her house she found her daughter was lying on the bed and the demon had left her. (Mark 7:30)What we see here is reciprocation - the reciprocation of her choice to honor Jesus' teachings. We find that Jesus didn't care about classes of people - where someone's body was born or what family or what race. His interest was in her spiritual welfare.
After all, we are in these bodies only temporarily. But we are always God's children. The question is whether or not we will choose to become one of His loving children - His dedicated children.
Any of us can make this choice - at any time. There are no qualifications. And should we make this choice - we will become "chosen" because the Supreme Being will reciprocate our choice - by opening Himself up to us.
This is why Jesus wanted us to come to love the Supreme Being:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:30)