Yesterday we thought about a Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. And today we are looking at a miracle that Jesus did for an ordinary man, to make him hear and speak clearly. It is in Mark 7:31-37.
It begins with a few words that describe a very long preaching tour that Jesus and his disciples went on. There is some discrepancy about the actual route that Jesus took but it is estimated that Jesus walked around 255 miles on this journey. That is 255 miles captured in 24 words in a verse that is easily overlooked.
It reminds me again of how fit Jesus was and of how Jesus grew in stature. Jesus developed his fitness, on purpose and so must we. As a team, we hope to develop a 52 days theme around fitness and being healthy soon.
Some people brought a man to Jesus who was deaf and struggling to speak.
Jesus took the man aside, took him away from the crowd so that he wouldn’t be distracted. Jesus wanted the man to be completely focussed on him, just as Jesus was completely focused on the man. Plus, Jesus wasn’t performing in a show. This wasn’t some spectacle. Jesus was doing Kingdom work, he was about to set a man free from infirmities that were causing him great difficulties.
Jesus touched the man’s ears and put some of his own saliva on the man’s tongue. Clearly Coronavirus wasn’t a problem then! And when we say Do what Jesus did. Please don’t do this!!!!
I don’t know why Jesus virtually spat in the man’s mouth. I presume it was a way of indicating what he was doing and preparing the man for his healing.
Jesus looked to heaven. With just his eyes, Jesus was indicating to the man that he was being healed by the power of God.
Then Jesus groaned. Maybe he was tired from the long period of walking, teaching and ministry. Or maybe he sighed because this was another example of the brokenness in the world.
But, while scripture had specified that deaf people should not be cursed see Leviticus 19:14, according to one website I found on the Internet they also had limited rights to property and marriage and weren’t allowed to fully participate in the rituals of the temple.
I also suspect that people were not particularly understanding of deaf people in general at the time. In 360BC Socrates said that persons born perfect but with without speech gave no signs of intelligence. Therefore, he believed, they were incapable of language and ideas. Just a few years later Aristotle writes “Those born deaf all become senseless and incapable of reason” If this was the thinking at the time, it is no wonder that Jesus sighed!
Just before he healed this man, I like to think that Jesus paused, and groaned, to show his understanding and empathy for what this man had been living through.
Jesus then speaks directly to the man’s ears. The actual word he said is Ephphatha (effatha) which means ‘be opened.’ It’s a prayer command. He doesn’t pray and ask God to heal the man’s ears, he simply tells the ears to hear and in doing so the man is also able to speak clearly.
What a moment that must have been! But despite their excitement, Jesus tells the man and his friends not to tell anyone. I don’t know how Jesus thought that would work when the man when home and could hear and talk? I think people would notice.
There are lots of theories about why Jesus would not want people to talk about his miracles. We don’t know for sure but I think there are two reasons, the first is that Jesus didn’t want to become a sideshow. He was here to talk about the Kingdom of God, and the miracles were to point people to God, they were not entertainment!
The second reason I think is that Jesus knew how his ministry would end and didn’t want that journey to start before it needed to. He didn’t want the distraction of more controversy or even an early arrest to distract anyone from hearing what he had to say.
But still, it didn’t stop the people from being overwhelmed with amazement!
Now, we could have a long discussion here about whether miracles still happen today. Personally I believe they do. I believe they should be done to point people to God and I believe that we as believers, who have the Holy Spirit living in us are able to pray commands that open ears and eyes, that loosen tongues and that heal disease.
Have I prayed a prayed a command that has healed someone? Not that has caused anyone to be overwhelmed with amazement! But will I stop praying commands to heal people? No.
Tonight, If you know someone who is sick or in pain, why not see if you can pray with them for their healing. Using a prayer command to tell the damaged part of their body to be healed.
Why not also educate yourself about people who are deaf. Perhaps learn some sign language so that you can communicate with them. I have read that only 2% of the world’s deaf population have heard about Jesus. Is there anything we can do to change that?
Next time we are going to look at a parable about prayer. It is a story that Jesus told, that has a deeper spiritual meaning.