Jesus Heals a Deaf Man
31 Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. 32 A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.
33 Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue. 34 Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, "Ephphatha," which means, "Be opened!" 35 Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
36 Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. 37 They were completely amazed and said again and again, "Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak."
Still traveling in predominantly Gentile territory, Jesus is met by a man who is deaf and whose speech is severely impeded. Calling him aside, Jesus touches first the man's ears and then his tongue. After looking up to heaven, Jesus commands the stopped organs to be opened, and the man is healed. The crowds were exuberant and continued spreading the news concerning Jesus.
Sidon ... the Ten Towns (Mark 7:31)
"Jesus left Phoenicia, but did not go back into Galilee. He rather went east and came down east of the Sea of Galilee into the region of the Greek cities of Decapolis. He thus kept out of the territory of Herod Antipas. He had been in this region when he healed the Gadarene demoniac and was asked to leave."595
Deaf ... speech impediment (Mark 7: 32)
Matthew lets us know that "[a] vast crowd brought to [Jesus] people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn't speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all" (Matthew 15:29-30, NLT). Mark chooses to key in on the man Jesus healed who was deaf and "almost mute" (Greek mogilalos),596 such that "when he spoke, people could hardly understand" him.597 The word used to describe this man's speech problem is used only here in the NT and, what's more, is the same word used in the LXX version of Isaiah 35: "Then ... the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then ... the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. ... " (Isaiah 35:5-6, NASB).598 This fact, along with Mark's many direct quotes from the book of Isaiah, tells us that "Mark saw the fulfillment of Isaiah's words in the healing ministry of Jesus."599
Jesus touched the man's ears and his tongue, indicating to him that Jesus was going to do something for those areas.600 As one source puts it: "In healing this man, Jesus used sign language and symbolic acts (which Mark did not explain) that uniquely suited the man's needs and caused him to exercise faith."601
When Mark wrote that the crowd ignored Jesus' command not to tell anyone about the miracle, his point seems to be "that although Jesus sought no publicity or sensationalism, his ministry was so powerful, so stunning in its results that people everywhere proclaimed it."602
To heal him (Mark 7:32)
This healing is an apt illustration of what it means to follow Jesus:
"Jesus ... went ... to ... the region of the Ten Towns" (v. 31). Jesus will meet us where we are and give us what is most needed in our particular situation.603
"Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone" (v. 33). We must be willing to leave the crowd behind and spend time alone with Jesus. "Silence that does not give rise to speech is dumbness. Speech that does not grow out of silence is chatter."604
"He put his fingers into the man's ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man's tongue. ... he ... said, 'Ephphatha,' which means, 'Be opened!'" (vv. 33-34). We must trust Jesus and cooperate with his efforts to heal our ears and tongue - that is, change the way we perceive reality (what we hear) and the way we communicate that reality to others (what we say). "Jesus wants to open the ears and eyes of all who are deaf and blind so that they may receive the light of life."605
"Looking up to heaven ... " (v. 34). We know that Jesus is from God and will work to bring about God's best for us.606
" ... he sighed ... " (v. 34). Jesus personally identifies with our pain and suffering.607
"They were completely amazed and said again and again, 'Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak'" (v. 37). We should be constantly amazed at what God has done and is doing in our lives. Moreover, our amazement should result in "a vociferous ["marked by or given to vehement insistent outcry"608] championship of Jesus in this pagan land."609
High in the King's Estimate
The story is told of a poor but devout Frenchman living in medieval Europe who often wrestled with doubt as he sought to live the Christian life. He assumed that God was displeased with him because of his struggles. Confused and disheartened, he sought the counsel of his spiritual advisor.
The clergyman answered with an illustration of two commanders, both of whom served the King of France. The first commander's duty station was a castle situated far inland and thus remote from danger. The other, however, commanded a castle that was located on the coast and was thus the object of constant attack and harassment. The clergyman then asked his young friend which of the two commanders the King valued most.
"Doubtless," said the poor man, "the King values him the most who has the hardest task, and braves the greatest dangers."
"You are right," replied his advisor, "And now apply this matter to your case and mine."610
Some Christians seem to have it made. They are the ones with good health, a loving family, and few financial worries. For other believers, however, life seems to be a constant series of severe struggles: bad health, no family to speak of, and no money to make things a little easier. If we fall into the latter category, we do well to remind ourselves that hardships do not mean God has stopped loving us. In fact, the exact opposite is true: because God loves us so much, he will give us the strength to endure any hardship - so long as we determine to make his glory our highest priority. We can rest assured that every hardship will be accompanied by enough of God's grace to endure it, and that God can and will use our hardships to make us better able to hear, understand, and obey him.
??? What can this passage teach us about hearing and speaking the things of God?