Insert text here.
The man who could not talk, in the end talked too much.
Departing from Tyre and Sidon, Jesus came through the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. They brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and begged Him to put His hand on him.
Jesus took him aside from the multitude, put His fingers in his ears and spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, "Be opened." Immediately his ears were opened and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.
Then Jesus commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. They were astonished beyond measure, saying, "He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak."
Mark 7:31-37 NKJV, condensed
EAR WAX AND SPIT
What a strange miracle, it's so primitive it almost sounds crude. Sticking fingers in ears! Putting your spit on another person's tongue! Commanding someone who could not hear to open their ears! Why all the fuss and to do, when Jesus could heal with just a word?
Jesus was purposely taking a roundabout way home, avoiding crowds in order to be alone with his disciples. He had much to teach the Twelve before his final, fatal trip to Jerusalem. That's why he didn't want people telling everyone about his ability to heal. Because one astonishing deed demanded another.
Skirting the edges of Galilee, he went south of the Lake and into another Gentile region. Along the way, some people crossed the cultural lines and approached the Jewish miracle worker with the request, "Please touch this fellow and make him right." The deaf man never asked for healing, those who brought him did it for him. Did these people love this strange man? Or were they just inconvenienced by him, and wanting their problem solved?
The spotlight was on the guy whose world was as silent as falling snow, but not nearly so clean and gentle. By calling him a deaf man, we know only his chief deficiency and nothing more. Most likely his personality had been shaped by those who got no further than the oddity of his deafness and incomprehensible utterances. Jesus led the man aside, away from the antics and reactions of the gathering crowd. There was more to deal with than just his ears and tongue.
This healing is unique because Jesus communicated tactilely what He was about to do. Fingers in ears, spit on the tongue. By doing so, the dear man began to visualize a miracle. The seeds of faith and hope started to grow. When Jesus directed his gaze upward, the deaf one would have mirrored that behavior, thereby lifting his eyes off the realities of earth and into the possibilities of heaven. He could see Jesus sigh deeply, and feel him doing battle with the muted chains of his bondage.
Then Jesus spoke to the very soul of this deaf man, "Be opened!" At once, his ears were freed from the maddening silence and his tongue loosed. When Jesus broke those identifying bonds, the deaf man could hear and speak perfectly. He would need a new name because he was no longer what he used to be.
What is the beauty and special quality of this experience which propelled it onto the pages of our Gospel accounts? Was it the faith of his friends? Was it the time apart from the crowds, one on one with Jesus? Or the gentle touching as Jesus showed him what he was about to do? Possibly the joy and delight of hearing and speaking with clarity? Or the thrilling relief of a victory won?
Most of us, in a spiritual sense, need this miracle also. There is so much going on in our heads we do not hear the voice of God; neither do we know how to verbalize the significance of our faith. We hunger for a one on one with Jesus and the assurance we are dearly loved by our Father in heaven. We long to hear the words of our Lord and share them with friends and neighbors. We need help to look toward God and not around at what others may think and say about us.
We, too, want to know how to hear and give voice to the sum and substance of our soul. Sometimes our faithful friends bring us. Maybe it's our own dissatisfaction with the way we are. Or tears of sorrow motivate us. However we come, these Gospel stories tell us of God's loving kindness. Jesus meets us in our need, but we must obey in order to be healed. Being deaf is no excuse and does not prevent Jesus from speaking to us. "Be opened!" is what he said to the deaf man, and faith must obey.
Jesus typically enlisted the cooperation of the people he encountered, as though they had to participate in their own healing. He gave some of them all the credit and said it was their faith that made them well. Miracles are like that--partnering with God. We must let it happen, help it happen, make it happen. We do whatever we can and God does the rest.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: Everyone has stories about their favorite mispronounced words. What is yours?
Imagine being deaf and unable to hear voices and other sounds. What are some things you would miss hearing the most? How would you learn to speak without hearing words pronounced?
If you had to give up one of your five senses and were able to determine which it would be, would you choose to lose your sight, hearing, speech, touch or taste?
If you could only learn about God from looking at and observing the people around you, what would you know about God? Would you have a positive or negative conception of God? How could you, as a deaf person, learn to have faith?
Jesus showed tenderness to the deaf man who couldn't vocalize his thoughts. When have you known the frustration of not being understood? How has Jesus shown loving kindness to you? In what ways do you show gentleness and consideration to others?
Jesus took the deaf man aside and showed the dear man what he was going to do. Jesus looked to heaven. Sighed a prayer. And commanded, "Be opened." How is that like hitting a home run?
Jesus preached often about ears that don't hear and really listen to what he said. If we are spiritually deaf, what prevents us from listening to God?
In this episode, to whom was Jesus speaking when he said, "Be opened"? The words, "Be opened!" could also be directed to each of us. What do these words mean specifically to, and for, you? Is there anything in your life which needs to be opened up? Who or what is responsible for doing the opening?
Picture yourself being alone with Jesus one to one. What would you want to say to Jesus? What would Jesus say to you?Away from the onlookers, Jesus broke the power outsiders had on the deaf man. Think about the powers which outside forces have on you. Which of those powers would you like broken?
If you need a miracle, how can you cooperate with God to make it happen?