Mark 7:31-37 31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 8:1-10 1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry He was expanding His disciples’ understanding of the new Kingdom of God that Jesus was establishing. He first makes it known to His disciples how different this Kingdom is as compared to what they had expected. The disciples believed that Jesus was the Christ but they would have been convinced like the majority of the Jews that Jesus came to restore their nation politically. But Jesus didn’t come to release Israel from Roman captivity but to establish a new Kingdom wherein righteousness reigns. He teaches His disciples the spiritual nature of His Kingdom. Next Jesus shows His disciples the false teaching of the religious leaders and that this Kingdom will include the nations. Jesus didn’t come to save Israel but individuals from every tribe and nation. He then contrasts the false faith of the Pharisees with the genuine faith of a Gentile woman (a foreigner) who was willing to receive the scraps from the table if that was necessary to know Jesus Christ. This would have been very confusing for the disciples as the Pharisees were looked up to and the Gentiles were viewed as wicked sinners. Jesus was making known to His disciples that He was indeed the Christ but He wasn’t what they were expecting. They would need to humble themselves before God and be willing to acknowledge that they were wrong in who they thought that He would be. God’s plan of salvation would be a surprise to them and it would take time for them to believe and understand.
As Jesus is stretching their understanding of who He is and God’s plan of salvation and this new Kingdom of God, Jesus heals a deaf person with a speech impediment in rather an amazing way. He puts His fingers into the man’s ears and also touches his tongue after spitting on His hand. Then he speaks in Aramaic, the common language of the people, saying “Be opened.” Why would He do so? This again was done in private to not draw attention.
Who were not speaking the truth to the common people? The Pharisees. They were leading the people astray. And so Jesus would shut the ears of those who thought they knew better and He would open the ears of those who could not hear. He would speak plainly to those who did not understand and in parables to those who thought they could understand. He would open the ears of the weak and the destitute and stop the ears of the proud and the arrogant.
Among those who were deaf and unable to hear were the Gentiles. For thousands of years the nations outside of Israel were on the outside and unable to hear. They did not have the Word of God or understand but now, in this new Kingdom of God that Jesus was establishing, they would be included. Jesus makes this known as He miraculously provides for the crowd of 4,000. This miracle was very similar to when He fed the 5,000 but this time His purpose was different. There were 7 large baskets left over representing the 70 known nations upon the earth. Not only was the Gospel message for the 12 tribes of Israel but for all the nations. This new Kingdom of God would span across nations as the Church was established 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead.
But how sad it is that today there continues to be those who claim to be Christians but are just like the Pharisees. They are unwilling to humble themselves before God and they claim to know the way to God but they are deceived. They cannot hear and they speak with a speech impediment while claiming to be the source of truth. Be careful that you are not listening to these false teachers. Unfortunately many people have been led to believe that Christianity is what they teach but this is a false Gospel. They never knew Jesus although they may use Jesus’ name.
But how wonderful it is for those who do not think that they could ever hear. If you are among those who feel as if there is no hope, if you feel like you are the one on the outside, it is to you that Jesus desires to save. Turn to Him with all your heart and He will unstop your ears. He will enable you to speak the unfathomable wonders of God! Even through your mouth the Good News can be spoken clearly. God can glorify Himself through you if you will repent and believe. Jesus can fill you with gladness and joy and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Jesus sighed as He healed the man. His love and compassion for the lost who are willing to turn to Him to be healed is beyond comprehension. If only we will seek His touch we will hear Him!
Isaiah 35:5-6 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Pastor Murray Hack