Summary: It’s God’s intention today that your eyes be open to see your Lord as one who has always been open to you and your needs. It’s His desire that your hearts cling to Him in faith, that they be open to the fire of His Spirit of faith and new living. It’s H
Pentecost 16 B
Mark 7: 31-37
There’s just something about seeing those words stamped on your paper. It’s great to get an “A” on a paper, a test or some assignment. It’s a confirmation that the hard work paid off, that the time you spent hitting the books wasn’t wasted. But there’s just something special about seeing the words, “Good Job!” affixed to your work as well. It’s an affirmation that goes beyond the grade. It lets you know that your work was done, not just to your satisfaction; but to that of others as well. It stood out. It was a grade above the rest. And it comes as nothing less today when we hear that Jesus had done everything well.
He certainly had. He had come from the borders of Tyre and Sidon where he had healed the daughter of the Syrophenician woman, and had now arrived back at the Sea of Galilee, passing through the midst of the coastal cities of the Decapolis, a confederation of ten cities. As in other places Jesus’ reputation precedes Him and large crowds of people flock to Him in order to catch a glimpse, perhaps even a demonstration of His power, or maybe to be the subject of one of Jesus’ incredible healings. On this one occasion a man that was deaf and who had a speech impediment was among those brought to Him. "Jesus. Master! This man has a terrible time speaking and hearing. Place your hand upon him and heal him."
It’s interesting to note how the people had their own ideas as to what Jesus would do. Jesus, on the other hand, has other concerns and intentions for this man, so He takes the man out and away from the confusion of the crowd. Then, alone, in a place where the man knows and understands that Jesus is going to do something for him, Jesus goes to work.
With the man’s eyes riveted upon Him Jesus uses sign language that is simple and plain so the deaf-mute can’t help but understand what Jesus is doing. He thrusts his fingers into the man’s ears conveying His intention to do something about his deafness. Then Jesus spits and touches the man’s tongue indicating with both actions that he is also about to do something about his ailing tongue. Then looking up into heaven and sighing in earnest before the Father in heaven, Jesus cries out "effatha", which translated means, "Be opened!" And immediately, Mark reports that "the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly." He was healed, and when the crowd saw what Jesus had done with the man they were overwhelmed with amazement.
I think it’s safe to say, though, that Jesus’ intention and desire was to open more than this man’s ears and tongue and more than the crowd’s jaws with astonishment. As always Jesus used his divine powers to open eyes, and hearts and hands as well.
John says it well at the end of his Gospel when he writes, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name." The opening of ears and mouths and other limbs was done to open peoples’ eyes, peoples’ hearts and peoples’ hands as well.
Physically there was nothing wrong with them, but His intention is to heal them spiritually. That’s why he looks up to heaven and sighs earnestly. He wants to open the eyes to see and understand that this healing is from heaven. It is divine, almighty help, far different from anything merely human. He wants to open hearts to believe that He is God’s chosen Savior; the one whom Isaiah has said would unstop the ears of the deaf and bring the mute tongue to shout for joy as we hear in the OT lesson today. He wants to open the man’s hands to the service of others and the sharing of this good news. And it’s not service out of a sense of obligation either, but out of joy for the new life and living that’s been given. He wants to spiritually open eyes and hearts and hands. Not just the one man’s, but those of all who were gathered there that day and ours as well; so that the affirmation that goes out from the crowd that day is right. He does do all things well.
They were right in saying so. He does do all things well. But evidently not too well in the eyes of many who were there that day because they wouldn’t follow his directions.