Mark 7:31-37: OVERWHELMED WITH AMAZEMENT!
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
When was the last time you were overwhelmed with amazement because someone in your life did something so great, so surprising, so wonderful - so much that you were just overwhelmed? The popular TV show "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" tears down someone's rundown old house and builds a new one in its place. And the show makes the owner stand across the street from the new house and he can't see it because a bus is blocking the way. Remember what they make the owner say? "Bus driver, move that bus!" And the bus moves and the person is overwhelmed with amazement, laughing and crying and running around and hugging people because he sees a nice new house standing where the old run-down house used to be.
When was the last time you were overwhelmed with amazement? When was the last time you wanted to laugh and cry and run around and hug someone because someone did something so great for you? This morning we see Jesus perform a miracle, and the Bible tells us that all the people there were overwhelmed with amazement, literally in the original Greek - astonished beyond all measure. Let's take a look at how Jesus treated the man who needed help, how Jesus helped the man and loved the man. And as we do that, we're going to see how Jesus treats us and helps us and loves us. And may God fill us with an overwhelming amazement as we ponder his grace this morning.
Imagine having the problems this man had. The Bible says that he was "deaf and could hardly talk." Imagine spending your life in silence - you can see everyone around you moving their mouths, communicating, but all you hear is…… nothing! You want to understand what's going on around you - why are people laughing, or crying - what is everyone so excited about? But you hear…. Nothing. And you're frustrated and even though you're surrounded by people you feel isolated, alone. The Bible says this man "could hardly talk" - the Greek says that his tongue was chained up. Imagine not being able to express yourself. When you have a question, or when you need something, or when you want to tell someone what's inside of you - you can't. Nothing comes out of your mouth - just some noises no one understands and everyone looks at you and they're confused and shy away from you. Once again, so frustrating, and once again, you feel alone.
And then, the people in your life take you to this stranger you have never met before. The Bible says that they "begged Jesus to place his hands on the man." And you don’t know who this is, but you see that there is a crowd of people and they're all looking at you and looking at this man and you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable and frightened by all the commotion that’s going on around you. But the stranger takes you aside, away from the crowd, and that makes you feel better. And the stranger starts using sign language. You feel him put his fingers into your ears. You see him spit and feel him touch your tongue. It seems like he's saying that he's going to fix your ears and fix your tongue. You see him look up to heaven and give a deep sigh. You understand what he's saying - whatever is about to happen is from God in heaven.
And then Jesus speaks a word - "Ephphatha" - an Aramaic word meaning "be opened." The powerful word of God comes out of Jesus' mouth - the same powerful word that calmed storms and cast out demons and even created the universe out of nothing - Jesus speaks that powerful word to you - "be opened", he says, to your deaf ears and your chained up tongue, and suddenly you can hear and talk. Imagine being that man! All the things that you have been trying to understand - now you can hear. And all the things you've been trying to say - now you can talk. How would you feel?
The Bible says that "everyone was overwhelmed with amazement" - astonished beyond all measure. "He has done everything well," they said, "he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
What did it feel like to be that man? You have a lot in common with him. At some point in your life, someone brought you to Jesus, just like someone brought this man to Jesus. And Jesus looked at you, and no one needed to tell him what was wrong with you. He could see all the sin that you were born with. You and I came into this deaf, spiritually deaf - because of our sin, we couldn't understand anything about God even if we wanted to. We came into this world spiritually mute - because of our sin, we couldn't open our mouths and praise God even if we wanted to. There was so much sin inside of us - and Jesus saw that.
And just as Jesus loved the man in this story, Jesus loved you. And so he spoke words that made your sin go away. He said, "I forgive you. I love you." And at that moment, the powerful words of Jesus Christ healed your soul. Maybe Jesus spoke his Word to you in the waters of baptism. Or maybe Jesus spoke his Word to you through a friend or pastor or teacher speaking to you. And there, he healed you.
Jesus knows that we need sign language, just as that man did in Mark 7, and so today Jesus continues to speaks to us in a way we can see and touch - Jesus does that in the Lord's Supper. He gives us bread and wine, and tells us that this is his body and blood, the very body and blood he for us on the cross. If you have any doubts that I love you, Jesus says, if you're having a hard time hearing me or praising me because of your sin - then take and eat, take and drink, and know that you are forgiven, and that you are loved.
Back then, Jesus commanded the people to not tell anyone about this miracle. The time had not yet come for people to share the good news, not yet, according to Jesus' plan. But now, the time has come. "Go and make disciples," Jesus tells us. Today Jesus tells us to go and share with people the amazing things that our Savior has done in our lives. When you have the opportunity, tell people your story. "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation," Jesus says.
May God bless you with a heart that is always amazed at God's amazing grace, always overwhelmed by God's overwhelming love.
"He has done everything well," the people said about Jesus. When we think about our lives, we also can say, "He has done everything well." Amen.