They “begged” Jesus to heal the man (Mark 7:31-37). Scripture says he was “a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech” (Mark 7:32). Jesus told the man’s ears and mouth to “Be Opened.” In Mark’s characteristic style, we are told that Jesus took action “and immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly” (Mark 7:35).
I tend to read this passage narrowly. In my mind’s eye, the man who received Jesus’s touch is someone who has dealt with impediments of hearing and speech for a long time. In other words, I don’t find the man immediately relatable.
But, what if I open my heart to the Spirit and I read this passage a little more … personally?
Can I admit to myself there are times I have failed to listen, to God and my neighbor? Will I let Jesus open my ears to hear more from the Spirit? Am I willing to listen more openly to my neighbor?
Can I see there are times I choose to be mute when I shouldn’t? Dare I confess the times I failed to speak out against injustice, greed, or the mistreatment of another?
Verse 32 says those who brought the man to Jesus “begged” for Jesus’s help. When I think about the political climate today—inside and outside the church—I think about people who, to me, seem to be deaf and mute about what really matters. I’ll admit I’ve encouraged God to open the ears of a few people when it comes to politics!
But in an instant, I’m reminded that perhaps I am the one who Jesus wants to get ahold of.
Maybe Jesus wants to put his fingers in my ears and touch my tongue, and say to me, “Be Opened.”
This story is unique to the Gospel of Mark (most of Mark is repeated in Matthew and Luke, but this story isn’t). It describes Jesus going beyond the Jewish community and encountering people who need him. It isn’t hard to imagine that Jesus knew he would encounter this man in a journey through the Decapolis. Maybe Jesus specifically wanted to open this man’s ears and release this man’s tongue.
When I read this story, I wonder if Jesus wants to put his fingers in my ears and touch my tongue, and say to me, “Be Opened.” Maybe I’m not better at hearing and speaking—in the way God wants me to—than the man in Mark 7?
In other words, this man needed Jesus’s help to be able to hear and to speak “plainly” (Mark 7:35). To be honest, I need Jesus’s help with that, too.
What about you? Do you find the deaf man relatable? When you reflect on your own life, are there times you have failed to hear or speak? Is there something in you that you need God to open? Tell me about it in the comments, in an e-mail, or on Facebook.
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