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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’”—Mark 7:31–37 (NIV)
Often, Jesus will withdraw us to a separate place. For Moses, it was on a mountain near a burning bush; for Paul, the desert of Arabia. According to what we need to know, how we learn, the language we speak . . . He meets us in that place. His purpose and design are to open pathways for new insight and revelation.
For His disciples, Jesus withdrew them to the area of Tyre. There, they met a Gentile woman and her daughter was healed. This miracle came days after He taught how God is more interested in our thoughts and acts of mercy than holding to traditional demarcations (Mark 7:20–23). Jesus opened the door of salvation for all peoples. He gave the lesson and then modeled it, because soon, too soon, He would be gone, and they would be charged to go into Gentile nations and preach the gospel—the saving grace of God the Father through Jesus Christ.
For a deaf man in the Decapolis region, Jesus withdrew him aside from the crowd. Not to hide what He was doing, but to identify and communicate with the man in his silent language—to look him in the eye as He touched his ears (“I know you can’t hear”); to touch his tongue (“I know you can’t speak”); to look up to heaven (“God knows, too”); to cry out, “Be opened” (Ears to hear; a mouth to speak). Not only were the physical barriers removed (brain synapses instantly formed and an entire language immediately given), but spiritual barriers were overcome by the power of Jesus Christ.
The parallels here are significant:
For the disciples, Jesus crossed borders to teach them that no one is outside the love of God. Paul would later attest, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NKJV).
For the deaf man, Jesus opened pathways to teach him that God understands our situations, our infirmities, and our sufferings. The author of Hebrews confides our Lord is a sympathetic King, and we can draw near to Him to receive mercy and grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:15–16).
When Jesus withdraws us to a separate place with Him, we experience a personal Ephphatha of spiritual wisdom. May we be open to what we see, hear, what is opened, and what is allowed so that when we emerge, we do so with new revelation to cherish and share.
Pause: Can you think of a time Jesus took you aside and gave you new insight or taught you something about Himself? Think about what you gained from that time.
Practice: How can you use what He gave you to honor and glorify Him? Read the hymn “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley and keep that close to your heart and on your lips.
Pray: Lord, I thank You for crossing the borders of my life and for opening pathways for my understanding and knowledge. For the wisdom You have imparted, I ask for open doors to expound Your triumphs and share with others Your lovingkindness and grace. Amen.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.