Life, Like It’s Meant to Be

Life, Like It’s Meant to Be | Mark 7:31-37

“Again, leaving the region of Tyre, He went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, through the region of the Decapolis. They brought to Him a deaf man who also had a speech difficulty, and begged Jesus to lay His hand on him. So He took him away from the crowd privately. After putting His fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, He touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed deeply and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened! ”). Immediately his ears were opened, his speech difficulty was removed, and he began to speak clearly. Then He ordered them to tell no one, but the more He would order them, the more they would proclaim it. They were extremely astonished and said, “He has done everything well! He even makes deaf people hear, and people unable to speak, talk! ” (Mark 7:31-37 HCSB)

Did you dream when you were a child? I did and I remember some of my dreams quite well. When I was about eight years old, I remember dreaming that I was flying like Superman and then, quite suddenly, I woke up as I hit the floor because I had fallen out of bed. There’s nothing quite like having a dream dashed by the reality of your inabilities. You can dream of flying like Superman but doing so is very difficult indeed. Some dreams are realized but many are not. Dreams have the ability to push us or, perhaps pull some of us who are a bit more reluctant, beyond our perceived limits into the realm of possibilities and even beyond, into the realm of impossibilities.

While I doubt that I’ll be flying like Superman anytime soon, there are some of those things that I’ve achieved and others that are still just dreams. While I believe we are all quite capable of being and doing much more than we often realize, I also recognize that we all have our physical and mental limits and specific God-given abilities, talents and skills. No matter how much I might want it, I will never be a talented musician or singer. I’m just not skilled in that area. No matter how hard I try, I’m just not able to understand and master advanced mathematics. As they say, play to your strengths and I do. I’m gifted in the technology area and I’ve made a good career and a good life using those gifts and honing those skills that God has given to me.

But, I’ve also learned that there are some areas in which God has not blessed me. As I mentioned, I’m not going to do well if I seek a position as a math professor or an opera singer. One of the great things about America is the idea that anyone can become anything they want, but that’s simply not true. The idea is that “if you want it enough then you can work hard and achieve it.” But there’s an underlying, unstated assumption in that idea: that you possess the innate abilities to do that specific task or achieve that goal and can develop your skill and knowledge to do it well enough to achieve success. So, let me say it again… I’ll never fly like Superman. I simply don’t possess that ability no matter how much I might want it or work at it. To be quite honest, if I try then I’ll continue to fall flat on my face just like I did when I was eight. Simply put, I just don’t possess the ability to fly no matter how much I might desire it.

In this week’s focal passage, we are going to encounter a man who is deaf and unable to speak plainly. His friends bring him to Jesus and beg Jesus to touch him, to heal him. While the man had no ability to heal himself, Jesus does. Let’s take a look…

If you’ll recall from last week, Jesus has taken the disciples and has headed northwest from Capernaum into the region of Tyre, which is about 25 miles or so northwest from the Sea of Galilee in Lebanon along the Mediterranean coast. Some scholars struggle with Mark’s account regarding the very circuitous route that was apparently taken. Leaving Tyre the group first heads north towards Sidon and then swings back south towards the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee to the Decapolis (ten cities) region. This is the same region where Jesus encountered the man possessed by the legion of demons in the Gerasene region in Mark 5. Let me just say, it isn’t difficult to understand Jesus’ intent if you pay attention to Mark’s description of the events and keep in mind the Old Testament prophecies, specifically Isaiah 29 and 35.

What is often overlooked in our Old Testament studies is that it is also the story of Jesus but in the words of prophecy and promise. It begins with the story of creation and the beautiful intent of God’s work: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31a HCSB) Then the good that He had created was broken by man’s rebellion as they disobeyed God’s command and ate from the tree He had forbidden. From that point forward, all of scripture is about God’s work at redeeming man and restoring His creation to what it was intended to be and that’s where Jesus comes into the picture. He is the one God promised who would come and bring redemption and restoration to us and that is really the intent and focus of Mark’s gospel story.

In this portion of Mark’s story of redemption and restoration, we find Jesus fulfilling the very prophecies of Isaiah as He leaves Capernaum and delves deep into Lebanon with the power of God and the introduction of His kingdom among men. Last week, we encountered a woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon and she demonstrated tremendous faith as she begged to eat the crumbs of grace that fall from the children’s table. Jesus honored her faith and drove the demon from her daughter with nothing more than His word. This week, we encounter a deaf man who also has a speech impediment that needs the touch of the Messiah. How is this a fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem and restore? Listen to Isaiah:

The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It will blossom abundantly and will also rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the cowardly: “Be strong; do not fear! Here is your God; vengeance is coming. God’s retribution is coming; He will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool of water, and the thirsty land springs of water. In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs, there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus. A road will be there and a way; it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the one who walks the path. Even the fool will not go astray. There will be no lion there, and no vicious beast will go up on it; they will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk on it, and the redeemed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.” (Isaiah 35:1-10 HCSB)

Notice, they brought to Jesus a deaf man who also had a speech difficulty and begged Him to lay His hand on the man. So, Jesus takes the man (and we assume his friends) away from the crowd to a private place. Jesus then seems to communicate to the man His intentions by placing His fingers in the man’s ears and removing them and then spitting and touching the man’s tongue. Jesus then looks up towards heaven, sighs deeply and says to him, “Be opened!” Mark gives us the precise Aramaic word Jesus speaks, “Ephphatha!” Immediately the man’s ears are opened and his “tongue is unshackled” or the impediment released and removed and he begins to speak clearly!

Let Isaiah’s words ring in your ears. Listen, the ears of the deaf will be unstopped and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. There will be a path, a road and it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for the One who walks the path, the redeemed will walk on it and will return to Zion singing, crowned with eternal joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.

What is Mark telling us? Jesus is the one walking that path, the Holy Way and those who come to Him by faith are redeemed and walk with Him on that path, singing, filled with eternal joy and gladness because all of their sorrow and sighing has fled from His presence, their redeemer — the promised Messiah, Son of Man and Son of God.

Next, notice that Jesus orders them to tell no one, but the more He would order them the more they would proclaim it. Oh church, how we need to hear this! He ordered them to tell no one and they couldn’t remain silent because of their joy. He has ordered us to proclaim it and we grow quiet and He can’t seem to shake us out of our silence. Why? How can we remain silent when we’ve been touched and transformed by Almighty God? I think the wonder and awe has faded in the face of familiar and common.

“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch, like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” — John Newton

Grace is no longer amazing to us because we’ve lost sight of our own filthy wretchedness, the overwhelming sense of our lostness and the foreboding darkness of spiritual blindness. Until we remember that we once were dead men but now we are alive, we will walk around silent about the new chance at life we’ve been given. These men could not remain silent about this because of the awe and wonder they had experienced at the hands of God. As Mark says, “they were extremely astonished”. Shock and awe resulted in exuberant proclamation regarding what they had just experienced, the very presence and power of God.

So, let me conclude by drawing your attention to what they said in their response to their astonishment, “He has done everything well! He even makes deaf people hear, and people unable to speak, talk!” He has done everything well (or good) is reminiscent of the words in Genesis, “God saw all that He had done, and it was very good.” Jesus has done everything good! He has restored God’s goodness to this man’s life. This man didn’t just get his hearing and speech restored, he had his “good” life with God restored. He’s now walking that renewed path, the Holy Way, through the wilderness of life alongside Jesus, just as Isaiah described.

Our sin and rebellion against God has expelled us from the path of joy in life. We want it. We seek it. We try and find it in all of these empty and meaningless ways and completely miss it. If you’ll stop and notice, Jesus is beckoning for you to join Him on that path, the Holy Way. He says, “Come walk with Me and I’ll show you the way, I’ll tell you the truth you need to hear and I’ll give you the life you really seek.” He has done EVERYTHING well and He even makes deaf people hear and people unable to speak, talk!

He’s done that for me and He’s willing to do that for you, too. Come walk with us. Believe Him. Trust Him. Walk with Him. I promise, He’ll transform you and give you the life you’ve really been seeking. When He does, you’ll be utterly astonished and tell everyone, too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: