Friday, April 27th. Mark 7:31-37

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’ Mark 7:31-37

Isn’t it interesting that this 7th chapter opened with a confrontation over laws of ritual cleanliness with Jesus quoting Isaiah, “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me,” but then ends with Jesus healing a man who couldn’t hear or speak.

Isn’t is also interesting that Jesus takes the man aside, away from the crowd, and heals him privately.  But then this healing results, once again, in people eagerly telling the story even though Jesus had told them not to.

A broken man honoring Jesus with his heart by showing up for help.  Religious leaders caught up in hand-washing while crowds are bringing the sick, the lame, the deaf, to Jesus for help.

Isn’t this an incredible disconnect?

I mentioned my mother in yesterday’s devotion, she comes back to mind again in this one.  One day, when I was still in the seminary, I was with my mom when a discussion about the faith started moving more toward an argument than a discussion.  I have no memory at all of what the conversation was about.  All I remember is that I said something that seemed to make sense and my mom, instead of backing me up, challenged me severely.

“Kerry,” she said, “you get so caught up in your head that you forget about your heart.  The Christian faith is simple.  ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’  That’s about all you need to know.”

I remember that moment because a miracle happened.  I immediately shut up and I learned something at the same time.

She was right.

So let’s move now into the weekend with the simplicity of this story ringing in our hearing ears.  Jesus restored the gift of hearing to a deaf man.  He loosened his tongue so he could speak.  Upon seeing this miracle the crowds, among whom we stand, were astounded beyond measure.

“He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

Let us pray:  Dear Lord, thank you today for the gift of life.  For ears that hear, lips that speak, and hearts turned back toward you.  Thank you for the gift of stories that intrigue us, challenge us, encourage us, and guide us.  May we both use and rejoice in those gifts as we gather in worship this weekend, and as we live throughout the week.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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