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

This text immediately brought to mind for me two very different memories. The first brought me back to my childhood and how cruel we could be to kids who looked or talked “different.” As cruel as it was, we weren’t above picking on such kids or making fun of them. It was then, and is always, despicable. I imagine that deaf man got more than a little bit of that along the way in his lifetime.

Sitting with those memories, the soundtrack in my mind started playing U2’s song, “When Love Comes to Town”:

When love comes to town I’m gonna jump that train.

When love comes to town I’m gonna catch that flame.

Maybe I was wrong to ever let you down

But I did what I did before love came to town.

Everything changes when love comes to town. Love gives us new ears to hear. New eyes to see. New tongues to talk. Love opens the world to us. Love changes the world.

Jesus received the deaf man. It is the sort of thing that Jesus repeatedly does. But he isn’t doing it for himself. He isn’t on a promotional tour. He isn’t hawking a book. He isn’t running for office. He isn’t encouraging the cult of celebrity. He helps people.

So quietly, privately, personally, Jesus touches a hurting man and he is healed.

That is what can happen when love comes to town.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, people can be so cruel to one another, even to the point of picking on people who live with very difficult physical challenges. Forgive us for anything like that that we have done along the way. Thank you for the hopefulness and the grace in this story of a man restored. Restore us. Open our eyes, our ears, our lips, that we might see and tell the story of your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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