Parallel Text: Matthew 15:29-31
After some days in the region of Tyre, Jesus and the disciples moved on in the direction of Sidon, crossing into modern-day Syria, making their way finally to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee where they were confronted by large crowds; many were healed. Mark tells the story of the healing of one man in particular, a man who was both deaf and nearly unable to speak.
Jesus took the man aside, away from the commotion, and began His work. In so many cases, just touching Jesus’ garment brought about healing, in others, Jesus spoke and the job was complete, but in this case, the recipient of the healing was deaf, so Jesus made plain to the man what He was doing in other ways. First Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, picture in your mind what this would look like. Then Jesus spit! Apparently, this was a sign for the man to stick out his tongue, because Jesus was able to touch it. If you have the picture in your mind, Jesus has a finger from each hand in the guy’s ears, and probably one or both thumbs on his tongue.
At this point, Jesus looks to heaven, sighs deeply and says in Aramaic, “Be opened” and the man can hear and speak; he is healed.
Let he who has an ear hear, let him who has a tongue praise God.
It would be a matter of conjecture for me to explain why Jesus sighed deeply or why He didn’t just say “So ordered” when He was asked to heal this man, for the text itself does not say. It could be that Jesus thought of all of those who were deaf and mute who would not be healed that day. It might be that He took the effort to use His hands so that the man would be aware of exactly what was going on so that he would know that Jesus had done this… maybe.
Then Jesus once again goes the next step and asks the man not to tell anybody what happened. Of course, that people would see this man hearing and talking would make the question of what had happened inevitable, and it would be pretty much impossible for him not to say. Why did Jesus make this request?
Earlier in Mark, we were told that He wanted to keep the numbers in the crowd under control, but it was a little late for that now. The text doesn’t tell us, so I don’t know. Yet, I can offer an observation: Jesus had become a rock star at that point, but He wasn’t like the rock stars we might think of. Jesus was our role model, or better put, Jesus IS our role model! He was not healing and restoring people to wholeness to get His picture in the papers, He was fulfilling God’s will on earth.
What are we supposed to be doing? Aren’t we supposed to be leading people to Jesus so they might be made whole again? Are we supposed to be self-promoting in the process, or are we called upon to be humble as He was humble?
If nothing else, I should think it’s something to ponder.