There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hands on the man.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus out 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 make the deaf hear and the mute to speak.”(Mark 7:32-37)
There is so much I love about this story! I love that there were some people who cared enough to bring their friend to Jesus. I love that these people were so certain that Jesus could do something to help, or to heal, their friend that they begged him to place his hands on the man. I love that somehow they thought that if Jesus just touched him, then something magical would happen. They were right.
And I love that Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd. For far too long, and in the worst possible way, this man had been the center of attention everywhere he went—and not the kind of attention that is normally seen as positive. He had been the object of points and stares and whispers. The target of shame and disgust and scorn. He had been seen through the eyes of judgment, the eyes of disdain, and the eyes of pity. And now Jesus simply wanted him focused on the Eyes of Love, so he took him aside, away from the crowd. There is a lesson to be learned here: If you want to have an intimate and healing encounter with Jesus, it is most likely to happen away from the crowd. Our problem is that typically we play to the crowd far more than we focus on Jesus.
I love that Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears, and then spit and touched the man’s tongue. Jesus identified the very areas that had brought this dear man so much pain and brokenness and ridicule, and put his hands right on those very places. That’s how Jesus works. He gets his healing hands of love and he places them directly on our most wounded, broken areas.
But it is what comes next that I love the most: Jesus looked up to heaven and then he sighed. “Okay, so what’s the big deal?” you might ask. “So he sighed, so what? What’s so significant about that?” Well, I’ll tell you what is so significant about it, it wasn’t just any ordinary sigh. This was not a bored sigh, or an indifferent sigh, or even a delighted sigh. It was actually more of a groan, the kind of groan that is talked about in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 5. A groan as in the pains of childbirth. This wasn’t any old sigh, it was a groan that came up from the core of Jesus’ being. It was a groan of sadness and pain and frustration; a groan that bemoaned the fact that life was not intended to be this way. It was a groan that recognized the deep brokenness and pain of God’s once beautiful, completely whole creation. It was the groan of a God who is heartbroken over our brokenness—a God who groans right along with us, until the day when everything will be made whole and new.
Now that’s a God I can get excited about. No wonder the people responded the way they did: They were overwhelmed with amazement and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Thanks be to God!
I stand amazed, Lord Jesus, that you care enough about my pain to groan. I stand amazed that you care enough about my pain to reach out your healing hands of love and touch the most broken places in my heart and life. Touch me with those hands today, that I might offer your healing touch to others in my life and world who desperately need to know you care. Amen.