‘He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak’ (Mark 7:37)
The prophet Isaiah envisions a day in which “the ears of the deaf [will be] unstopped” and “the tongue of the speechless [will] sing for joy.” This will be a time of utter renewal, he believes, when “waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water … ” (35:5-7a).
This vision is initially fulfilled in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Anointed by the Spirit at his baptism and filled with power, he engages in the work of healing. Today, a deaf man, impeded in his speech, is brought to the Lord. The people, we’re told, “begged him to lay his hand on him.” Jesus then “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” (Mark 7:32-35).
Jesus performed numerous physical healings in the course of his earthly ministry. And few Christiansseriously doubt that he continues to do so today, at least for some. Why else would we pray for ourselves and others in times of sickness? Yet giving physical wholeness merely scratches the surface of the Lord’s healing work
The spiritual wholeness which he offers is freely available to all. Luke relates that a healing miracle takes place as the disciples meet the risen Lord while making their way toward Emmaus. The “stranger,” through explaining the meaning of scripture, opens the disciples ‘ ears and minds to understanding (24: 13-32). At the same time, their tongues are loosed and they’re empowered to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Every Christian, at some point in this life, has experienced a healing miracle in which our ears and minds were opened to receive the good news and our tongues were released to proclaim salvation to others. For many it was a gradual miracle, the result of our upbringing in the faith. For others it happened suddenly, along a figurative road to Emmaus. It doesn’t matter.
The challenge for all of us is to continue Christ’s work of opening ears and loosening tongues in our own day — sharing the gospel with such clarity and conviction that others, in turn, are moved to share it as well.
Look it Up
In what way is Jesus’ baptism related to his healing ministry?
Think About It
What opportunities for evangelism have presented themselves to me today?