May 9, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Be still and rest in the Lord: wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.”
Psalm 37: 7
“Have you prayed and prayed and waited and waited, and still there is no manifestation? Are you tired of seeing nothing move? Are you just at the point of giving it all up? Perhaps you have not waited in the right way? This would take you out of the right place – the place where God can meet you. ‘With patience wait’ (Romans 8: 25). Patience takes away worry. He said He would come, and His promise is equal to His presence. Patience takes away your weeping…He knows your need better than you do, and His purpose in waiting is to bring more glory out of it all. Patience takes away self-works. The work He desires is that you ‘believe’ (John 6: 29), and when you believe, you may then know that all is well. Patience takes away want. Your desire for the thing you wish is perhaps stronger then your desire for the will of God to be fulfilled in its arrival. Patience takes away all weakening. Instead of having the delaying time, a time of letting go, know that God is getting a larger supply ready and must get you ready too.”
Charles Henry Parkhurst
Today’s Study Text:
“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 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 release, 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
“Behold The Man” – Part 19
“Life In a Fractured Community” Part B
“When we respond to the gospel, our ears are opened and our tongues are released.”
Douglas R. A. Hare
How open are my ears to hearing God’s voice in my life?
How am I using my speech, the words I speak, to bring glory to God?
“No good doctor treats all their patients the same. Neither did Jesus. He knew that, if he was to cure people, it was not enough to be wise; it was at least equally necessary to be kind.”
And He Had Compassion
“Say to those who are of a fearful and hasty heart, ‘Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come’…then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy.”
Isaiah 35: 5, 6
If you were “one” in the crowd of people following Jesus, the trip to the region of Tyre had certainly started out with the miraculous at the forefront after Jesus’ healed a Gentile mother’s demon possessed daughter. But this healing was also a compassionate beacon that shown the light on the fact that Jesus’ ministry was not going to be just for a few select, chosen folk. All were being drawn, as the Syrophoenician mother’s bold entrance into Jesus’ world proved.
But what I love about our study passage which includes Mark 7: 24-37, is that every place Jesus went when He was here on earth, He directed His attention to those who were hurting, many of them desperately.
As we are told in Mark 7: 31; as Jesus returned from Tyre, and went by Sidon toward the Sea of Galilee, in the region called Decapolis, “they” brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and could not speak. I love the way Mark states that “they” brought the man. Do you wonder who the “they” could be? Family members? Close friends? A childhood pal? Co-workers?
Whoever “they” were, praise God that they cared for this dear man enough that when the message got out that Jesus was in the neighborhood, they didn’t let grass grow under their feet. Instead, they said, “We’re off to see Jesus.” Don’t you want to be a friend or family member like the “they’s” in this story who brought the man to Jesus.
But there are many other interesting nuggets of information contained in this second story that like the acorns hidden for winter nourishment, I want to dig up today for our inspiration and encouragement. What I found is that these nuggets help us “Behold The Man” Jesus in a most wonderful light for what He did for the deaf man whose life we are studying today, a man who could not even speak, He will do for you and me, too.
Having studied a number of commentaries penned about this experience, I want to look closely at what I uncovered in Matthew Henry’s writings from many years ago and I’m calling these highlights – The Three Nuggets.
Nugget #1: Jesus understood the isolation the man may have felt. He took the deaf man away from the multitude so He could be with him personally. Many times, Jesus’ miracles were performed with a crowd around. But not in this case. Just think what it would be like if you couldn’t hear any thing at all and if you couldn’t speak a word. Then you watched as a crowd of people surrounded you. This may have seemed to be an overwhelming experience. Of all our senses, not being able to hear anything at all can be very isolating. I’ve had patients who were deaf tell me how very alone they felt. In his book, And He Had Compassion, William Barclay brings up the example of one of classical music’s greatest composers, Beethoven. In her book called Beethoven, author Marion M. Scott shares Beethoven’s frustration in his own words: ‘For a musician deafness was the tragedy of tragedies. My misfortune, he wrote, ‘is doubly painful because it must lead to my being misunderstood, for me there can be no recreation in the society of my fellows, refined intercourse, mutual exchange of thought, only just as little as the greatest needs command may I mix with society. I must live like an exile.’
From a spiritual and societal perspective, Pastor Amy Howe shares that, “being deaf in the first century was not merely about not hearing or speaking clearly. For many people physical impairment was viewed as the consequence of sin. People who suffered from blindness, deafness, or withered limbs had little or no status. They were often barred from the social and religious institutions of the day. In those days, people were afraid of physical differences and did not understand the biology of birth defects as we do today.” And so what did Jesus do for this deaf man, He took him aside and let him know that 100% of His attention was on him and his personal need. Don’t you love that about Jesus? He responds to each of us in a very personal way which meets our unique need to any specific moment in time!
Nugget # 2: Jesus understood the health remedies familiar to that culture and so He performed a miracle using “spittle” which was a common remedy at that time in history. I appreciate William Barclay’s insight for as he explains, “Jesus takes the ordinary means of healing known to men at that time, and charged them with a new power and effectiveness. It is as if Jesus is saying to us today: ‘Take such means of healing as you possess and use it along with the power that I can give and wonderful things will happen.’” When I was a young girl and I’d be visiting my grandparents, on many occasions my grandpa, who was a country doctor, would ask me if I’d like to go with him to the hospital to make rounds to see his patients. I’ll never forget one of the patients who grandpa had done surgery on tell me, “Little girl, do you know that before “Doc” (my grandpa’s nickname) gave me any anesthesia, your grandpa brought everyone around the surgery table and then he offered a prayer over me and asked God for help performing the surgery.” Then this dear man smiled and with tears in his eyes continued, “I knew right then I’d make a complete recovery for God’s hands were working on me.” This experience made a profound impact on my young life, and when I became a nurse, I loved to work what was called the “swing shift,” 3-11 P.M. I had a “Dorothy Routine” I called it at the time, when I was head nurse on a floor with many patients who were battling cancer. Before I went to give the report on the patients to the next shift, I’d go into every room, up and down the long hallway and check on each patient. If any patient seemed to be restless or anxious, before I left their room, I’d quietly ask, “Would you like me to pray for you tonight?” I never, ever had a patient say, “No!” In fact, some of the patients who never wanted a chaplain in their room, would let a young nurse ask God to be by their side and give them a good night’s sleep. We can, in times when we need medical care, do everything we can to find the best possible advances – but then we can be like Jesus and have His power flow through us to those who need His’ compassionate love, too.
Nugget #3: Jesus looked up to heaven for He never forgot that His earthly power came from His heavenly Source. As Matthew Henry so beautifully expresses, “Jesus gave His Father the praise, and did His will, and acted in dependence on Him and with His eyes on Him. Thus He signified that it was by a divine power, a power He had as the Lord from heaven, and brought with Him.” Whenever I’m working on our prayer requests here in Transformation Garden, I think about the words of the great Pastor R. A. Torrey which I penned in the front of my personal prayer book filled with so many names: “The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer.” As Jesus “sighed” out the words “Ephphatha’ or “Be opened,” Mark tells us that “immediately (the man’s) ears were opened, his tongue was released.” Glory be to God is all we can say. This is what happens when we give all the power and glory to our Father for the great things He has done.
I want to share the words of Professor Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm’s commentary on Mark’s entire passage covering the healing of the demon possessed young girl – a Gentile, and the deaf and speechless man – also a Gentile. Here’s how Professor Wilhelm sums up these two miraculous events: “Most of us are reluctant to share our faith with others and we find very good reasons to keep quiet: we may believe that our actions speak more loudly than our words, we may be afraid of the inadequacy of our speech, or we may fear that we will make a mistake and alienate those to whom we are speaking. Yet the healed man is every bit as insistent as the Syrophoenician woman. He and his companions give voice to Gods’ presence and power among them. The characters in both stories embolden us to share whatever glimpse of God’s mercy, love, and truth we have witnessed. Their stories and words remind us to focus our attention on God and to keep pointing others toward the reign of God (God’s kingdom!) by Jesus Christ!”
“There is no difference between the words and works of Jesus. The works have exactly the same message as the words. The message and words concentrate on the announcement of the Kingdom of God. The miracles and works show us what the kingdom is like.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Luke 4: 18-19
The Great Physician
“From Thee all skill and science flow,
All pity, care, and love,
All calm and courage, faith and hope;
O pour them from above.
And part them, Lord, to each and all,
As each and all shall need,
To rise like incense, each to Thee,
In noble thought and deed.
And hasten, Lord, that perfect day
When pain and death shall cease,
And Thy just rule shall fill the earth
With health and light and peace.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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