After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put 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.
There are times in life that we all like to be surrounded by a crowd. We like the exciting energy of friendly faces. It lifts our spirits, makes the load lighter.
And then there are those moments when we just want to be alone. We need to be alone. Where people are a distraction away from what seems important at the moment.
Jesus found himself at just one of those times with this guy who couldn’t hear at all, nor could he speak very well. The solution wasn’t to heal him right there in front of the “some people” that brought him to Jesus.
That would have been my move. They bring him to me, they at least should get a front row seat to the miracle. After all, didn’t they deserve that? Didn’t they earn the right to see God work?
But, as so often is the case, Jesus had a different plan. A better plan. A more personal plan. He takes the guy away from the crowd so they can be alone together. Where Jesus can give him all his attention.
Once alone, Jesus does some very unusual things with his hands. He puts his fingers into the guy’s ears, spits, and then touches his tongue. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I would want to do is to put my fingers into this guy’s ears and touch his tongue.
After all this, Jesus looks up and sighs. It might have been like one of our sighs, or it might have been a groan. Whatever it was, it was a visible sign of the weight that Jesus and his healing work had on him. There was a cost to Jesus for being with all these people. It was physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining to be about his Father’s business.
I have nothing to compare this with in my own life. But when I preached in back-to-back worship services, I was really tired. The prep work, the prayer, the preaching, the time with people afterwards. And then to do it all over again. By the time I got home and ate a little bit of lunch, I sat down and dozed off in my recliner. And this was almost nothing in comparison to what Jesus endured.
I shake my head in wonder and amazement at what Jesus went through in his life. His work, his ministry, his teaching, his healing, his discipling. I get exhausted just thinking about it. So, it’s no wonder that Jesus pulls this guy aside.
And when Jesus does speak to heal him, he releases him. His ears are opened, and his tongue now worked perfectly. What once had been closed was now open. What once had been tied was now untied. He could talk just like anyone else. He could be clearly understood.
When Jesus heals, he heals all the way. No stop-gap measures. No temporary patches. This guy can now hear and speak with clarity.
Can you imagine the thrill and excitement for this guy? Gone is the exasperation in not understanding people. Gone is the double frustration in not being able to speak so people understood.
Now Jesus probably hasn’t opened your ears so you can now hear. He probably hasn’t healed your speech so you can speak clearly again. But I bet there are things in your life where Jesus has done just as a significant work.
Think about who you were when you came to Christ. What your life was like. All the guilt. All the shame. All the frustration and agony about this life and the life to come. And now, life may not be perfect, but there is some peace about the things that frustrate you.
There has been some healing in your life. No, not everything is perfect. You may have a life-threatening diagnosis hanging over your head. You may have incredible pressures on you. But Jesus is with you. He can and will support you, even in your deepest pit. In your darkest hour.
Arthur Luther desperately wanted to be a foreign missionary. But his life’s wish was never fulfilled. Instead, he was serving with an evangelism team in Kentucky when his son back home was taken ill. He was 600 miles from home and there was nothing he could do. There was no way for him to get there, to comfort and pray for his dear child. He sat down at a piano where a simple melody easily came. Equally straightforward words also came, and a timeless hymn was born.
In life's dark and bitter hour
love will still prevail,
Trust His everlasting pow'r
Jesus never fails.
Jesus never fails,
Heav'n and earth may pass away,
but Jesus never fails.
It’s as true when Jesus healed this guy. Or when Arthur wrote the words. Or as you read them now. Jesus never fails