Miracles · Supernatural

Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus #23 – Jesus Heals a Deaf and Dumb Man

After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.

I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Dumb Man

Mark 7:31-37

Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

General Observations

If I’m looking at a map of Tyre and Sidon, and Jesus’ eventual destination in this passage, that is the Sea of Galilee, it appears the route is unnecessarily long. And why head north, when the Sea of Galilee is southeast of Tyre?

Is Mark implying that Jesus had a specific purpose in the area of Sidon that He doesn’t refer to. This is definitely a possibility for the Lord performed so many miracles and taught so many folks, that this may be a location that has simply not been recorded for our instruction. After all, as John tells us…

… there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

An alternative reason He went through Sidon to eventually go southeast may have been simply an opportunity for Jesus and His disciples to finally get an extended time of quietness. Much had occurred in the recent weeks and the Lord had mentioned a number of times that they as a group needed to regroup and find some solitude. (See Mark 6:31, Mark 7:24 for examples)

Questions to Consider

Who were the audience?

The only ones present, per the text, was the Master, those who brought the deaf man, and a crowd. Yes even in the Decapolis, where He had been banished from due to the swine incident, He had accumulated a gathering, a crowd of those who followed Him as He was on His way.

The deaf man brought to the Messiah had a speech impediment of some kind, implying at the least that he had been deaf his entire life and his speech reflected this condition. Could the man communicate at all? Was it that he could not make a sound, or that in making the sound, no one could easily understand? Given that the ones who brought the deaf man begged Jesus to lay His hands on the deaf man, I am leaning to understand the man couldn’t communicate clearly.

As a matter of fact, the last verse mentions that those who were astonished at this miracle proclaim that He (Jesus) makes even the deaf hear and the mute to speak! Was this specific to this miracle? Possibly, or the fame of the Master simply preceded Him!

When did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See https://www.bibletimelines.net/timelines/jesus-ministry

Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?

See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.

It is interesting that Mark mentions they were in the region of the Decapolis, a region that encompassed ten cities, (hence the name Deca – polis.) To be in the Decapolis was to be in a Gentile majority population, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Decapolis was in the region belonging to the half tribe of Manasseh, so technically they were still in the promised land, but the Jewish influence was minimal, and the Gentile population looked down upon the Jewish way of life.

It isn’t the first time the group was in the region, for Jesus was in the area when He healed the demon possessed man and sent the swine swimming. At that time, He had been booted out of the area by the locals. Seems it didn’t stick!

Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?

Since the Lord charged the deaf man and all who witnessed the miracle to tell no one, it seems obvious that the mighty sign was not provided in order to get the news out of the Messiah having come. Jesus wanted this one to be a miracle that was without outward purpose, one that was a response only to the recipient, and his friends. This intended purpose was frustrated, as it seems the group began to speak of the miracle after being charged not to by the One who provided the miracle. Even after numerous times of being charged by Jesus to stay quiet, they continued to proclaim the miracle.

It appears the Lord’s will was frustrated by a group of “thankful” witnesses! He gave hearing and speech to the deaf man, and it is safe to assume He could take it away. Yet, He sought their obedience to refrain from speaking of the miracle, and in their disobedience of preaching, brought about an even greater group of those who followed Him.

But was this a positive outcome?

Of course every one of this increasing group may be following after Jesus for the right reason, but there is going to be a winnowing of the group soon. Those who were following simply for the “eye candy” of miracles, (or in this instance “ear” candy?) or for the food that may be provided would be given teaching that would cause a falling away. This may have been a reason the Lord charged them to remain quiet, for the group needed to be reduced, not enlarged, for it to be effective for His purposes.

High numbers of adherents do not equal great strength in this instance!

What was the message for the original audience?

The Word states that He took the deaf man aside from the crowd, seemingly continuing with the theme of keeping this particular miracle an isolated, non spreading work of God. Being pulled aside from the crowd, Jesus touched both this mans ears and his tongue, those members of his body that were dead or crippled, and He provided life to them through a simple command.

The message of the miracle was two fold.

Open Up

First, to the one receiving the miracle, the message was of healing. For his ears and tongue to be opened. Open up. Be opened thoroughly.

Shut Up

Given that the original audience had been reduced to a few for the sake of witnessing the miracle, the second message is also clearly evident.

Shut up! Do not tell anyone. Do not mention it, do not proclaim it, do not say anything about it, do not declare it! Just walk away, take the miracle and just SHUT UP!

Just think of the first thing this deaf man heard. Tell no one. He had just received the gift of communication, and was immediately restricted from using the gift. Yet does not the One who provides for us all good gifts, have the right to tell us to self restrict the gifts He provides?

What is the message for us today?

In our daily lives, it seems clear that to provide the message of God’s self sacrificing love is a message that is to have no restrictions. Preach it far and wide!

And yet in the providence of God’s timing, my wife and I were just in the Gospel of Matthew, where the Lord speaks thus.

Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

As we chatted about this verse it seemed that Jesus was giving His church a restriction in order to provide a safeguard for themselves. The issue my wife and I still are unsure of, is the nature or identification of who the pigs and dogs are in our lives.

What characteristics would specifically identify these two groups for us, in order to give us guidance in not throwing our pearls before them? I find it coincidental at the very least that Peter uses the same two animals (dogs and swine) in a verse describing a particular group of people he also warns the church of.

2 Peter 2:22

What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

Jesus was not the only One who spoke hard or difficult sayings. Peter, like his Master, brought up a very uncomfortable topic by referring to both dogs and pigs. So does Peter give us some guidance on who dogs and pigs are when they are referred to in the Word. The verse immediately proceeding 2:22 gives us plenty to consider!

2 Peter 2:21

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Peter begins this lengthy passage in chapter 2 with the topic of false prophets/teachers, and describes them as irrational animals in verse 12 (as the proverb Peter refers to also describes them). These teachers knew the truth but had abandoned it!

He provides examples of false teachers bringing in destructive heresies (vs 1), forsaking the right way (vs 15), being entangled and overcome by defilement (vs 20) and finally as those turning back from the way of righteousness (vs 21). Peter summarizes his warning of false teachers in the last few verses of the chapter, in the specific verse we are considering.

So where is the false teacher in your circle of experience? Peter said they would enter in and be among us.

Please don’t consider this an encouragement to start heresy hunting! The issue in my mind is that hunting for false teachers is an exercise in futility somewhat. If we know the Word, (or better yet, if we are increasing in the knowledge of the Savior), the teaching these heretics provide will stick out like a sore thumb.

Also, my estimation of a false teacher may be different than yours, not because we do not have an absolute standard to judge by, but due to our growing but limited ability to understand the standard to be judged by. The standard I refer to is the Spirit provided Word of God of course.

When I first became a believer, I considered every teacher not adhering to my narrow understanding of the denominational teaching I was a part of to be somewhat heretical. This is to my shame, since I elevated a denomination over the Word itself. The denomination is not perfect in their understanding, as I surely am not.

So where does this lead me? A sense of humility and a guarded stance to those I understand, at this time, to be false teachers. How shall I respond to this miracle, and the command to SHUT UP in my situation? Provide nothing holy to false teachers. No effort of correcting them, no time spent watching them, and definitely not supporting them with prayers or financial gifts. They are the enemy in the camp!

Instead seek the Lord in the Word and through prayer. Continue to compare teachers in your circle with the message of the Word. Charlatans, seeking a following by tickling your ears are actually exploiting you, treating you like a commodity, and eventually will abandon you in your hour of need, as the Lord described the hired hand in John 10:12.

Follow after the Messiah, and if He tells you to shut up, SHUT UP!

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion. If you know someone this blog may bless (or challenge), send them a link, so they may join us in our discussion

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