This Week's Gospel Sermons
October - December 2011 Fall Series At Jackson Drive.
"MIRACLES OF JESUS"
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September 25, 2011
Deaf in Decapolis
Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. (Mark 7:31-37).
Mark is the only gospel writer who recounts this specific occurrence during this period of Jesus’ ministry in and around Galilee. During this time, multitudes were continually following and surrounding Jesus. He knew His disciples needed some time in seclusion: “And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” (Mark 6:31). No matter where they went, people always gathered: “The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.” (Mark 6:33). They crossed over the Sea and still people “ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was.” (Mark 6:55). Jesus, once again traveled some distance. “Jesus got up and went away from there to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.” (Mark 7:24). Then, turning again in the opposite direction, He came from Tyre, across Galilee, into the region of Decapolis. Still, He was surrounded by crowds. There is something to think about in this circumstance—how sad it is that people today don’t seek Jesus with that fervor! Granted, some who were following were following for less than favorable motives, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if so many people today were seeking Jesus that His disciples spreading the word wouldn’t even have time to eat?
The name, Decapolis, means “ten cities.” This region where Jesus came, was an area of cities to whom the Romans had given special privileges around a century before. The cities were allowed to be somewhat autonomous or free. What a more excellent privilege they enjoyed in having Jesus in their presence! What supreme freedom was announced in the truth of Jesus!
This man of Decapolis, that Jesus separates from the crowd, could not hear. How isolated and alone he must have felt to be able to see the crowds around him, yet not knowing what was said. Neither could he be heard, at least in an understandable manner—his speech was impeded. How cut-off are men when there is no means of adequate communication! Isn’t this the picture of the sinner’s moral and spiritual condition, too? So many are deaf to what God has to say. “Oh that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways!” (Psalm 81:13). If man refuses to hear God, what is left? “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:1-4). Certainly, one who chooses sin also betrays an impediment in his speech as soon as spiritual truths are introduced.
Why was this man separated from the crowd by Jesus? Perhaps, because of the tumult of the crowds, Jesus wanted some privacy. It seems, that because of the compassion Jesus always felt for those seeking Him, that He came to the man as the man’s physical condition dictated. What an awakening of a confident hope and assured faith occurs as the man sees from his silence and solitude Jesus focused on him! For our own hearts the application is apparent. It is good for us to be alone in the divine presence, away from the busy hum and din of a noisy world which is never conducive to spiritual reflection. It is only in the hush of God’s presence that we come to understand fully our deep need of sovereign grace.
Jesus placed His fingers in the deaf ears. Jesus spit. Jesus touched the impeded tongue. Then, He looked to heaven—an upward look that was a sign of the location of His power to heal. In great compassion, Jesus sighed. Jesus cares. Finally, Jesus speaks, “Be opened.” A look to heaven, a sigh, a word, and the miracle is wrought. This was the work of divine power—immediately the man heard and spoke distinctly.
“His ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed.” The man heard and then he could speak clearly. This is the observable order of nature, but here, by divine power, the gap between hearing and speaking was bridged at once. In the spiritual realm it is the same. The ear must be opened to receive divine instruction before the tongue is able to clearly speak God’s praise. Our faith comes from what we hear: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17). “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” (2Corinthians 4:13-15). Receiving by way of the ear the Gospel of redeeming love and grace into the heart, we delight to speak of the marvels of divine grace to everyone we see.
Jesus ordered that the people “tell no man” of the wonder that was done. Jesus did not seek cheap popularity. He desires sincere hearts. The people present were overcome by honest enthusiasm. They couldn’t help but to “glorify the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:31). They realized that “He has done all things well.” Do we have that same honest enthusiasm? Do we glorify the God of Israel understanding that “He has done all things well”?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.