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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

Flashback Episode — Looking for Faith: Mark 7:31-37

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Flashback Episode: Year in Mark – Episode 19: When a disabled man is brought to Jesus, discover why Jesus might have taken the man away from the crowd to heal him, and why this is important for us living over 2,000 years later.

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Read the transcript:

As we continue our journey through Mark’s gospel, we come to a miracle that only Mark includes in his gospel. For one reason or another, Matthew, Luke, and John don’t include this miracle, but when we look a little closer at what happened, we discover some fascinating details within this event.

With that said, let’s dive into the passage and discover what we can learn. Our event and passage for this episode is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will be reading from the New International Version. Starting in verse 31, Mark tells us:

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 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. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Within this miracle and event, I find it fascinating that Jesus takes this man aside, and away from the crowd. On the surface, this detail and decision doesn’t seem that practical or very relevant. After all, who cared if Jesus healed the man with a crowd around or not. What mattered more than anything else is that Jesus could and did heal people like this man.

However, if we write Jesus’ actions off as being unnecessary, especially since the crowd does learn of this healing at the end of the passage, then we will likely miss some key details that lead us to the most likely reason in my mind for Jesus to take this man away from the crowd.

Actually, there are two reasons that I can think of for pulling the man away from the crowd.

The first reason is that nothing in this passage suggests that this man came on his own. Instead, the opposite is described. The passage opens very clearly saying that a group of people brought this man to Jesus. While this man likely had trouble communicating from his set of disabilities, the impression I see when reading this is that this group of people wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle even more than this man wanted to be healed.

Don’t misunderstand this idea. I believe this man did want to be healed, and he likely wanted to be healed really badly, but everything in how Mark describes this event when setting the stage for it focuses us on the detail that other people initiated this event rather than the disabled man himself. Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the group of people who brought this man to Jesus were more interested in seeing a miracle than on seeing this particular individual be healed.

When this group found Jesus, Jesus ultimately has a dilemma. Jesus sees the disabled man and He wants to help this man be restored. However, Jesus also knows that a simple healing miracle will satisfy selfish-desires on the part of the crowd, and this miracle could be held up as an example of Jesus seeking His own glory for this healing.

The path Jesus takes is a brilliant one. Instead of healing this man directly, with the crowd present, which would have been the simplest and easiest option, Jesus decides to help this man, but do it away from those who are selfishly wanting to see a miracle. This decision results in the man being healed and shown God’s love while those who brought the man to Jesus only get the satisfaction of knowing they helped the man receive Jesus’ help.

I believe this group of people wanted to glorify Jesus apart from glorifying God, and Jesus wanted to avoid this as much as He could. This may be one reason He repeatedly asked certain people to stay quiet after healing them. If Jesus knew that people would spread the word about what He had done, He didn’t want this to happen if God wasn’t going to receive the glory.

Instead, Jesus wanted God to receive the glory for this miracle, and even while He tried to help those present see and understand this was God working through Him, those in the crowd don’t seem to give God the credit that God is due for this miracle. Those in the group who brought this man to Jesus appear to be more focused on what Jesus, as a human individual, was accomplishing.

The other big reason I see in this passage for Jesus to pull the man aside and away from the crowd is to highlight the presence or lack of presence with regards to faith. When we look at this miracle, can we see faith displayed?

On the surface, I don’t see any faith clearly being displayed. However, just below the surface, there are plenty of examples of faith. First, we have the group of people bringing the man to Jesus. While they don’t appear to be interested in giving God the glory for this miracle, they easily have faith that Jesus can heal this person, otherwise they wouldn’t have brought this man to Jesus. Even with selfish-motives, those who brought this man to Jesus display faith that Jesus could heal this man’s deafness and muteness.

Another place faith is subtly displayed in this passage is with this man who was healed. While this passage doesn’t draw our attention onto his faith, there would have needed to be enough faith in this man’s life to at the very least not say no to the group’s offer to take him to Jesus. The implication in this passage is that this man had a tiny bit of faith, but not enough that prompted him to seek out Jesus earlier or on his own.

A third place faith is seen in this passage is with Jesus. Jesus did not hesitate when stepping in to heal this man. Jesus did not timidly comment to try to heal this man while also giving no guarantee that He would be successful. Instead, Jesus pulls the man aside with full confidence that with God’s help, this man would be made well – which tells us that Jesus had faith too.

This passage demonstrates faith on several levels. While the passage doesn’t say whether or not Jesus left both the crowd and His disciples to be alone with this man, or whether Jesus and His disciples together separated this man from those who brought him, we can assume that whichever way this was, the faith that was present in this event was not exclusive to the one being healed.

Part of me pictures Jesus and the man stepping away from the crowd and around the corner where they could be alone. Jesus perhaps shared the details of this event with one or two of His disciples following this event.

If this is what happened, it would mean that Jesus used His own faith to demonstrate God’s love for this man, and when we lean on Jesus’ faith, we see not just one disability being healed at once, but two. In one event, the man could both hear again and talk again easily.

In our own lives, when we lean on Jesus’ faith, we discover that we will have more than enough faith to experience and see miracles in our own lives, and we will also fully know that through Jesus, His faith, and His sacrifice on the cross, we have been saved for eternity! Our faith is limited; Jesus’ faith is limitless!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first and place Him first in your life. Also, be sure to always give God the glory and the credit He is due. In case you are uncertain, we give God the credit when we do well, and we take the blame onto ourselves when things go poorly. This is how we are called to be humble, and it helps remind us that we need God’s help and Jesus’ life to replace our own.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each day. God wants a personal relationship with you, and the only way your relationship with Him can be personal is if you are personally spending time with Him. Don’t fall into the temptation of letting your spirituality be dependent on anyone else. God loves you and I so much that Jesus came to repair what sin broke, and this repair allows us to approach God with our requests, our thanks, and our praises. God loves us so much that nothing would stop Him from repairing the gap that sin caused.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or be tempted into leaving where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

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