New Testament passage for Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Mark 7:24-8:10
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 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. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. Mark 7:31-33 (ESV)
An Unusual Path
God always does things in unusual ways. Figure out the way you would do it. Then turn it over to God. He ALWAYS does it in His own unique and unpredictable way!
This is vividly illustrated throughout Mark's Gospel. Mark 7:31 says Jesus left Tyre and traveled to the Sea of Galilee by way of Sidon and the Decapolis. That doesn't make sense. In fact, some Bible scholars have questioned this passage because of it. One writer even said, "That's like wanting to go from St. Louis to New York City via Montreal then New Orleans." Sounds like some of the flight schedules you will get today -- go east to travel west.
It took a long time to walk this circuitous route -- perhaps several months. It was during these days that Jesus taught His disciples as they trudged along. Even though the path didn't make sense, God was using that time for valuable preparation. This was discipleship. He does that with us, too.
A Unique Healing
Once at the Sea of Galilee, we find another befuddling example of how Jesus works. A deaf-mute was brought to Him. No doubt these two maladies went together. Because the man couldn't hear, he was unable to formulate speech. The beauty of Jesus shines in the way He ministered to this man. He offered no stock prayers. No quick running through the prayer line. Here's what He did. Mark 7:31 tells us...
1. He took the man aside.
This speaks of INDIVIDUAL CARE. This poor man may have been embarrassed and crowd-conscious. Jesus, in essence, said to him, "Let's get alone for a minute." Jesus wanted the man to know that He cared for him as a person; not just because everyone expected Him to.
2. He put His fingers in his ears.
Hearing was the basic problem. Jesus touched the man at the deepest point of his need. This represents INCARNATION. Jesus does not heal from a distance. He comes to the very place of defeat, disease, and distress. "The Word became flesh" (John 1:14).
3. He spit and touched the man's tongue.
This is certainly an unusual way of ministering. Most interpreters agree that Jesus spat on his own hands and then with his finger touched the tongue of the man with some of His spit. What in the world does this mean? Of course, this should not be a formula we use in our altar ministry. "I went to church, asked for prayer, and they spat on me!" No.
Jesus took that which was in His own mouth and put into the mouth of this mute man. Jesus gave of Himself. This is IMPARTATION. I am reminded of another stutterer in the Bible -- Moses. He told God, "I can't talk. I get tongue-tied. I'm slow of speech." (Ex. 4:10) God sternly replied, "I made your mouth, and I can mute people speak and blind people see." He did that with this man.
Like He did with Jeremiah, God put His words into this poor man's mouth.
An Astonishing Result
It is downright amazing the way Jesus works. It seems each circumstance brings a different pattern. In Mark 8, we find Jesus spitting in a man's eyes! Another time, just speaks a word.
Walking with Jesus is not following a rule book. There is no Manual of Practices and Procedure. He may lead you through your own Sidon and Decapolis, but He always gets you to the destination on time. He may minister to you in unusual ways, like using spit or poking you in the ear. But the end result is described in Mark 7:31.
The people were "astonished beyond measure, saying, 'He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.'"