Mark 7:31–37 (ESV)
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. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”.
Have you ever tried to keep something a secret that was exceedingly good news? I’m thinking of those times when a friend tells you about something wonderful that has happened to them or is about to happen to them.
They might tell you that they are going to propose to their girlfriend, or that they’ve received a wonderful blessing in the form of an unexpected windfall, or perhaps a couple confides to you that they are pregnant but haven’t shared the good news with family just yet. They are so excited about this good news and simply must share it with someone, but they ask you to keep it a secret for the time being.
Secrets like that are so hard to keep and rarely do they stay a secret for too long as that kind of good news easily and eagerly leaks out to others.
That’s what I was thinking about as I read this passage. This passage is one of only three narrative accounts that is not repeated in the other three Gospels, it is unique to Mark’s Gospel alone. What’s also interesting about this passage is that it occurs in Gentile territory rather than in Jewish territory.
The passage is somewhat of a summary regarding what Jesus has been doing and is once again an answer to the question that the disciples pose back in Mark 4:41, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
We’re given a clue in verse 37 of our passage that is an echo of Isaiah 35:5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”
The prophecy from Isaiah is one of renewal for the nation of Israel after their long years of exile. Here in this passage, we’re getting the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy in Jesus as He is bringing renewal not only to the Jewish people but also to the Gentiles and once again we get the message that the kingdom of God is for all who will simply come.
One other interesting note is Mark’s comment in verse 35 that the tong of the man with the speech impediment was “released.” Jim Edwards in his commentary on Mark’s Gospel notes that the Greek word for “released” is more specific in definition. The Greek word for “released” means that, “the chain of his tongue was broken” and we’re told that he is able to speak plainly.
The man who was deaf and had a speech impediment was set free and spoke freely.
What about you? Is there some area of your life where you need Jesus to set you free? Perhaps it’s an old bitterness that binds you or a bad attitude or old habit that holds you and keeps you from living for and speaking freely about Jesus.
Entrust it to Jesus. He already knows about it and longs to set you free.
And then, don’t even try to keep it a secret. Share that exceedingly good news with others who are desperate to be set free.
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers!