Jesus travelled to the Decapolis region, which was made up of ten towns between Damascus and the Arabian Desert. He did not go into any of the towns, but instead sat on a mount that overlooked the area. “And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there” (Matthew 15:29). It was here that a wonderful miracle took place.
The matter of the miracle
“And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him” (Mark 7:31-32)
The inhabitants of Decapolis flock out to meet Jesus. This is remarkable because they must have had a change of heart due to the testimony of the man who had been delivered from the legion of devils (see Mark 5:1-20). “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:20. The One they had rejected was now received with open arms, “And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts” (Mark 5:17). Since they saw what He could do with the demoniac, they believed that Jesus would have no trouble with a deaf mute. This miracle would be further proof that He was God. “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11).
Though this was a mighty miracle, it is not the greatest of all, for a mightier miracle takes place in the soul of a repentant sinner. The Lord can set free the spiritually deaf and dumb by causing him to hear His voice and putting a new song in his heart. “But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth” … “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD” (Psalm 38:13, 40:3). He can take the hardest and vilest sinner and transform him into a saint that testifies of God’s grace. He who healed the deaf mute can still cure impossible cases and bring souls to salvation.
The method of the miracle
“And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain” (Mark 7:33-35).
Jesus used unusual means to perform this miracle, but we note that He did not make a sideshow of the event in the way that so many of today’s religious actors do. We cannot be sure why Jesus used this method to heal the man, but we can see something of His creative power at work. At the commanding word “Ephaphatha” (be loosed), the man was made completely and immediately whole. The method might be mysterious, but the result was the same as on all other occasions; the man was healed by the word and touch of Jesus.
Apart from the obvious, this miracle teaches that the Lord cannot be boxed-in by religious methods and rituals. He is not tied down to a particular way of bringing the lost to saving grace. Sometimes God works outside of our expectations or what we consider to be the norm. Many in the Islamic world are coming to Christ after meeting Him in dreams. Who is to say that He cannot do this to get a Muslim’s attention? If people will not listen to the preaching of the Word, then God might awaken them through unusual events, sickness and affliction. Whatever means God uses to bring the sinner to the cross, the outcome is always the same, salvation through the blood of Christ. Who are we to counsel God anyway? “Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness” (Job 33:13-26).
The marvel of the miracle
“And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mark 7:36-37).
Not only did Jesus heal the deaf mute, but He also opened the eyes of those who witnessed the miracle. Those who had previously rejected Him now praised Him for doing all things well. The miracle brought them to a closer understanding of who He was. “Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matthew 15:31) … “This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
Are we thankful for what the Lord has done for us? He has delivered us from spiritual blindness, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We might not know what the days ahead have for us, but we can be assured that Christ is with us each step of the way. Our Good Shepherd never makes a mistake and leads us to good pasture, “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers … I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:2-5, 9). One day we will hear those word, “Well done” from the mouth of the King (Matthew 25:21), and we with praise and thanksgiving will reply, “Lord, You have done all things well.”
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). The more we fellowship with Christ, the greater will be our understanding of Him. Those who grow in Him have their ears opened to hear His voice, “The sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (John 10:4); their mouths opened to sing His praise, “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall show forth thy praise” (Psalm 51:15); and their eyes opened to see wonderful things in His word, “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). With the Psalmist we can say, “O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory” (Psalm 98:1).