When Jesus healed a man who was deaf, the people said, “Everything he does is wonderful!” It’s easy to say that when God does what we want – but what about the rest of the time?
Job, chapter 22; Mark, chapters 7-8
Mark 7:31-37 (NLT):
Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.
Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!
Jesus told the crowd not to tell anyone, but the more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. They were completely amazed and said again and again, “Everything he does is wonderful. He even makes the deaf to hear and gives speech to those who cannot speak.”
Jesus the Healer
In this part of Mark’s gospel, Jesus is traveling outside Jerusalem and Judea. Earlier in chapter 7, some Pharisees had come from Jerusalem to see and hear him (Mark 7:1). After that encounter, he left Galilee and went to Tyre and Sidon – Gentile territory, and areas which historically were not historically receptive to Jewish faith. While in Tyre, he delivered the daughter of a Gentile woman from an evil spirit (see 7:24-30). Even though he had initially been hesitant to do it, he was motivated by her faith and he granted her request.
Our passage starts with the note that Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. We’re not sure exactly where the next healing takes place; was it in Sidon, on the way to the Decapolis (the Ten Towns), or after he arrived? We don’t know. What we do know is that a crowd of people met Jesus and brought a man to him. He was deaf and had a speech impediment, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.
As Jesus frequently did, he led him away from the crowd before he healed him. Once they were alone, Jesus healed the man. I don’t think the mechanics of the healing are important; Jesus wasn’t giving us a step-by-step manual for healing deaf people. I believe he took the man away from the crowd – as he did later in today’s reading with a blind man – because he wasn’t trying to feed the public hubbub over his ministry.
“Everything He Does Is Wonderful”
So Jesus healed the man, and then he told the crowd not to tell anyone. Of course, they ignored that request. Jesus had healed the man they brought to him, and they told everyone. The more he told them not to, the more they spread the news. Why wouldn’t they? It was good news! People were starting to believe that Jesus was someone special (see Mark 8:27-30). The disciples were aware of it, and they were coming to the conclusion that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus wasn’t ready for the public to come to that conclusion – not because it was wrong, but because they would misunderstand what it meant.
But in today’s passage, the phrase that caught my attention was the crowd’s assessment: “Everything he does is wonderful.” They were focused on things like healing, and feeding the multitude. As long as he did things they liked, he was wonderful. But when he started stepping on toes with his teaching – well, he knew what the response would be to that. Later in today’s reading, he starts to tell the disciples that he would be rejected and killed (see Mark 8:31).
Application: “Everything He Does Is Wonderful”
As I said earlier, the crowds thought Jesus was wonderful when he did what they wanted. But as we saw in yesterday’s post (“Go Away and Leave Us Alone”), even his miracles could make people uncomfortable and afraid. What’s the difference in these two stories? In today’s passage, Jesus performed a healing that the people wanted to see. Yesterday, he cast out demons in a way that had a negative impact on them, and they didn’t like it.
I believe God is reminding us that it’s not enough for us to applaud the things we like. It’s easy to praise God and thank him when he does what we ask him to do. That’s not faith; that’s gratitude. Faith praises God even when we don’t understand – even when we don’t particularly enjoy what happens. Faith enables us to day, “Everything he does is wonderful” – not because we “feel” it, but because we trust him.
Father, we thank you because everything you do is wonderful. We pray that in faith, because we confess that we don’t always feel that everything is wonderful. But we trust you, because you do all things well. You are at work for our good in all things (Romans 8:28).
Help us today to recognize the wonderful things that you are doing, and to praise you for them. Thank you for your grace, and the life that we have in Jesus. Amen.