What Does Jesus Do? He Personally Cares For Each of His Children
Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man
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.[a] 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."
If you had to lose one of your 5 senses, which one would you choose to live without? Sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. My wife and I discussed it, and I think we both settled on taste. It would certainly be devastating, especially for a couple of foodies…. But I think living without a sense of taste would be a little easier to manage than losing some of the other senses. It’s not impossible to live without the other senses… there are people who do it. But I do think it would be easiest to live without taste. And maybe I’m wrong on that, but after knowing what life with sight is like, I think it would be hard to part with sight. And I think to live without touch would be quite dangerous. To live without hearing, I feel like that would be difficult to adjust to. It would be lonely... Hearing is our gateway to relationships and entertainment. And then smell… you could maybe live without smell pretty easily… but if you were to say smell, then you’d lose your sense of taste as well… so I figured it’s better to cheat the system and say I’d rather lose my sense of taste and then keep my sense of smell. I’m not 100% sure it works that way, but no matter.
But above them all I think hearing would be one of the more difficult ones to lose. Helen Keller said this, "Blindness cuts us off from things, but deafness cuts us off from people." Sight and hearing are quite valuable to us. Of the 5 senses, we spend a lot of money, energy, and research on making sure that those 2 remain useable: sight and hearing. We use glasses, contacts and laser vision to preserve our sight. And we use things like hearing aids to preserve our hearing. And losing sight and hearing gradually as we age is different than what seems to have been the case with the man in the gospel for today. We’re told this man was deaf and could hardly talk. It doesn’t expressly state it, but it seems like this was something this man has been dealing with since birth.
Jesus takes this man aside and heals him. In just a second we’re going to get to the details of how Jesus healed him. But first, let’s make sure we don’t let the day and age we live in undercut Jesus’ miracle. We live in the most medically and scientifically advanced day and age ever. Between the surgeries and devices we have in our day and age, we are able to slow or better a number of medical problems. Here Jesus wasn’t using science or a medical practice that was way ahead of his time. Jesus, the one who was there at the creation of the universe, and has power over the wind and the waves, truly healed this man with a touch and a word. And I know we know that… but it’s good to remind ourselves of it because of the medically advanced age we live in. Some of the things we do with technology in today’s world almost seem miraculous. The miracles Jesus did, truly are miracles. The miracles Jesus did were an exercising of his power as God.
All of Jesus miracles were unique. But the way he goes about performing this miracle is quite unique, especially if you consider all of the details surrounding this miracle. So these people brought this man to Jesus and asked him to lay hands on him. And so many times we do have an example of Jesus healing by laying on hands or with a simple touch… but here he does things a little differently. Jesus individualizes this miracle for this man. You might say he personalizes it for him.
Let’s think about the details of it now. I want you to imagine for a moment that you are deaf, and that you cannot speak hardly at all—like this man. My guess is if you were deaf and could not speak, being in a crowd of people would be one of your least favorite places to be. A lot of the cues we pick up when we communicate with others require hearing. You can generally tell if someone is happy or upset by looking at their face. But it’s important to hear tone of voice as well. It was probably difficult in and of itself for this man to communicate with a single person, but imagine how it would feel to be in a crowd. He would have been unable to communicate with those around him. He could easily have gotten lost. If he had gotten separated from his friends, he wouldn’t even be able to hear them when they called out to him. I would imagine being in a crowd was a stressful situation for this man. So we see the personal nature of this miracle before Jesus even heals him. What does Jesus do?
Verse 33, "He takes him aside, away from the crowd." Being in that crowd, I would imagine this man was struggling to interpret all the stimulus what was coming to him. But then Jesus takes him aside, away from the crowd. I bet that man didn’t have trouble interpreting what was going on. The man that the crowds had been paying attention to had taken him aside. Now it was just him and Jesus. It was clear that Jesus was giving this man his full attention.
In so many of his miracles, Jesus speaks with those he is healing. He addresses them or says something them to test them. But Jesus knows it’s different with this man… we see the personal nature of the miracle once again as Jesus touches the man’s ears. Then he touches the man’s tongue… the two defective senses of this man. I can only imagine the man was watching Jesus intently…his every action and movement—reading his non-verbal signs. My guess is he had an idea of what might be happening.
Then Jesus looks to heaven and in a very non-wordy way (once again personalized right? No words needed for this man who can’t hear)… he just says "Ephphatha!"
Do you ever forget that your Savior is a Savior who cares about you personally? I know I do. I’m going to list 3 different reasons we forget that Jesus treats us in the same personal manner that he treated that man who couldn’t hear or speak.
Firstly, we fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus isn’t concerned with the day to day in our lives. How often don’t we fail to bring the concerns of our daily lives to him? Jesus cares when you had a tough day at work. He cares when the family pet is not doing well. He cares when there is friction in your relationship with someone else. He cares about your money troubles… He cares about all the day to day, and he wants us to bring it to him in prayer. There is nothing that he considers too trivial. He is a Savior who cares about you personally.
Secondly, we fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus doesn’t care about us personally when he doesn’t do what we perceive to be the best thing… or when he does not answer our prayers in the way we were hoping he would answer them. Maybe you have something you’ve been praying about for a long time—maybe it’s not even a recurring prayer for yourself… maybe it’s for someone else. You pray and pray and pray for this one thing—for that other person yet it seems like God never hears and never answers in the way that you hope he would. Or maybe you’ve even answer and bring about an outcome that you might consider to be the exact opposite of what you were hoping for. It can be especially hard for us to remember that our Savior is a Savior who cares about us personally when we’re experiencing something like that.
And finally, the third thing that can cause us to forget that Jesus cares for us personally….trials. And boy, I think trials are probably the toughest one on this list. When we face trials, we so easily become wrapped up in fixated on the pain and the dull outlook of the situation that Jesus’ personal love and care for us can start to take a backseat before we even realize it. When we face trial, we can’t help but wish Jesus would take us aside from the crowd and metaphorically speaking touch our ears and tongue… touch the thing or situation in our life that is causing pain and problems and just fix it. Sometimes we wait and wait and wait and pray and pray and pray any yet we still don’t get to see it. We don’t see him bring about the resolution we were hoping for.
I’m sorry to inform you, that I don’t have any kind of magic silver bullet for you today to help you remember, regardless of circumstance, that your Savior cares for you personally. But we do have a couple things we can talk about that will help us to keep that perspective a little better.
Firstly, If your Savior cared enough about you to take care of the BIG problem, you can be sure he’s also aware of the "not quite so big problems." What are we talking about here? Well the BIG problem was sin. Because of our sin, we deserved death… both physical and eternal death. Each of us deserved death… each person on earth as we are all born sinful. That was the BIG problem. But Jesus took care of that BIG problem on the cross, where he took your sin—each and every one of them—and paid for them through his death and resurrection. Talk about a personal miracle. Jesus paid for each of your sins. In love, Jesus gave up his life and took care of that BIG problem and if he was willing to give up his life for you, it’s silly to think that he would suddenly stop caring about us.
Secondly, as frustrating as it can be…. We have to remember, and ask God for the strength to, in faith, accept the fact that we don’t get to see the big picture. Not seeing the big picture can be tough. We’re typically on this earth anywhere from 60-90 years. And I think most of us would admit that indeed, those 60-90 years go by pretty fast. But if you were to place those 60-90 years on God’s timeline, you’d hardly be able to see them. They’re just a blip on his timeline. He can see the whole thing from beginning to end and he is weaving it all together for the good of his children….but we don’t get that privilege. But we do get to rest assured That he is working out that whole timeline for the good of his children, so that each of them might end up by his side for eternity.
Jesus attends to each of us personally. Sometimes that can be hard to see in the moment. And sometimes his personal care doesn’t look the way we hoped it would. But we can trust that he is caring for us personally, and working things out for the best of his children.
Today we’ll close with an illustration of that. There was a man who had a wife and two children. One of his children was about 12 and the other was about 5 when he found out he had cancer. You can bet that family prayed for healing and prayed for the best case scenario. But the cancer was terminal and the man passed away after a difficult 5 year battle. If you had asked that family, as they were going through that, if they could tell that their Savior was caring for them personally, I would guess there would by many days they would have said no. But their Savior was caring for them personally, even if they couldn’t see it—even if he wasn’t touching their ears and tongue. And God had the big picture in mind, and was orchestrating all of it for their good—even though it didn’t feel like it at times. And as all of that story unfolded, God actually had you in mind as well and he knew well in advance that he would be weaving you into this story… If that man, my father, hadn’t died of cancer, I wouldn’t be standing in front of you as your pastor today.
What did Jesus do? What does he still do? He cares for each of his children individually and personally. We don’t always get to see him placing his fingers in our ears—we don’t always get to see him touch our tongue. But in faith we know and trust that what he says is indeed true. He cares for each of his Children. Amen?