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. 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. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Mark 7, verses 32-35.
Jesus does this thing, these steps, then heals a deaf mute in Tyre. There are dozens of stories in the Bible about Jesus healing people. What’s so great about this one?
I submit there are two things about it that set it apart. Jesus looks up to heaven and then sighs deeply; that’s number one. And number two is that word: Ephphatha or, in the king’s English, ‘be opened.’ Amazing
You see, I seriously believe our sins grieve Jesus. Taking all our sins on your shoulders is tough; you and I can’t begin to fathom how tough it was (and is). That’s the rub of it: is. Our sins, today, here and now, must grieve Jesus. It wasn’t enough that He took on Himself all the trillions of sins of mankind up to that time. No, He took on Himself all the sins that were to come, of billions of people not yet come to Earth. Nobody at the time would understand what was happening and some would die in vain. Over the next few millennia, billions more would die because of sin, many never knowing Him. How could that not grieve Him?
What’s more, human suffering grieves Him. I think that’s why He looked up to heaven, where He knew the God of eternal love resides, and then looked back at his perfect creation, the deaf mute man, who was suffering from imperfection. We don’t know how the man came to be deaf and mute, only that he was. Jesus looked at him and loved him. He saw that the man – the creation who had been made in God’s own image – was suffering from a less than God-like condition. It must have grieved Him; it must have made Him deeply sad inside.
So He did something about it. He responded to the crowd by taking the man aside, doing this little ritual, and then uttering those amazing words, “be opened.” Do you grasp the deep beauty of what Jesus says here? “Be” is a condition and an action; it ‘is,’ which is a tense and verb in the same conjugation. To be and in being: they are words that describe something done to a person as well as the way they are. Have I lost you yet?
Then consider it this way: I understand it better if I remember that, in French, ‘to be’ is the verb ‘etre.’ You learn that in first year French. What I find amazing about it this is that part of conjugating ‘to be’ is ‘I am.’ Jesus is commanding I AM, God, Himself, to actively be with this man. When that happens, it opens him. Jesus opens his ears; He opens his mind; He opens his heart. An entire world is opened to the man because the Great I AM has done so for him.
And all that out of an ancient word of Aramaic (and French). There’s a lot that’s great about that.
Lord, You are the I AM. You are being, future, and all hope.
Read Mark 7, verses 31-37.