Again, Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre, and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to Him one who was deaf and could hardly speak and they begged Him to lay His hand on the man. 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.
Has not God chosen those who are poor? This is a very interesting, and perhaps, even convicting question. James 2:5 says, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” I think there are several ways a person can be poor in the eyes of the world. Some may be poor monetarily. Some intellectually. And others, physically. The world tends to look down on those with less, however that is measured, because mankind tends to look at the outward condition of a person. Scripture informs us that God looks at the inward condition of one’s heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Our Scripture for today provides one of the most amazing miracles to me in the Bible—not that it is the greatest, but it is one that shows the real heart of Jesus. Someone born deaf and mute typically has to endure a lot of ridicule and abuse. At an early age, this man was mocked and teased by his so-called friends. He lived a very lonely life. Some say that being born unable to hear or speak is worse than being blind. You live in a world of silence unable to communicate with those around you. Can you imagine how lonely and sad an existence like his would be? I’m sure this man was very poor in the eyes of the world.
Most of the miracles that Jesus performed he did so in full view of everyone. But here, Jesus shows concern for this man’s feelings of insecurity. Thus, He pulls him away from the crowd to deal with him privately—just the two of them. Then, Jesus speaks to him in the only language he can possibly understand—sign language. Jesus took his fingers, put them into his ears to let him know that he was going to open them up, so he could hear. Then he spit on his finger and touched his tongue, to let him know that he was going to set him free from the bondage that kept him from speaking. Then, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed deeply. The Greek word that is used here is sustenazo (soos-ten-ad’-zo) which means ‘to groan together.’ I believe when Jesus looked up to heaven, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, groaned together, not only for this man’s pain, but more so, for the fallen condition of the world with all of its darkness, pain and suffering.
This word, sustenazo, is also used in Romans 8:20-22, where Paul writes, “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning (sustenazo) as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Even creation groans together with God over the pain and suffering in our world.
Jesus looked at this poor, lowly man and said, “Ephphatha!” (“Be opened!”) When Jesus gave this command, it was not just for his ears and tongue; it was for his whole being to be opened. Jesus’ command shattered the fetters by which Satan had bound this man for so long. Not just his ears and tongue, but even his soul was set free.
Jesus came to set the captives free. But, keep in mind, those who are set free are usually, if not always, poor in the eyes of the world. I hope and pray that you are poor in spirit and rich in Christ.