Then 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 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.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37, NIV)
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What powerful imagery Saint Mark uses here! This story is still relevant to us today, making it completely usable in our daily walk with Jesus.
But there is something particular I want to focus on: Jesus’ commandment in the beginning of verse 36. It says, “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone”.
This just jumped off of the page to me - what a command, what a request! Here is a man that most likely knew that Jesus was being called the Messiah.
Remember that Jesus had visited the region of Decapolis earlier in His ministry (in the miracle of casting out the demon(s) “Legion” into the pigs). If you recall, the people of this region were afraid and asked Jesus to leave them and the man He exorcised alone.
Yet Jesus tells this man the opposite: “Go home to your own people [Decapolis], and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.”
This occurrence provides a sharp contrast to our current command. And now Jesus returns to a people who have an entirely different countenance - they went from asking Him to leave in fear to crowds trying to reach Him, saying “He has done everything well!”
If you think about it, this is a beautiful picture of what one man’s story can do in a region for Christ.
So why then is He now telling the man in today’s passage to tell no one? He has utterly changed your life - and then tells you to keep quiet about it...why?
Jesus was concerned for His mission and the focus being taken from His message and towards something else.
We see when Jesus cleansed the leper in Mark 1, “that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town” because of the crowds and the “good word” that the leper had spread.
But for Jesus, this fame was unnecessary and unneeded.
Look forward to John 6: “Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” (26-27, NIV)
People love the spectacular, they wanted miracles and a conquering King who would sit on a throne, not a dying Savior to hang on a cross. Jesus was there primarily for their souls; His mission was pointed to Calvary.
“Tell no one,” Jesus says.
As we see in John 6, the crowds consistently flocked around Him so that they could experience all the great things that He could give them now. But with every focus on the immediate, they overlooked His greater plan.
In our modern world, where everything is public knowledge, where our every act is posted across social media, this is so applicable to our lives.
Do we saturate ourselves with signs - or does our every action fixate on the cross and Jesus’ resurrection? What does your social media point to? What do our acts - our signs - point to in a fallen world?
When we see the miraculous, are we shining a light unto our faith or on the “sensational?” When the latest story comes around of the miraculous healing of a cancer survivor, or a disappearing tumor, are we getting caught up in the glory of the tragedy, or are we focused on the glory of Healer; the food that never perishes?
One of the greatest dangers that we fall in today is doing “good things” without any connection to the saving grace of God. For years, “good men” have given billons to charity, have fed and housed countless individuals, but without Jesus, their hunger is not satisfied.
How quickly is my heart caught up in the “good” instead of being caught up in the cross. We must remember that Jesus’ truest miracle was not healing the blind or the lame, it was His eternal cleansing of sin - this is the great focus of our lives.
All of our good is for naught if it is not for God.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews or Greeks or the church of God. Even as I try to please everyone in every way, for I am not seeking my own good, but the good of many, so they may be saved. Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1, NIV)
Thank you so much for the read! If you enjoyed today's devotion, please share it with others! The social media tabs below make that easy! And as always, we hope to have you join in tomorrow.
[guest writer: Kyle Oliva]