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 him to place 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 spat 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."
††† Jesus did many things. Not all of them were written down. In this chapter, Mark has told us how, starting this time from Gennesaret, Jesus was again confronted by the religious leaders.
††† Now Mark tells us that Jesus went back through Galilee to the Ten Towns. This was near to where the pigs had run into the sea, where that troubled man had raged in the cemetery before Jesus healed him. Remember? The man had asked Jesus if he could come with Him but Jesus sent him home. Now Jesus went to visit his region - the Decapolis,† the Ten Towns. Quite a few people were involved as He travelled around that region.
††† On one occasion some people came to Jesus bringing a man who was deaf and who had a bad speech impediment. They sought Him out, but Jesus did not want this man to be made into a spectacle. He saw immediately the problems this man was facing. He was in need, and Jesus did not allow Himself to be pressured by the crowd. This was not going to be a healing the mob could use to make Him into their kind of king. Jesus left the crowd and took the man to one side in order to be alone with him.
††† Mark tells us what He did. First He put His fingers into the manís ears; then He spat and put His fingers into His mouth. Maybe Jesus had cleaned out the man's ears and as a committed nurse, a doctor, He was not afraid of touching His patients. Jesus did not keep His distance. I suppose the spit was to get the man's wet again so he could swallow. Then, He prayed, "Be opened."
††† The man heard. Ever after he would remember Jesus' prayer: "Ephphatha" the first thing he heard when his ears started working again. Then he also began to speak. He had been healed. Jesus' fingers had been in his ears and His spit was on his tongue!
††† As well as protecting the man by taking him to one side, Jesus told him and the people not to make this into a big social event. It is as if He said: "No. Your task is to keep quiet. It is not to make this man famous!"
††† But Jesus' reputation spread. And that's also how we came to hear this story, a story Mark checked out. My hunch is that Mark heard "Ephphatha" from the lips of the healed man himself. Had the man stuttered it?
††† The more Jesus told them not to tell, the more news spread around. This was a dangerous situation. Some months before this, John the Baptist had been beheaded. Now Jesusí reputation was spreading and the people realized that He was Someone who did things well. They were amazed and grateful.
††† Perhaps this was a song. The healed man would be singing something like it all his life.