As we journey through the Witness of Mark, we want to encourage you to first begin with the Daily Reading that will take you through the entire book of Mark. Then, read the First 15 Scripture and Reflection to dive a little deeper into verses from the Daily Reading.
Today's daily reading is: Mark 7:24-37
People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
In the Gospel of Mark, there is an observable narrative movement concerning the mystery of Jesus’ identity. Mark lets us in on the secret, telling us from the beginning that his account is one of good news concerning Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Son. Mark identifies John as the forerunner to the Messiah, and records the baptism of Jesus, when a voice from heaven identifies Jesus as “Son,” and when the Holy Spirit descends on him like a dove.
But to the disciples, and to the everyday people Jesus encountered, Jesus’ messiahship remained an open question. When the Twelve looked upon Jesus, they would have seen a human being like you and me. Jesus got tired and slept. He broke bread with them. He listened to the news of the day. He worked with his hands. Perhaps there was some form of recreation Jesus really enjoyed, like skipping stones on the lake. He welcomed children with gladness. People speculated about Jesus’ identity. As we’ve seen, some thought he was Elijah, others John the Baptist, and still others one of the prophets. But no one but demons identify Jesus as “Son of the Most High God,” and Jesus is quick to silence and defeat them when they do.
Scholars have referred to Mark’s narrative strategy as “the messianic secret.” Jesus repeatedly tells those he heals to keep quiet about what took place. Through about the first eight chapters of Mark, it appears Jesus wants to limit his exposure. But no matter what he says, people talk about Jesus. They spread the word. The crowds grow. He draws the attention of rivals and opponents, people who view Jesus as a challenge or even a threat. But no matter what the religious leaders and the Pharisees say, there are many people who are amazed by Jesus and who believe “he has done everything well.” Even if John Lennon was being facetious when he said the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus Christ,” he was wrong. Jesus was winning people over, and he still does.
Matthew 15:29-31 parallels this story, and tells us that Jesus healed many: the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and “many others.” The result was praise, worship to the God of Israel. In Mark, we have a record of one particular healing in which a deaf man who was also mute was brought to Jesus. The people pleaded with Jesus to put his hand on the man, to touch him. So Jesus took him aside and did something strange. Jesus put his fingers in his ears. He spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked to heaven and sighed deeply, and said, “Ephphatha!” It is an Aramaic word that means, “Be opened.” On command the man’s ears were opened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus told them not to tell anyone what happened, which of course led them to speak about him all the more. “He has done everything well.”
Jesus’ command, “be opened,” is addressed directly to the man. Jesus does not only command his ears and his mouth, but him, his whole person. There is a lesson here for us. We may not be in need of a physical healing. But we do need to be open to Jesus, to receive him, to become deeply convicted that “he has done everything well.” When we are open we are able to receive his love, grace, and even his correction. We trust that his work is sufficient and his way is best.
Jesus is for you and his love knows no bounds (Romans 8:31-38), so be open. Let him lay his hand upon you, unstop your ears, loosen your tongue, and give you reason to offer praises to the God of Israel, the God who has come to us in Jesus Christ.
Father, open my heart to you so that I might receive your Son, trusting him for healing, guidance, and restoration. Send the Holy Spirit to fill me today, enlivening me in my inmost being and deepening my love for you and for my neighbor. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.