Mark 7:32 [S]ome people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.
Since the man could hardly talk, he had probably been deaf most of his life, or possibly all of it. But 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 7:33-35).
This was the beginning of a whole new life for the man. From this day forward he enjoyed both listening and speaking. Perhaps he heard the words, I love you, and said them in return. Maybe he heard the Bible read, and talked about it with others. Perhaps he heard Peter preach on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39), and then told others how to be saved. This is the highest use of hearing and speaking there is, and is a privilege we take for granted. The best use of our ears and mouth is to hear God’s word and share it.
Mark 8:22-23 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Jesus could have healed him publicly, but to avoid creating a scene, he took him by the hand and walked him out of town. Jesus didn’t take him by the arm or elbow, but by the hand. The hand is more personal than the arm or elbow, and they walked this way for some time. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you (Isaiah 41:13). Faith is putting your hand into the hand of Christ, and letting him lead you in the way of life.
Mark 8:23b-24 When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, Do you see anything? He looked up and said, I see people; they look like trees walking around.
The man was able to see, but only vaguely. It was better than blindness, but it was not perfect. So once again, Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes, and this time his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly (Mark 8:25).
This is the only time we read that Jesus healed in two stages. We don’t know why he used spittle, or why the man’s sight was not fully restored at once. But if there is a parallel, it’s that most people do not see clearly right away. Our eyes are opened the moment we believe in Christ, and our vision becomes clearer the more we learn of him in Scripture. Sight is a wonderful gift, and the more clearly we see the better.
Mark 9:17-18 Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.
The boy’s condition was so severe that his life was often in danger. The father was hopeful that Jesus could help, but was not entirely sure. [I]f you can do anything, take pity on us and help us (Mark 9:22), he said. If you can? said Jesus. Everything is possible for one who believes.
Jesus could heal people who did not have faith (John 5:1-8), but he encouraged this man to believe. With all the faith he could muster the man replied, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief (Mark 9:24). This is an excellent prayer whenever our faith is weak.
A pastor called on a man who lost his business due to a partner who ran off with the money. Then he lost his wife due to the stress of losing his business. Then he got cancer. The pastor offered to read the Bible to him, but the man replied that he did not believe in God anymore.
The pastor reminded him that God did not promise health, wealth or happiness, but something even better: forgiveness for all our sins, an eternal home in heaven, and never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Whenever hardship threatens our faith we should pray, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.
Mark 9:25-26 You deaf and mute spirit, he said, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again. The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.
We should not think every illness is caused by an evil spirit, but some apparently are. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:7-8), wrote James. This should be our practice every day, and in every situation. As long as we are saying yes to God, and no to sin, we are on the right path. The help of a trustworthy doctor can also be an answer to prayer.
Reflection and Review
How does Jesus change the way we see?
Do you ever struggle with unbelief?
How can we overcome the devil?