Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Mark 7:31-37

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

It was said at the beginning of the week that the Gospels were given to us so that we could share the experience of seeing the life of Christ as those who were actually there saw it during the time he went about representing and presenting the true kingdom of God. When Jesus started his ministry he said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” The mission of Christ’s kingdom had everything to do with Jesus revealing who he was and giving people the opportunity to respond to him. Anyone of those who were there to see him or anyone who sees him through the gospel writings today will have had the opportunity to respond to Jesus Christ in the full and complete way that was intended. 

We conclude our week and the seventh chapter of Mark with another of the miracles of Jesus. All week we have been considering the “issues of the heart” and we are challenged today with an issue of the heart that we have considered before. We see the issue in the conclusion of today’s passage after Jesus has finished healing the deaf and mute man they brought to him. It says this, “They were utterly astonished.” Sound familiar? This response to Jesus performing this miracle is exactly the same response we were told his disciples had in the account of Jesus walking on water. Here’s what we were told then, “they were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” 

Astonishment as a response to Jesus doesn’t cut it! Astonishment is not enough! Astonishment is being surprised and questioning, “how can this be?” Astonishment is seeing Jesus do something miraculous and concluding, “it makes no sense.” This response to Jesus is no more of a response than when we see an accomplished magician perform an elaborate magic trick and we are left mystified. There is a thrill at being mystified and we want to be mystified over and over again. So, if our response to Jesus is merely one of being astounded or mystified, it means we are not gaining the insight we need to respond properly to him and the reason for this is the issue of a heart that is hardened.

A full response to Jesus means that our hearts have opened up to the reality of who he is and have moved past the mere wonder (astonishment) of his miraculous behaviors. We come before Jesus in full awareness that we are before the Lord and Master of the universe and we bow in awe, worship, surrender, and devotion. With open hearts filled with the very presence of God Almighty, we are changed forever. The opportunity is ours to respond to Jesus Christ in the full and complete way that was intended.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, here I am on the other side of the cross and the resurrection. You live in my heart through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that I can always be with you and before you. I ask you to do something about the ways my heart is hardened to this reality of who you are. Help me to enter fully into being with you and before you. Open my heart to the fullness of who you are. I seek to be before you in awe, worship, surrender, and devotion. Help me to go about facing the challenges of my life today fully counting on you and the difference you make. Amen!