"Some people brought him a man who was deaf and could hardly speak, and they begged Jesus to place his hands on him. So Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man's ears, spat, and touched the man's tongue. Then Jesus looked up to heaven, gave a deep groan, and said to the man, 'Ephphatha,' which means 'Open up!' At once the man was able to hear, his speech impediment was removed, and he began to talk without any trouble."
~ Mark 7:32-35
It is so easy for me to read over a passage like this without giving it much thought. Today, it beckons me to dig deeper. Why did Jesus put his fingers in the man's ears? Why did he spit and touch the man's tongue? Why not just speak healing over this man?
I have been mulling this over for most of the day. As I picture Jesus reaching over and placing a finger in each of the man's ears, I am a bit turned off by the whole idea. Then, I try to visualize Jesus spitting and touching this man's tongue with his spit. My first thought is, "Eww..disgusting." But I want to know why Jesus used these unusual methods to heal this deaf and mute man.
Three things are jumping out at me. First, this is such a personal, intimate gesture. The ONLY people I can see myself touching in this way are my husband and my children (when they were little!) Another thing that strikes me about this passage is that it creates a rather unpleasant portrait of an amazing miracle. This brings me to point number three...not only was this man able to hear after Jesus touched him, he was able to speak! I am not a speech pathologist, but I am thinking that this trumps the miracle of hearing for the first time.
Perhaps we are given this illustration to give us a clear visual of how Jesus longs to touch us personally. He doesn't just want to fix what's wrong in our lives. He wants to be intimately involved in every detail of it ~ the good, the bad, and the UGLY. He wants to reach into the dirtiest, sickest parts of our beings and heal us. He isn't afraid, repulsed, turned off, or offended by the festering wounds we carry. Just the opposite! He longs to engage with us on a very personal level and do the work that only he can do. He wants to make it better ~ but more importantly, he wants to bring us to a deeper knowledge of him. He wants us to know him intimately. He wants us to grasp the truth that nothing is too difficult for him to accomplish. He'll even spit on his own hand before touching our wounds if that's what he needs to do to get this point across.
Here I am, Lord. You see my festering wounds, my sickness, my filth. I invite you to come and touch me. Unplug my ears that often tune you out. Fill my mouth with words that edify and bless. More importantly, reveal yourself to me, that I may come to know you more deeply!
"God is love. He didn't need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing."