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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


Be Opened

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, 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!”). (Mark 7:33,34, NIV)

Following His conflict with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law (7:1-23), Jesus wanted to get away from Galilee for a time of respite and solitude. Thus, in Mark 7:24-37 we find Him in what are now the countries of Lebanon and Jordan.

Think of the ocean tides. A huge wave breaks in, followed by moments of calm, and then another huge wave crashes into the shore.

Jesus is less than a year away from His own death in Jerusalem. His great Galilean ministry is drawing to a close. As He prepares for the next wave of activity that will drive Him even closer to His destiny on the cross, He takes time to withdraw to Gentile territories.

But even there needy people find Him. A deaf and mostly mute man is brought to Him. Jesus deals with him differently than with any other. The Lord does four things uniquely in this healing.

First, He separates the man from the crowd. Why did He do this? Most likely, in this instance, to keep news of the healing as private as possible (7:36). Remember that Jesus is on retreat from conflicts and crowds.

Second, Jesus does something not associated with any other healing — He puts His fingers in the man’s ears, spits and then touches the man’s tongue. Jesus could have simply spoken a command. Why didn’t He? We’ll have to ask Him on the other side. The normal pattern He has given for us in praying is to lay hands on the sick and anoint with oil (6:13; 16:18; James 5:14). Symbolic actions are meant to accompany the prayer of faith.

Third, Jesus sighed deeply. Normally, sighing is a symptom of tiredness, concern or sadness. We know when Jesus healed the hemorrhaging woman, power went out from Him (Mark 5:30). Jesus’ sigh tips us off that healing this man took something out of Him. He paid a personal price to heal us from our sins and diseases.

Finally, we listen to Jesus speak in His mother tongue of Aramaic, “Ephphatha!” From early Christian tradition, we are told that Mark wrote his Gospel under the influence of Peter. When you read Mark, that makes sense because in this second Gospel you have unique moments that strongly show the presence of an eyewitness — such as Jesus sleeping on a pillow during the storm (4:38), speaking Aramaic to Jairus’ dead daughter (5:41), the crowds sitting on green grass in the feeding of the 5,000 (6:39), and the Aramaic again spoken here to the deaf and mute man.

Jesus not only says “Be opened!” to this man. He has come to set free what is bound in us, to heal both body and spirit.

He speaks “Be opened!” to closed hearts and closed minds. He wants to open the closed doors that have walled us off into windowless rooms of unforgiveness, shame and regret. He is the One who opens the prison doors of bondage and captivity to sinful and destructive habits.

A prayer of response
Lord Jesus, I hear You say “Be opened!” to me. Open my ears that I may truly respond to Your voice, Your will. Open my heart so that I may truly follow You and become the person You intended when You beheld my unformed substance.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

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