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Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man Mark (Mark Sermon 34)

Series: Mark

Jesus Heals a Deaf and Mute Man Mark (Mark Sermon 34)

December 04, 2022 | Andy Davis
Mark 7:31-37
Kindness of God, Justification

Pastor Andy Davis preaches on Mark 7:31-37 when Jesus healed a deaf and mute man with great power and incredible tenderness.



In Psalm 139, psalmist David celebrates the marvels of the human body, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Among the marvels of the human body is its ability to gather information from the universe around us by our five senses, our sight, our hearing, our smell, our touch, and our taste. These are portals whereby the glories of God and creation flow into our minds and hearts.  In fact, I think that's part of what the psalmist David celebrates in this verse, not just that our bodies are marvels of creation, fearfully and wonderfully made, but also that God's works in the universe around us are amazing too. "Your works are wonderful, I know that full well," He says. How do we know it? Because we're able to see it and hear it and experience it, and it fills our minds and hearts with the greatness of God.

Now, of course, among the wonderful capacities of our bodies is the sense of hearing. We're going to focus on that this morning. The way that our ears are designed by God to receive pressure waves that move through the air, disturbances of the air, and how our eardrums vibrate with those pressure waves and interpret it as sound in fascinating ways. The ear itself physically can be divided into three parts leading up to the brain - the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

The outer ear consists of the ear canal and eardrum. Sound travels down the ear canal, striking the eardrum and causes it to move, to vibrate. Then the middle ear takes over. It's a space behind the eardrum that contains three small bones called ossicles. This chain of tiny bones is connected to the eardrum at one end and to an opening to the inner ear at the other end. Vibrations from the eardrum cause the ossicles to vibrate, which in turn creates movement of the fluid in the inner ear.  Then movement of the fluid in the inner ear, cochlea, causes changes in tiny structures called hair cells. This movement of the hair cells then sends electrical signals from the inner ear up the auditory nerve, known as the hearing nerve, to the brain, and then the brain takes over and interprets these signals as sound.

By that amazing mechanism, we hear the beautiful sounds of the world around us. Even from within the womb, we heard the sound of our mother's voice, the sound of our mother's heartbeat. Then as we grow the sounds around us, of the world, around us, the sounds of nature chirping of birds, fluttering of leaves in a breeze, or the roar of the ocean or the beautiful sound of music are heard.

Music, what a gift. I just love music. The beauty of a chord progression. No one put melodies together, in my opinion, like Handel. I just love the way that he heard these beautiful melodies in his mind and then wrote them down. Or this skill of a pianist, a skillful pianist. Bach said, "Music is really easy. It's just a matter of striking the right note at the right time." So I've tried that. It doesn't work. I don't tend to strike either the right note or at the right time.  But I remember one time I was working as an engineer in Massachusetts and heard for the first time a Mozart piano concerto. I never really knew about them, but it was a classical radio station and it played Mozart's Piano concerto Number 8. The second movement, basically, paralyzed me. The company, didn't get any work out of me for about eight minutes as I was just transfixed by the way that Mozart wrote that music. It just floated through the air, into my ears, and captivated my heart.

And so it has been for all of you music lovers. There's a power to music, power to the progression of tones, the rhythm and frequencies, logic and order and beauty and power, emotion, all encoded in sound. But by far the most significant sounds we ever hear are the sounds of language. The sounds of language of, beginning with, our mother's words spoken gently into our ears from infancy, incomprehensible at first, but repeated again and again. So the infant begins to associate those sounds, the sounds of his or her mother's words, with experiences and conditions in the physical world, in life. Little by little language forms within their developing minds; it just seems to happen automatically.

I remember when my wife and I were missionaries in Japan, and laboring hard to learn the Japanese language. Back then, it was cassette tapes, and flashcards and a tutor and vocabulary lists and all that. The whole time our two older kids, Nathaniel and Jenny, were continuing their language study in English with no flashcards, no cassette tapes. Jenny was about one when we moved there, three when we left, with no tutoring, she was basically fluent in English. I wasn't fluent in Japanese, and it didn't seem fair. But there it is, in infancy language being encoded and imprinted in the minds and hearts of these developing little ones.

But imagine being born deaf or losing your hearing in the years or before the years when speech forms. Just the loss in general of all those beautiful sounds of nature is bad enough, bubbling brook, bird's sweet songs, the steady, soothing drone of a downpour, the mighty thunder of a waterfall never heard, but especially worse than that, no developing language. The inability to communicate the deepest thoughts of your own heart to others or receive in return the deepest thoughts of someone else's heart to you.

That is a tragedy of approximately 72 million people around the world, deaf mutes. It is certainly tragic. I don't minimize it to lose your hearing at any stage of your life. I remember reading about the anguish of Beethoven, who in his mid-20s began to suffer significant hearing loss, and he was a musician, a composer. It was a great anguish to him as that continued to get worse and worse, he became a social recluse, and only allowed close friends who knew his condition into a study. He communicated with them by a conversation book, which he would hand to them and they would write back and forth.

But by then, of course, Beethoven was well into his adult life, well into his musical training. He knew the sounds and frequencies of all the instruments in the symphony orchestra. He was able to hear them in his mind and continue to compose, which is still pretty amazing. But the level of tragedy is far greater, I think, for a baby that's born deaf or an infant who loses hearing in infancy and cannot develop language. That person becomes an island unto him or herself, sadly isolated, cut off, lonely, unsocialized, uneducated in many cases.

I was reading a early study done by a person in Ireland working with deaf mutes in the late 18th century. It was very early in the science of addressing the problem. He came upon an elderly mother there in Ireland who had two deaf daughters, grown daughters. They had not been allowed out of their house for over 20 years. They could only communicate with each other and with the mother in a very rudimentary way, and had no education and no skills beyond that of basic housework. Since their mother was elderly, the social worker was very concerned about the future for these young women. What was going to happen when the mother died?

That's the tragedy of deaf mutes around the world.The condition leads to a terrible form of isolation. It was into this isolation that Jesus, the compassionate healer, the compassionate savior, stepped  in one day, in one particular man's life. That's the study we're going to look at today.

I. The Context: Jesus in the Decapolis

So let's talk about the context. Jesus was in the Decapolis, look at verse 31, “Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.” Jesus was taking the long way around to get back to his home base of ministry there in Capernaum, in Galilee. He went around the Sea of Galilee. He could have gone directly from Tyre and Sidon straight down to Capernaum, but He went around into a predominantly Gentile area.

Some scholars believed Jesus was training and preparing the twelve for their future mission to the ends of the earth, including in Gentile areas. That may well be, just as He went purposely through Samaria and got his Jewish disciples, the apostles, to be aware of the Samaritans, and their need for the gospel. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well in the village and his work there.

Decapolis was a Gentile region. It seems also Jesus wasn't ready to return to the mayhem and chaos of the huge throngs, adoring crowds, and the hostile enemies in Capernaum and the other Jewish cities there throughout Galilee. He wanted to let the heat under the pot simmer down at that point, cool off a bit, because it wasn't time yet. There was a timetable here. He wanted things to calm down a bit, it seems, because He's still a good ways away from the ordained time for His death.

So He goes to the Decapolis. The word just means “10 cities”.  It's a loose confederation of ten, essentially, independent, Hellenistic or Greek cities located south and east of the sea of Galilee. It was Gentile territory, as I mentioned. They were Greeks, who had settled there after Alexander the Great conquered that region with his conquest and then died suddenly, leaving a vast Greek empire. Greeks came and settled there, and there was a long history of warfare between these Greeks and the nationalistic Jews who lived in Palestine on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. There's a lot of history there.

When Rome conquered that part of the world in 63BC, all Jewish political independence in that area came to a decisive end. But there are still those Greeks living over there. We also come back to the ministry that we looked at earlier of the demoniac of the Gadarenes. Do you remember that story in Mark chapter 5 how Jesus had driven out a legion of demons out of what I called the most wretched man in the Bible, the most wretched condition of any human being in the Bible was that man?  Jesus, as you remember, had effortlessly drawn out or driven out 5,000 or more demons from this one man into a herd of pigs. They rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea. Then the man was healed and fully dressed and in his right mind and begged to go with Jesus. He wanted to go with Jesus, yearned to be with Him. But Jesus wouldn't let him. He refused. Instead, He told him, "Go home to your family and the surrounding area and tell them everything God has done for you and how he has had mercy on you." So that was the man’s mission.

It seems like, I think, the man did his job. He went out as a beautiful missionary there in the Decapolis, Mark 5:20, “The man went away and began to tell them in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people in the Decapolis were amazed.” This may well be the fruit of that man's ministry. There was a huge crowd of Gentiles, it seems, waiting for Jesus and ready to see him do healings. Where'd they get that information? Probably from that man who went around.

II. A Deaf Man’s Terrible Plight

People had known about the demoniac of the Gadarenes, and his terrible plight, especially his family, and they were amazed. They fully expected that Jesus could do something for anyone, so they brought this deaf man. We see this deaf man's terrible plight. They bring this suffering man to Jesus, verse 32, “There some people brought to Him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Him to place His hand on the man.”

I've already given you a sense of the terrible and tragic isolation of the deaf mutes. The International Mission Board divides up its worldwide mission into nine affinities, they call them affinity groups. They're roughly geographical. So you have the European affinity, North Africa and Middle East affinity, Sub-Saharan African Affinity, the Americas, which would be Central and South America, et cetera. They're generally geographical, but they're also somewhat linguistic and cultural as well.  For example, the IMB works in Montreal as if it were a European city, because it's more European than it seems North American. They just seem to know how to reach the French speakers there in Montreal better than the North American mission board would. That's how the affinities work. Australia also seem to be a European affinity even though it's not in Europe. It's just a cultural thing.

But what's amazing is one of the nine affinities is the deaf affinity, because a number of years ago it became clear that the deaf all over the world were people unto themselves. They weren't enculturated. They didn't mix in Central Asia or in Latin America. They just had their own unique set of circumstances, and even their own unique language, their ability to communicate by sign with each other. So they were a people unto themselves, and then they just basically met any definition that you could give of a people group. There is a deaf affinity. All over the world, the missionaries that are especially skilled to reach the deaf people, reach them in similar ways all over the world.

The issue there, of course, is the problem of speech development. So let's talk about that. What is speech? Speech is arbitrary signs that are assigned to physical realities or circumstances. Sounds that are assigned to them. There's usually no connection whatsoever to the sound that we assign to the thing. It's just a convention. That's what language is. For example, there's nothing house-like about a house. When you look at a structure with doors and windows and a roof it doesn't scream at you or whisper to you, "House," it's just something we say. So in French it's “maison” and in Japanese it's “uchi”. The reality is the same, but different sounds.

When an infant grows up as a deaf person, none of those arbitrary sounds can enter his or her mind, so they can't learn language in that sense. They're mute. This deafness and mutinous leads to a complete inability to participate in language-based communication. This led deaf mutes in Jesus' day to be seen as insane by their people, generally. Not much different than demon possessed people, which they're not. But because they can't communicate, they were seen that way. A very tragic situation.

Also, theologically, we need to understand, when God wants to reveal Himself to us, to communicate, He does it by revelation, I just used the word “reveal.” Theologians break it into two categories, general revelation and special revelation. General revelation is that which comes in by our five senses. Special revelation is always language-based. It's the Bible. It's the word of God.

If you haven't learned language, how can you learn theology, spiritual reality, and specifically, how can you learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It's a very significant problem, and that's the problem here. The deepest problem is the learning of the word of God. Without language, that revelation is impossible because it's all language base.

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes from hearing.” It's based on language. You can't look at a rising or setting sun or feel the wind on your face and think Jesus Christ. That will never come into your mind. It has to be explained. It has to be preached. If you don't know language, you can't receive that. So into this quiet world of tragic and sad isolation for this deaf mute, Jesus came with great compassion and power. 

III. Jesus’ Gentle Power

Let's look at Jesus' gentle power, verse 33-34, “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, and He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh, said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’which means ‘be opened’.” First of all, you just need to understand, we've seen this before, especially with the last healing, the Syrophoenician woman's demon possessed daughter. Jesus didn't even need to be there. He didn't even need to go. He didn't say anything. He didn't do anything. He just drove out the demon.

So any of these physical things that Jesus does, He just chooses to do. None of them are essential. But He is communicating, and He's communicating first with this man. He's speaking a kind of sign language with this person, and it's very tenderhearted and loving. First of all, and just in general, just know the most common emotion ascribed to Jesus is that of compassion. That should engender within all of us as Christians, a desire to imitate Jesus in his compassion, to have an empathetic heart, to see the suffering of people around us, empathetically or compassionately.

"The most common emotion ascribed to Jesus is that of compassion. That should engender within all of us as Christians, a desire to imitate Jesus in his compassion, to have an empathetic heart, to see the suffering of people around us, empathetically or compassionately."

Some of us are more compassionate than others, but all of us should yearn to imitate Jesus in compassion for suffering people. We see that compassion. Again and again, it is clear that Jesus felt deeply the sorrows and miseries of sinful humanity. It was compassion that led Jesus to leave heaven and come to Earth. It was compassion that led Him to become,  in Isaiah 53:3, “a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering”. Then a verse later, “surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.”

Look at Jesus and what He does. We see four gentle actions sequentially here that Jesus does with this tragic person. First of all, He takes him away, apart from the crowd. Remember there's always a huge crowd. Jesus wants time alone just with this one person. There's a very powerful “you and me” sense of relationship here. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. And I no longer live, but Christ lived in me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”  You and me, Jesus, just the two of us. There's an intimacy here with just Jesus and this deaf person. He takes him away from the crowd, then He puts His fingers in the man's ears. Why does He do that? Again, it's not needed. He doesn't have to touch. But Jesus loved to touch when he healed, and I think he was identifying to this deaf person, the part of the body He's going to work on. He's working on the ears, he’s working on the hearing.

So He puts his fingers in there. Also, there's a connection between Jesus and what's about to happen to this person's ears, so the touch. Next He spit and touch the man's tongue. In my reading of the four gospels, there are three different times that Jesus uses His own saliva to do healings. He's going to do another one in Mark 8 with a blind person. Then in John 9, He spits and makes mud, and smears it on the blind man's eyes. It's very interesting. Usually, and I'll mention this in the sermon, God willing, next time when He spits in the man's eyes, that would be considered great insult, grievous insult, but with Jesus it's a matter of healing.He spits and touches the man's tongue. Again, in touching the tongue, He's identifying the part of the body He's going to work on, the ears, the tongue. This is what He's going to do. Next, He looked up to heaven. So there's a universal sense of the greatness of God above us. He's connecting all of this with God the Father who wants to heal him through Jesus, so these four actions.

But that all just sets up the moment. What's the moment of power? The moment of power is Jesus's word. God's word is powerful. So when He speaks, that's when the healing happens. When He speaks, the healing happens. This is the moment of power. He looked up to heaven, verse 34, “and with the deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" which means be open.” This is one of the few Aramaic words transliterated for us and brought over into our language. There's a number of them, maranatha is one, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, [inaudible 00:24:08]. There's a number. It happens, but it's not common. This is one of the times.

Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Mark to give us this transliteration? The original word was in Aramaic, but it was transliterated into Greek, and brought from the Greek transliteration into English. That's a lot of work. For some reason the Holy Spirit wants us to hear the word. I don't know why, but I'm going to speculate.  The Greek word itself is interesting. It begins with an epsilon and E and then two phis, and the two phis are brought over, it's the fff sound, like that, two consecutive. Look at the word right there on the page. Have you ever seen a word like that? Phph, that's odd. That's four consecutive consonants, but it's dragged out. These are called aspirated consonants or aspirates. It takes air to say them. It's doubled like that. Not only that, Jesus does it with a deep sigh. There's all kinds of air moving here. Then after that comes a theta, which is another aspirated consonants. You got, ephphatha, like that. Why am I belaboring this moving of air? First of all, that's what sound is, which is what it is. It's pressure waves moving through air. But also, it reminds me of the theological significance of air and spirit and the movement of air in the Bible.

So here we go from physical over into the spiritual realm. We know that Adam was given life because God breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living being. There's that breathing of life. Then again it happens in John 3 when He says to Nicodemus, "You must be born again. You should not be surprised at my saying, you must be born again." Then he gives an analogy. "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear it sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from and where it is going." That's what it's like with everyone born by the spirit. It's like the sound of the wind blowing, and then the person is transformed. They're born again.”

Or again, the image in Ezekiel 37 of the valley of dry bones, very, very dry bones. Ezekiel was told to prophesy to the bones, and the bones assembled the big rattling sound. Then he was told to speak to the wind. Now the Hebrew word for wind, “ruach,” also means “spirit” or “air”. It's an interesting overlap there. He spoke to the winds, and the four winds came and the breath of life came into these resurrected bodies. He was told to speak to the wind, and in came the air, the breath of life.

So we have all this breathing, or again in 2 Timothy 3:16, “all scripture is God breathed." Again, God doesn't have lungs. God doesn't have a mouth. These are anthropomorphic ways of speaking, so we can understand God's activities. God breathes out the word, and He brings it into our hearts and minds. That's why I think there's so much of this sighing and ephphatha, and why the Aramaic is brought over.

Look at the powerful impact. The iron gates of deafness were thrown open. His ears were opened, it says, and then, it says, his tongue was loosened. The chains of speech, the impediment is gone. There's a sense of freedom here. God did not create ears to be deaf or the tongue to be paralyzed or chained up. This is a picture of a work, a full restoration of God's original purpose for the physical body.  Probably the most amazing physical impact here is the fact that when this man's tongue was loosened, he began to speak plainly. The Greek says, “ortho” like orthodox or orthodonture. He spoke the right way. Everything he said was said or pronounced correctly, accurately, and that's with no speech therapy. All of the sounds that he needed to make to speak that language were immediately given to him in his mind, no speech therapy, instantly healed. I find that amazing.

It's just like the paralyzed man. The man hasn't walked in 40 years. He doesn't need any physical therapy, he's just immediately healed. That's amazing. Of course, this all reminds me also of the day of Pentecost as well when all the apostles were gathered together in the upper room and they're waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit to come. They're all there praying up in the room when suddenly — the sound of a rushing wind. That's the first miracle that happened; it was just sound, just the sound of a rushing wind.

And that sound gathered the huge crowd to around the house, because they heard the sound too, but they didn't see any wind moving. Then the tongues of fire came and separated, and they all began to communicate, to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Then the apostles go down and Peter leads the way and preaches the gospel to the assembled crowd. But they're from all over the world. They're from all over the Roman world. There's a miracle that happens that all of them heard the one message given by Peter in their own mother tongue. How do you explain that?

Pressure waves going through the air, hit the inner ear and all that, the same waves different, but? Was it inside the brain that the thing got translated? I don't know, it's a mystery. But they all heard the same message in their own native tongues. Acts 2:7-11, “Utterly amazed, they asked, ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near Cyrene. Visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs. We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own language.’”  How awesome is that? 

IV. Crowd’s Overwhelmed Reaction:  Jesus Does Everything Well

Then we see the crowd's overwhelmed reaction. Look at verse 36, 37, “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone, but the more he did so the more zealous they were to keep talking about it.” This is common. We have this from the beginning of Jesus' gospel ministry and Mark's gospel. The leper, remember he was told not to tell anyone, and he went out immediately told everyone. As a result, Jesus could no longer go into the towns but had to stay outside in lonely places.  And so we have all that. Some people have thought, “Ah, Jesus is using reverse psychology. If you tell them not to do it, they're going to do it all the more.” Don't think those thoughts, Jesus doesn't use reverse psychology. When He commands people not to tell, He wants them not to tell. If you're going to go with reverse psychology, this is the verse right here. This is the place, because the more He commanded, the more they did it anyway.

We do know that the prohibition is temporary, because the Holy Spirit decades later moved Mark to write this down and wanted this account spread all over the world. He wants everyone to know, now, about this healing. But at the time there was his prohibition. Look at their reaction. They're overwhelmed with wonder. The Greek words that Mark uses is “beyond all measure.” It can't be measured how astonished they are. It spills over, their amazement. They can't contain themselves. They say, and I love this, "Jesus has done everything well."Let me put it in more kind of the vernacular. Jesus is good at everything. I mean, there's nothing He cannot do. There's no medical condition He cannot heal. Everything He puts his hand to, prosperous.

V. The Central Lesson: Spiritual Healing

How do we learn some lessons from this? This is another healing account. Let me begin by telling you my own unique challenge here. I thought about this yesterday. My task today is to use words reading an account you've probably read for years, and heat up your affections, so that you are more amazed at Jesus than you were before. More amazed at Jesus than when you walked in here. That's my task. I'm supposed to heat you up like a kettle until you whistle. That's my task. It's not easy to do, because all I get to do is just talk. And I'm talking about things you've heard before.  Jonathan Edwards in talking about preaching said this, "The things of religion are so great that there can be no suitableness in the exercises of our hearts, to their nature and importance, unless they be lively and powerful. In nothing is vigor in the acting of our inclination so requisite, as in religion, that means Christianity, and in nothing is lukewarmness so odious." Lukewarmness stinks to God. So the question I have to ask myself, because I'm in the same boat as you, and that all of you have to ask, “Why do my affections need to be heated up? Why am I not overwhelmed with wonder at Jesus? He's every bit as wonderful as ever he was.” Let me continue with Edwards. "I don't think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they're affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and if their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance."

"Why do my affections need to be heated up? Why am I not overwhelmed with wonder at Jesus? He's every bit as wonderful as ever he was.”

So I want to be sure that if I heat you up, you're heated up rightly and proportionally. "I should think myself in the way of my duty," Edward said, "to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with."

So that's my task, and this morning I said, "Who is equal to such a task? How can I do it?” All I can do is beg the Lord to send forth His Holy Spirit so that you would look at this account and realize, Jesus should be worshiped for this. He should be worshiped. We just get so caught up in the things of the world and the sins of life, and we struggle with these sins, and we forget to marvel at Jesus. So my first application to myself and to all of you is marvel about Jesus more than you did before. That's all. However you do that.

But beyond that, I want to talk about spiritual hearing. All of Jesus' miracles are pictures of spiritual healing. They are real miracles, actual miracles done in space and time, so also this one. The real deafness is spiritual deafness, unable to hear God speaking. Spiritual deafness is described in Psalm 135:15-18, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but they cannot speak. Eyes but they cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear. Nor is their breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

Do you hear that? Those who make the idols will be like them. They have ears, but they do not hear. So also this, Ezekiel 12:1-2, "The word of the Lord came to me, 'Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see, but do not see, and ears to hear, but do not hear; for they are rebellious people.”  And again in Isaiah 42:17-20, “Those who trust in idols, who say the images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. Hear you deaf, look you blind and see. Who is blind but my servant and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things but have paid no attention. Your ears are open but you hear nothing.

And then this from Stephen in Act 7:51, "You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears..." What does that mean, uncircumcised ears? "You're just like your fathers, you always resist the Holy Spirit." So people in sin are spiritually deaf. They cannot hear God speaking to them through the word of God. Therefore, Jesus, again and again, said this interesting thing, when he would especially tell a parable, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

"People in sin are spiritually deaf. They cannot hear God speaking to them through the word of God. Therefore, Jesus, again and again, said this interesting thing, when he would especially tell a parable, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" 

What's so beautiful is Jesus has the power, spiritually, to put his fingers in your spiritual ears, the ears of your heart and say, "Ephphatha, be open." He can do that by the power of the Spirit, He can open the ears of your heart to hear God speaking. Matthew 13:14-17, “In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You'll be ever hearing, but never understanding; you'll be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ For this people's heart has become callous; they hardly hear what their ears, and they close their eyes. Otherwise, they might see what their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it."

What are blessed ears? How does Jesus put his fingers, spiritually, into the ears of your heart and say, "Ephphatha, be open," to your heart? How do you know that that's happened? One indication is 1 Thessalonian 2:13, "We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, among you who believe." That's how you know your ears are open spiritually. When you hear a faithful exposition from the scripture by anyone, not just me, anyone, you identify it as though God we're speaking to you. You know that God is speaking to you by this. That's when you know your ears are opened. That is spiritual hearing.

As Francis Schaeffer said of God, "He is there and he is not silent." Or again, Isaiah 1:2, “Hear, oh heavens, listen, oh earth. For the Lord has spoken.” Faith comes by hearing, it comes from hearing the gospel message. So as you hear the words of the Gospel of Mark, do you feel faith growing inside your heart? Do you feel or sense the reality of the greatness of Christ as we walk through the Gospel of Mark? Is that happening for you? Is that developing within you?

Not only does faith initially come by hearing, it grows by hearing. In Galatians 2, Paul says to the Galatian Christians, "Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now perfected by the flesh? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and work miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith?" That's how you grow. The same way you begin your Christian life, you grow, hear, then hear with this with faith.  Or again as Hebrews 3:7-8 when the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart." You ought to pray that every time you have a quiet time, say, "Lord, as I'm reading the scripture today, let me hear you speaking to me today, and let me not harden my heart. Let me not harden my heart."

Those of you that came in here this morning as unbelievers, do you hear Jesus calling you now to follow Him? Do you hear Him saying, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest"? Do you hear Jesus say in John 7, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." That's the call of salvation, to come to Jesus, who does all things well and to trust His blood shed on the cross for your sins. Do you hear Him? Do you hear His word and His Spirit speaking to you today?

Close with me in prayer. Father, thank you for the time we've had to walk through this incredible text today. And Father, we thank you for the truth that is in it, how powerful it is. We ask, oh, Lord, that you please open our hearts and our minds and sustain us. Help us to hear you speaking to us through the ministry of the word. In Jesus' name, amen.

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