Everything With a Purpose (Mark 7:31-37)Sunday, May 19th, 2013
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Everything with a Purpose
The Gospel of Mark 7:31-37–The healing of the deaf mute man
They lived their entire lives in the back hills of Virginia–father, mother and a young son. All had never been to a city—ever. They didn’t have TV, radio, internet–not even a phone. But just before their boy was old enough to strike out on his own, dad and mom felt it best to expose him to city life in order to prepare him before he left their home. So they tossed their gear into their ancient pickup truck and drove three days to get to their downtown hotel to spend a few days in the city. And what they saw caused their mouths to gap.
Flashing lights, sidewalks, food venders and skyscrapers–they walked into their 20-floor hotel from the curb, and saw carpeting, statues, chandeliers, indoor waterfalls and pools, an ice rink, stores for clothes and food. It was incredible! But the most shocking sight of all were these amazing little rooms with dials on the top, and doors that would automatically slide open from the middle, then close. People would walk in, and then different people would walk out.
As Mom reserved the room, dad and son were transfixed on those magical rooms. Then it happened–at that moment a wrinkled old lady in a black dress shuffled up to the doors, pushed the button and waited a few seconds. The doors opened, she went inside, then the doors closed. Not more than twenty seconds later those same doors opened up, and out walked a fabulously attractive blond woman in her twenties, high heels, black dress, beautiful face, gorgeous figure. She stepped out and gave the father and son a smile and walked away. Papa nudged his boy and mumbled, “Son, go get your mother!”
It is safe to say, the father and son had lost sight of their purpose in the city. But you don’t have to be a hillbilly to miss what’s really going on. What is happening in Mark 7? Big changes are in the wind. A lot of the crowds are not following Christ any longer, because they want free miracle bread, but not inner spiritual bread. They don’t understand inner transformation, nor “get” why sins of the heart need forgiveness, or that salvation comes from God alone.
The Jewish people are used to keeping traditions and being taught that salvation comes through human achievement. Christ says you can’t do anything to be saved–God must save you. God must come to live in you, write His Word upon your heart, and make you a new person from the inside out. This was all promised in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31, but Judaism had been so corrupted by its leadership it had morphed into an external, manmade, tradition-keeping religion. So even though they loved free food and supernatural healing, the crowds began to move away from Christ and genuine salvation.
But that doesn’t mean Jesus gives up–early in Chapter 7 Christ humiliated the religious leaders in front of a large crowd to expose how far they had moved from God’s Word. And to show just how far they had moved from true salvation, Christ now travels away from Capernaum into Gentile regions. This trip almost seems random, but it is far from arbitrary. With every step of the journey, you see purpose.
First they went to Tyre in the north. He enters a house seeking seclusion. But a Gentile woman falls at his feet, and keeps urging Him to deliver her daughter from an unclean spirit. He tells her in verse 27, “It is not proper to take the children’s bread and toss it to the house dogs,” meaning–the Messianic blessing must be bestowed first on the Jews, then on the Gentiles. Her answer in verse 28, “Lord, even the house dogs under the table eat some of the children’s scraps,” shows great faith in Christ. So the Lord blesses her with a delivered daughter and genuine salvation.
From Tyre, in our text today, Jesus takes a long trip to Decapolis, to a place somewhere near the eastern shore of the Lake of Galilee. So now from a Gentile woman urging Him to rescue her child, He turns to a Gentile man afflicted with deafness and a speech impediment. From healing at a distance, He makes the transition to healing in the closest possible compassionate manner.
But in both cases–one in Gentile Tyre and the other in Gentile Decapolis, what you have here is a strong statement that the door of God’s Kingdom is opening to the Gentiles. Jesus is now beginning to purposefully crack that impossible barrier. And what I hope you will see in these verses today is the Lord’s intentionality and purpose in all He did.
Plus His deliberateness in all He currently does in your life. Students, Christ made you the way you are with your looks, your personality, your body and your mind–He made you. Everyone–Christ saved you at the perfect time, never too late or too early. Christ gifted you to serve in a very unique way, and gave you the faith to exercise that service for His glory.
Right now Christ is shaping you with your circumstances, trials, hardships and relationships to transform you into the man or woman He wants you to become. There is intentionality in all God does, especially for His children. Read these verses with me aloud–Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Second Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
Our Lord does all He chooses and all He allows with purpose–airplanes into buildings, bombs at marathon races, soldiers killed in battle, extended sickness, financial hardship, difficult marriages, rebellious children. All are done or allowed with a divine purpose. So as we study this event in Decapolis, which is unique to the gospel of Mark, I want you to look for purpose in what Christ does and be challenged to see His purposes in your own life right now.
Stand in honor of God’s Word, and let’s read it together from your outline aloud, Mark 7:31-37, “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 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; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ that is, ‘Be opened!’ 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’”
This specific healing is unique to Mark and is a powerful example of purposeful choices, intentional living–doing all to the glory of God. Look at what Jesus does now, starting in verse 31.
#1 TRAINING His men on an isolated road, then AGAIN recognized by the crowds
Verse 31, “Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis.” Do you see the first word in verse 31? “Again”–Mark tells us it happened again. What happened again? The same thing Mark described back at the end of verse 24. He wanted no one to know of it–yet He could not escape notice. Verse 31 describes a long journey, then Mark tells us the crowds in this new region of Decapolis again know Jesus has arrived, so they flood Him with needs—again.
But before He gets to Decapolis, verse 31 tells us a lot more than is apparent in the English translation. Like being in Tyre, Jesus and His men were still deep into Gentile territory. By tradition, not the Bible, this was an unclean place to travel through. After the verbal assault by the Pharisees, and Jesus’s condemnation of them for holding traditions above truth, described at the beginning of Mark 7:1-13, Christ now traveling to Tyre is almost a reactionary “in your face” Pharisees—almost.
It’s almost as if Jesus were saying external geography does not impact your spiritual life (unless you have to live in Hemet). Externals are not the issue. The issue is your heart, and only Jesus can transform a heart from God hater to God lover, from external obedience to internal heart desire for obedience.
When Mark adds in verse 31, “and came through Sidon,” he’s telling us when Jesus left Tyre He followed the coastline north some 20 miles and passed through Sidon. The phrase implies Jesus passed through the city as a traveler. And in that busy Gentile city, He’d have no difficulty remaining unrecognized. Then Jesus and His men traveled, verse 31, through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee within the region of Decapolis. Mark assumes you know the territory–but since most of you don’t, you’ll miss what Mark is trying to describe to his readers and us.
Jesus did not return directly to the Sea of Galilee from Sidon, but made a long detour and approached Galilee from the east. This trip would have taken weeks, possibly months, and would’ve been difficult travel, as part of it was off the main trade routes. There are no good routes from Sidon to Damascus, but once there they could travel down The King’s Highway–a major route, all the way down to the region of Decapolis by the Sea of Galilee.
It seems clear, Jesus deliberately kept to areas where He’d not be recognized so He could give His attention to His disciples. The Lord wanted training time with His men. And what better way to get it than to travel through regions far beyond the reach of Israel. Most certainly Christ invested this time equipping His men for this final year of public ministry–for the cross which awaited Him at the end of this year, and to train His apostles for their coming ministry of writing the New Testament Scriptures, preaching the Gospel, establishing Christ’s Church and turning the world upside down.
Mark gives us no hint of any teaching or miracles performed during this long trip, making this the Lord’s walking seminar to prepare them for leadership after His death. But Mark informs His Roman readers they all end up in Decapolis, which means ten cities (from the Greek deka, “ten”; and polis, “city”). It was a somewhat independent territory wedged between the region to the north ruled by Philip the tetrarch, and the regions to the south and west ruled by Herod Antipas.
In and around these ten cities, archaeologists have discovered the ruins of elegant amphitheaters, forums, and countless pagan statues and monuments honoring various Greek gods. It was a heavy Gentile region. So it is no accident that Mark alone records this miracle here since Mark’s Roman readers would appreciate the mention of Decapolis, a region so Roman the Romans considered it a “Rome away from Rome”.
As they arrive, Mark says in verse 31, “Again,” meaning AGAIN they’re deluged with crowds of needy people. How did this happen? Mark already told us—think back. Do you remember the man possessed by Legion in Mark 5? Jesus freed him and the demons rushed into pigs, and the pigs rushed into the Sea of Galilee and drown. So now their compromising business was ruined and their crazy possessed guard dog was now sane. So the locals ask Jesus to leave–the technical phrase is “get out”. And the delivered man wanted to go with Christ, but the Lord commissioned him to stay to tell his people what God had done for him.
Mark has told us what this delivered man did back in Mark 5:20, “And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed.” Well, he made an impact, because as the Lord and His men arrive in Decapolis, now no one is asking Jesus to leave. In fact verse 31 says “again,” meaning Jesus is overrun by people wanting help.
Every step Jesus took, He did so with purpose–whether it was proving Gentile territory was not unclean, demonstrating that Gentiles can be saved, displaying sovereign power to deliver a little girl from a demon from a distance not being physically present, or traveling far from home in order to train His men. Even leaving a man to reach a region He’d return to later? All Christ did was purposeful. But there’s another reason Jesus is in this region and now overwhelmed by the crowds of Decapolis.
#2 FULFILLING a specific prophecy of the Messiah
These verses describe a huge crowd around Christ–do you see verse 33? It tells us, “Jesus took him aside from the crowd.” And the parallel passage in Matthew 15 describes Christ compassionately performing many miracles for the Decapolis crowds. Matthew 15:30 to 31, “And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute, and many others, and they laid them down at His feet; and He healed them. 31 So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel.”
From all the crowds, and the many miracles being done in Decapolis, Mark selects just this one miracle, which Mark alone describes in detail, forcing us to dig deeper and ask, “Why only this miracle? “
Look at verse 32, “They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him.” The word “they” is an impersonal plural, meaning simply some unidentified people in the crowd brought a man to Christ. But the Greek word “bring” vividly pictures the man being conducted into the presence of Jesus by concerned friends. If it wasn’t for the active concern of his friends, this deaf man with limited speaking ability might not have been healed.
This man suffered from a double handicap–first he couldn’t hear, and second he spoke with great difficulty. At best he stammered. Both his hearing and his speech were impaired. Deaf in verse 32 is from an adjective meaning “blunt, dull” and suggests the affected organ had been dulled–its loss of sensitivity depriving it of its power and causing the loss of hearing.
“And spoke with difficulty” in verse 32 is from a single word in Greek–translated accurately, telling us, Mark is describing a man who can communicate, but is barely understandable. This is a rare adjective occurring only here in the New Testament. But it’s also used in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament in Isaiah 35:6 to describe the coming promised Messiah, who will miraculously restore the speech of the dumb when He comes.
Mark is making a prophetic point. Seven hundred years previous, Isaiah wrote about the coming Savior and what He would do in Isaiah 35:3 to 6, “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, ‘Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.’ 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute [In the Old Testament Septuagint, this is the same word used in Mark 7, mogi-la los] will shout for joy.”
One writer said this–on the few occasions when Mark fortifies his Gospel architecture with Old Testament reinforcements, they are load-bearing beams. This reference to Isaiah 35 is powerful, as this Old Testament verse mentions Gentile lands with Gentile people are those who will be blessed. Isaiah 35 is essentially the final chapter of the first part of Isaiah–it follows a series of chapters declaring God’s judgment on nations. But in chapter 35, the theme shifts from judgment to eschatology–that’s the end times, and to the joy of the redeemed and of all creation at the coming of the Lord.
Jesus’ healing of this particular mute man mogi lalos in Decapolis becomes the first-fruits of the fulfillment of Isaiah 35. Christ is here to fulfill prophecy–Christ is the promised Messiah. He has come to heal the tongue of the dumb, to shout for joy. Mark is trying to tell his readers and us that it was no accident that some unknown people in the crowd randomly brought a deaf-mute to Christ. This was all predicted hundreds of years before. There are no accidents when you are in Christ.
So the group who brought this crippled man to Jesus . . . verse 32, what’d they do? Implored Jesus to lay His hand on him. Put yourself in this man’s place–he couldn’t hear the Scriptures read. He couldn’t engage in normal conversation. He couldn’t hear the rain fall, birds sing, or people laugh. And he experienced the plight of all physically handicapped–gawking stares from rude people. So since the man could not speak for himself, those bringing him presented their request in his behalf.
The Greek word “implore” of “implored Jesus to lay hands on him” is to literally call Jesus alongside–to share this burden with us, to join us in our love for our friend. They assume the Great Healer must lay His hand on the man to cure his double ailment. They had probably seen Christ lay hands on others to heal them, but the Lord has His own way of dealing with each person.
This is a great reminder–don’t tell God what methods He should use in answering your prayers, just where He should place his hand. “Do it my way, Jesus!” Wow, are we proud! Christ’s ways are always the best ways–He has a purpose. You can trust He will always do what is best. He loves you and He is compassionate. Trust Him. Plus Christ is all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful, and the only one who knows the future. Trust Him. He loves people not only in mass, but also individually. His heart goes out not only to a multitude, but also to this particular man whom He treats differently than all others. Christ does something distinct, as Mark describes the healing.
#3 The unique, compassionate COMMUNICATING to a needy man
Listen to this extraordinary miracle, described vividly by Mark in verse 33 and 34, “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; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ [F-a-thaw] that is, ‘Be opened!’”
Here’s a man who’s miserable, but he has friends who love him enough to actually bring him to Christ–then beg Christ to heal him. The Lord does six things found in these two verses. Do you see them?
First He isolates him in PRIVATE, for an undistracted moment
In a time with no TV, radio, or even books, the crowds loved street preachers, street philosophers, magicians, even healers and would have loved to watch Jesus “do His stuff” for this man–but verse 33, “Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself.” Why? To care for Him in a personal way, away from the frenzy, noise, looks and the curiosities of the public–we can be so rude. That way the deaf-stammerer would feel more at ease, and would be able to concentrate his attention on the Lord. The Lord has no need for ratings, and this is no road show.
What Jesus does next has been highly debated by expositors, but it is really quite simple. Since the man cannot hear him, He uses an appropriate early form of sign language in order to tell the deaf stutterer exactly what He is about to do for him.
Second He communicates He will heal his HEARING
Verse 33, “and put His fingers into his ears.” Unless the man was a lip reader, there is no way he could understand any preliminary questions Jesus might have asked him. So Jesus gives this deaf-mute the special treatment he needs. Jesus physically tells him, I’m going to open your ears so you can hear.
Third He communicates He will heal his TONGUE
Verse 33, “and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.” He spat, probably on his own finger, and with that wet finger touched the man’s tongue. The meaning was simple—“I am going to heal your tongue so that you can speak.” The Lord did a similar thing in John 9 to communicate to a blind man that He would restore his sight. John 9:6, “He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes.”
And Christ will do the same in Mark 8:23. “Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” Yes junior highers, today we are talking about spit–our Lord did spit! There is nothing magical in the Lord’s spit–He is communicating to a man who can barely talk that He’s going to restore his speech.
Fourth He communicates the SOURCE of this healing is GOD Himself
Verse 34, “and looking up to heaven”–look, this comes from Him. Indicating to the deaf man that His help was coming from above, Christ of course dependent upon the Spirit, looks to His heavenly Father in prayer. Like the Psalmist in Psalm 123:1 to 2, “To You, I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!”
Fifth He communicates the COMPASSION of GOD for his plight
Verse 34, “with a deep sigh”–the deep sigh communicates the great compassion Christ has for this man who can’t hear and can barely speak. It’s as if Jesus is saying to him, “Your sorrows are My sorrows.” Jesus never healed half-heartedly. He always put everything He had into His works of mercy.
Yet this sigh might also reflect the fallenness of man, the consequences of our sinfulness, the cost of our rebellion to God, and how foolish we were as a race to have turned away from a loving, merciful and compassionate God.
Sixth He communicates the VEHICLE for your healing is CHRIST
Verse 34b, “He said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ [F-a-thaw] that is, ‘Be opened!’” He said, “Ephphatha!” It’s Aramaic–so for his non-Jewish readers Mark translates the term, informing them that this means, “Be opened.” Commanding both ears and tongue to be made whole–you know, Jesus could have merely given one command and this healing would have all been done. You remember that the woman’s daughter in Tyre was healed from a distance, so the Lord didn’t need to touch this man.
In fact, when He touched him, Christ became ceremonially unclean. So Christ shows His love, displays His compassionate heart for people, to make certain you all know He cares. His touch said, “I intentionally care, I understand, I love you.”
Christ never walks on by and leaves you beaten in the gutter. Hugh Rudd, CBS newsman, came home late one night after putting on the CBS late news and was let off by a taxi at his home on the East Side of New York. As he stepped away from the cab, four scruffy-looking youths surrounded him and said, “Give us your money.” He did. Then one of them took a pistol and beat him over the head. Rudd fell into the gutter, just a few steps from home. For seven hours on the fashionable East Side of New York, he lay on that street. He was semi-conscious. A whole parade of people went by: milkmen, people coming home from parties, people going out to work on an early shift. As they passed by him, he kept saying, “Help me, help me.” They would shrug and look the other way. His wife, worried sick, finally called the police. They came and found him at 7:00 AM the next morning.
Christ was compassionate:
FOR THE CROWDS in Matthew 9:36, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.”
FOR THE BLIND in Matthew 20:34, “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.”
FOR A LEPER in Mark 1:41, “Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’”
FOR THE WIDOW in Luke 7:13, “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”
The Lord shows us we cannot touch people by proxy. Jesus did not ask Peter to be His surrogate hands. Neither did He throw money at the need. The question for us is, are we reaching out to others, touching them in their misery? Have we been willing to be uncomfortable, even get dirty to help others? The Lord touching, spitting, looking up, speaking words were not random actions, nor magical mumbo jumbo. His actions were intentional, purposeful, genuine compassion.
Two of my lowest points in ministry were marked by acts of compassion. In my pain, words were shared and kindness shown that were such obvious manifestations of the compassion of Christ through a person, they marked me. I’ve never forgotten them. And this event was never forgotten as well.
#4 GLORIFYING God with immediate and total healing
Verse 35, “And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly.” With one command, the man was opened, unblocked and clear. The power of healing lay not in the actions of Jesus, as though they conveyed some magical power, but in the explicit, divinely empowered command of Christ. At once his ears were opened, he probably heard the word Ephphatha as it was spoken by the Lord.
Peter is probably telling Mark what happened, because Mark says his tongue was released—literally “the impediment” means in prison. Whatever it was that hindered his tongue from functioning properly, all at once it came loose, so that suddenly the former mumbler was talking like a speech therapist. He can hear and speak plainly.
The Great Physician truly makes Isaiah 35:6, “The tongue of the mute will shout for joy.” It reminds me of Exodus 4:11, “The LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?’” Jesus is demonstrating that His power is the power of God Himself–Jesus does what God does. Jesus is God’s Messiah. Jesus is God. All His healings were pointing to the truth that Christ is God. But the healings were not designed to keep Christ from His mission.
#5 REMAINING faithful to God’s plan of the cross
Verse 36, “And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.” Christ gave them strict orders that the miracle should not be publicized. “Them” refers to the man and his friends, but would include others who had learned of the cure. But they would not be quiet. I don’t believe Christ wanted to be known as the Hellenistic miracle worker, nor was Christ going to allow others to distract Him from the cross, which is now looming on the horizon.
Verse 36 adds, “but the more He ordered them”–the Greek tense for “ordered” tells us after the initial command was not heeded Jesus continued to repeat it on different occasions. But, verse 36, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. His insistence only inflamed their zeal. The more Jesus insisted they not speak of it, the more they shared it with all who’d listen.
Sadly, this is how so many church attenders act today–they express honor to Christ, except for obedience. Will you admit that is like you too? We are fine until someone tells us to stop, or don’t, or you can’t. You can walk by a door a hundred times, but the moment they put a sign on it, “do not enter”, you’ll check the door.
Christ’s purpose was not to heal everyone, feed all the hungry, be made king, usurp Herod, overthrow the Romans, change the political system or a hundred more off-center purposes that are embraced today as primary. Christ’s purpose was to go to the cross and provide salvation to the race of humanity who are all internally corrupted with sin. Only as we surrender to Him in obedient faith and turn from our sin in repentance will we be forgiven and made ready for heaven. They failed to obey, but they were impressed.
#6 IMPACTING the community through faithful ministry
Verse 37, “They were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’” The tense of “astonished” indicates that this miracle left them in a continuous feeling of being awestruck. “Utterly” stresses the super-abundant measure of astonishment. Nowhere else in the entire Bible is such a great astonishment depicted because of a miracle.
Repeatedly they expressed their amazement by saying, “He has done all things well.” The word “well” stands emphatically at the front of the verse, stressing what Christ had done was not only good in a moral sense, but also admirable and noble. He has done “all things” points to more than one miracle, while the perfect tense for “He has done” implies everything. What Christ has done in the past and is currently doing, is awesome.
“In the past” is a reference to the deliverance of the man possessed by Legion. His testimony, as well as this miracle, deeply impressed them to admire and esteem the deeds of Jesus. And when verse 37 tells us these Gentile folks say, “He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak,” it is a generalized statement of admiration for the ongoing deeds of Jesus. The present tense of the verb, “He makes” describes the ongoing miracles of Christ.
Today, I’m certain the Spirit is already working on your heart over what God has revealed in this passage. But allow me to focus on a few truths you may not have considered.
A = BE WARNED
This event makes it really clear you can be excited about Jesus and really impressed by the things Jesus does–even tell others about what Christ has done, and still not be His disciple/saved. Jesus even describes this kind of person in Luke 6:46, “’Why do you call Me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?’” And you know James 1:22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” And how do you become an obedient Christian–meaning a genuine Christian? Not by doing external do’s and don’ts, but by submitting to Christ, who changes your heart internally to want to obey, then even empowering you to obey through His Spirit.
B = KNOW COMFORT
Those of you distressed in some manner today know the comfort of Christ. Remember that everything happening in your life has purpose. Christ did all of this for His glory and their good, and He is doing the same thing in your life. There may be delay, misunderstanding, pressure, silence and weird signals. But God doesn’t want you looking for signs through your circumstances–He wants you dependently resting on, relying on, trusting in, and obediently following His Word. Confess all false crutches and trust in Christ’s Words alone. When you do, you will know the comfort of God like never before.
C = DO COMPASSION
We know from Matthew there were many other healings there. Can you imagine being there when Christ was at work? Can you hear the cries for help mingled with shouts of joy, as some came to Jesus diseased and deformed, while others were leaving healthy and whole? People who were sick went away cured. People who came with only one functioning arm or leg went away with two, and people who came blind and deaf went away seeing and hearing. People who had never spoken a word were now shouting praises to Jesus. People who had never walked a step were now jumping and running for joy.
It is hardly surprising that the multitude marveled as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. You do not have the gift of healing, but if you are in Christ, you have a heart of compassion–you can give, share, speak, sacrifice to those in great need and impact lives for God’s glory. But you have to choose to step out, decide to act, make efforts to be near those who are needy. It is not difficult.
Just start praying and wait for God to give you opportunities. A little boy came home from school one day looking melancholy. His mother said, “Was everything all right at school today?” He said, “Billy told us his daddy died. They buried him yesterday. Billy was crying—he was so sad about his dad dying.” The mother said, “Son, what did you do?” He said, “Mama, I put my head down on my desk and cried with him.”
Let’s pray. “O God, break our hearts, to be compassionate to all men, especially to the saints and purposefully to those who need Christ.”
If he had known then, there is no doubt the deaf and dumb man would have sung Charles Wesley’s words:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.
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