31Jesus left the region around Tyre and went by way of Sidon toward Lake Galilee. He went through the land near the ten cities known as Decapolis. 32Some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. They begged Jesus just to touch him.
33After Jesus had taken him aside from the crowd, he stuck his fingers in the man's ears. Then he spit and put it on the man's tongue. 34Jesus looked up toward heaven, and with a groan he said, “Effatha!” which means “Open up!” 35At once the man could hear, and he had no more trouble talking clearly.
36Jesus told the people not to say anything about what he had done. But the more he told them, the more they talked about it. 37They were completely amazed and said, “Everything he does is good! He even heals people who cannot hear or talk.”
If Jesus performed this miracle in our culture, what might our reaction be? It would certainly draw a lot of attention in the media. Some would turn the miracle into a formula, maybe sell a DVD with a 6-step program for healing. Others might build a cult around Jesus’ saliva. Our human tendency to worship the technique or object rather than our Healer would be evident before long.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus attempts to make this a private miracle. It seems terribly unfair of Jesus, who understands human nature, to heal a deaf and mute man only to order him not to tell anyone. But Jesus isn’t interested in formulas or phenomena. This miracle is unique and personal.
For one, it’s extremely tactile. Jesus was never afraid to touch the untouchable, but here he is intimate in his use of the senses. And think about the sigh for a minute. Was it a groan too deep for words? Was it a cry to One who knows our prayer before we even say it? Was it frustration and longing for the pain-free creation Jesus intended? That sigh offers a rare glimpse into Jesus’ emotions.
Finally Jesus says, “Open up!” The Bible is full of references to God unstopping that which was closed: Lydia’s heart, Hannah’s womb, a donkey’s mouth, a servant’s eyes, the disciples’ minds and the Scriptures themselves. Isaiah 35:5-6 (ESV) says that when we see “the ears of the deaf unstopped” and “the tongue of the mute sing for joy,” we will know that God has come to save us.
Later, in Acts 14:27, God opens a door of faith to the Gentiles. Similarly, on this day in the Decapolis, the hands of Jesus don’t just open the ears and eyes of a Gentile, but a door of faith for all Gentiles who witness it. That includes us.
Who do you know who needs the door of faith opened today? Lift them before the One who is in the business of opening doors.
Saving God who opens doors, I lift to you my burden, knowing that the One who opened eyes, ears, mouths, wombs and minds can speak the same opening today. You who answer prayer will receive all the glory. In the saving name of Jesus, Amen.