Phil Cox

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Jesus heals us because He loves us

2nd February 2008

Mark 7v31-37
Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 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.
After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the manís ears. Then he spat and touched the manís tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). At this, the manís ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Jesus had left Lebanon and was travelling south through the Decapolis - a Greek-based culture East of the Jordan. The people who lived there brought this man to Jesus. They knew what his problem was - he was deaf and could hardly speak. And they knew he needed Jesus's help - only Jesus could heal him. And they thought they knew how Jesus should heal him. He'd laid hands on others for healing before (see Mark 6v5 and Luke 4v40) and they assumed that he'd do the same again. But Jesus knows both what we need and the best way to provide it better than we do.

Jesus loves it when we come to Him with our requests:

Philippians 4v6
...in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But He answers our prayers in His own way. And, if we believe that He is a loving, wise and powerful God, we should be glad that He does!

First, we see that Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd. God does much more, and heals many more people, than we realise. He doesn't always do things when we're watching. He knows what each one of us needs, and He knew that this man needed time away from the crowd. And that's true for many of us, much of the time. Much of our own healing comes away from meetings - it comes in our private prayer time with Jesus.

Secondly, Jesus put his fingers into the manís ears. Then he spat and touched the manís tongue. Some think this is because the man was deaf and this was the only way Jesus could communicate with him, but I doubt that. In Mark 8v22-26, we read of Jesus spitting on a blind man's eyes and laying hands on him, and the blind man wasn't deaf, so communication wasn't why He did it. At other times, Jesus isn't even in the same part of town as the person He heals (see Matthew 8v5-13). But this time, Jesus saw that the man needed a particularly intimate encounter with Him. We don't know why. Some of us might think that another man's saliva on our tongue is the last thing we need. But Jesus knows exactly what we need, and He loves us enough to do it.

Thirdly, Jesus looked up to heaven. He was praying for the man.

Fourthly, Jesus uttered a deep sigh. The Greek word translated "deep sigh" is stenazo. It's translated as "groan" three times in the NIV New Testament. It's also used in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, including groaning in childbirth, groaning for the dead, and groaning with suffering. Jesus's sigh shows us what Hendriksen says in his commentary on this verse, "he was taking this man's condition to heart... Jesus never healed anyone half-heartedly". Calvin says "it was an expression of strong feeling; and this enables us to perceive the vehemence of his love towards men, for whose miseries he feels so much compassion".

When we pray for the sick - and I really hope you do - we must remember that God loves people, and that's why he heals us. God doesn't heal us mechanically, as a response to us phrasing our prayer exactly right, as if He's some sort of arcade game. And he doesn't heal people because we've impressed Him with our faith (or anything else). He heals people because He loves them. And we should share God's compassion for people in need. Prayer isn't about twisting God's arm, it's about releasing His power. He loves to answer prayer.

Fifthly, Jesus said to the man, "be opened!". At this word of command, the man was totally healed!

I know that some Christians and others are healed through prayer and others are not. I know that I don't know all the answers. But I also know that many people are healed - physically, emotionally, spiritually or relationally - through prayer and through the love and mercy of God.

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