When Jesus cast the demons out “Legion”, back in Mark chapter 5, the town folk were so amazed they asked Jesus to leave. It was affecting bacon prices. Jesus returns to the area in ch7:31-37 and it is clear that the man he freed has been telling everyone, because a crowd gathers.
In the crowd, some people brought a man was deaf and struggled to speak. It is time for Jesus to make really clear to the disciples that the Kingdom of God is for all – pagans as well as Jews. He draws the deaf and mute man aside, so the disciples can watch and learn.
If a Jew touched a Gentile, it would make them unclean under the old way of doing things. But Jesus has come to seek and save all the lost, including foreigners. He puts his clean Jewish fingers into the dirty pagan ears to make him clean and healed. He puts his pure Jewish spittle on the unclean tongue – again to make him clean and able to speak clearly. Where once touching an unclean person or thing made one unclean, now it’s the other way. People are made clean and whole by touch and faith.
Affliction and suffering are a big deal to Jesus. He is full of compassion. He groans a deep sigh and says “Ephphathra” – the Aramaic for “Be opened” and the man is healed. Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed One, of Gentile Decapolis just as much as of Jewish Galilee.
The word Mark uses for mute “mogilalion” – translated as “could hardly talk” is only used here in the Greek New Testament. And once more in the Greek translation of the Old Testament the Septuagint. It’s used in Isaiah 35:5-6, which is a prophecy of the ministry of the Messiah.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
Hallelujah – Jesus is the Messiah indeed! As Phil Moore has written “Jesus has quite enough crowds already and he wants to be received as King rather than just a worker of kingdom miracles.” But the crowds rejoice, they are amazed and as Matthew describes the scene (Matt 15:31) “they praised the God of Israel.” They now knew that Jesus was the Messiah for Gentile Decapolis as much as for Jewish Judea.
Now that is amazing!