Why Did Jesus Do That?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue.

Mark 7:33

Mark 7:32-35 is a short healing story in which Jesus healed a man who was deaf and who also had a speech impediment (which often happens with people who lose their hearing at an early age). The fact that Jesus healed a deaf man is not especially surprising given what he has already accomplished in the Gospel of Mark, including the raising of a girl who had died (5:35-43). But the manner of Jesus’ healing in this story is unusual, even perplexing. Rather than simply telling the man to be healed or touching him, Jesus took him away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, and then, strangest of all, spit on his fingers and touched the man’s tongue. Why did Jesus do that?

I’ve heard sermons and read biblical commentaries that answer this question. Some think Jesus was trying to let the man know what he was about to do. Others see Jesus as underscoring God’s authority to heal. Still others note that saliva was believed to have healing powers in the culture of Jesus. However, nobody really knows why Jesus did such an odd thing in this story. Surely he had his reasons, but we can only guess at them.

When I read this story in Mark, I’m reminded of the limits of my understanding. I’m humbled by remembering just how much I don’t understand about Jesus. May God protect me from pretending to know what I don’t know, or what cannot be known this side of heaven.

We can know for sure several things on the basis of Mark 7:32-35. We can know that God, working in Jesus, has the power to heal. We also know that God treats each of us as individuals. He deals with us according to our unique situation, personality, and needs. Our God is not a cookie-cutter Savior!

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What do you do when you can’t understand something in the Bible? Are you comfortable with saying that you don’t know something about Jesus? Why or why not? How have you experienced God’s care for you in a personal way?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I look forward to the day when I will see you face to face. Perhaps I’ll be able to ask you why you treated this deaf man in such an unusual way. Then again, perhaps questions like this won’t matter much when I’m in your presence.

Lord, there is much about you that I don’t understand. This story reminds me of my lack of knowledge and wisdom when it comes to your character and actions. Help me, I pray, to understand you more deeply and truly. In this process, may I be honest with you and with others when I don’t understand. And if there are things that are simply not mine to know, may I be satisfied to see you dimly, as in a mirror, knowing that one day I will see you face to face.

Thank you, dear Lord, for treating me as an individual. Thank you for working in my life in a unique way that reflects who I am. How good you are to me! Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.