Some people brought to [Jesus] 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 man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s 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.” ~ Mark 7:32-37
Jesus could have just healed this man. But first he took him aside, away from the crowd. Jesus then went through some motions–putting his fingers into the man’s ears, touching his tongue–kind of play-acting for the man what was about to happen. Then, after all that, Jesus worked the miracle, and the man’s ears were opened and he became able to speak plainly.
For what reasons might Jesus have done it the way he did? First, perhaps Jesus’ actions calmed the man down. Imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t hear or talk hardly at all, and suddenly a crowd of people hustles you to a man you never met? Might you feel some degree of anxiety? I imagine I would! Perhaps that deaf man who could barely speak was feeling that way, too, and by taking him aside, Jesus was calming him.
But perhaps even more, it seems that Jesus is focusing this man’s attention on him: “I am the One who will do this for you; no one else can do it. Focus on me.”
That is a focus which you and I need on a day-to-day basis. How easily our eyes stray from Jesus! How much we need him to refocus us!
Thankfully, he does that for us. Every time we hear the Word, every time we come to the Lord’s Supper, God is dealing directly with each of us. Each time we read the Bible, God refocuses our attention on Jesus and his love. It’s as if God were taking us aside so that we can set aside the worries of this world and focus on the love of God.
And then our anxiety is calmed, and Jesus’ peace takes its place.
Prayer: O Savior, refocus me! Show me your love, that my anxiety might be driven far away. In your name I pray. Amen.