The Healing of the Deaf and Mute | Mark 7:31–37
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Jesus remains in Gentile territory as He heads back southward. This would have been an odd route, apparently avoiding Galilee. He arrives in the region of Decapolis, the ten cities, where He healed the man with the legion of demons (5:1–20). As such, the people there were perhaps anticipating the arrival of Jesus.
Notice the compassion of the Lord. He doesn’t want to spark a public ministry in the region (v. 36), but He heals those who come to Him. In this case, Jesus touches the man, even though He doesn’t need to. He indicates to the deaf man what He was about to do by touching his hears and tongue.
He then sighs. Matthew Henry notes, “He sighed; not as if he found any difficulty in working this miracle, or obtaining power to do it from his father; but thus he expressed his pity for the miseries of human life, and his sympathy with the afflicted in their afflictions, as one that was himself touched with the feeling of their infirmities.”
Notice the inability of the man. He couldn’t hear Jesus’s command or confess his faith, and he, of course, lacked the capacity to turn back his handicap in obedience. Yet, Christ’s Word is able to work on Its own, and the nerves and receptors within the man were regenerated. Christ worked the miracle entirely, from His fingers and saliva to His Word—He alone brings healing and restoration.
Notice the unity of the people (vv. 36–37). Matthew 15:30–31 says, “And great crowds came to him… and he healed them, 31 so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.” Jesus’s disciples were amazed and they see Gentiles praising God—what a wonderful foretaste of their inclusion and future unity in Christ!