Today’s meditation begins a little differently. Because the meditation will take more time, your suggested resolution for today is at the beginning!
Resolution: I resolve to read and meditate on Mark 7:24-37 today.
Does any one of you have Jeremiah 38:12 memorized? I didn’t think so!
When I was in junior high and my oldest brother Paul was in high school, he and his best friend Scott McLarty were into all kinds of weird fun. They made 8 mm films together and wrote a school musical-comedy called “West Wing Story.”
One day, I don’t remember the exact occasion, they decided to tape record a dramatic reading of a random Bible verse, maybe imitating certain preachers they had heard who randomly selected a single verse to preach from.
The verse they chose: Jeremiah 38:12. “And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. . . . And Jeremiah . . . did so.”
Now you may be thinking: “What in the world does this verse have to do with me!”
And you’d be right to ask. My point is that it’s not just the oddball passages such as Jeremiah 38:12 that are difficult to apply to our lives: even passages whose meaning to us is clear are still difficult to apply. We might say to ourselves “That’s good for them, but what does it have to do with me?”
What about the Gospel lesson this morning, in which a deaf and dumb man was healed?
We can all rejoice that a deaf and dumb man was healed 2000 years ago in a place called Decapolis. We can all affirm that God is speaking to us through this biblical text and this miracle.
But what does God intend it to mean to me today, in my life? To determine this is to step into the “moral” or “tropological” interpretation of the Bible. In applying the Bible to our lives, we have a constant need to interpret the Scriptures beyond the original, literal meaning to our contemporary lives.
Imagine that you are the deaf and dumb man, but to help you do this, you may want to know a little about where you live. You live in a place called Decapolis, on the East side of the Jordan River, East of the Sea of Galilee and North of Perea. It’s not too far from Galilee or Nazareth. The name Decapolis means “10 cities,” and Greek settlers formed a league there to work together under Roman rule. Mostly Gentiles lived there. The region included Damascus, where Saul of Tarsus was transformed into St. Paul. It also included Gadara, where Jesus healed a man possessed by Legion and another demon-possessed man. At one point large crowds from Decapolis followed Jesus.
You might imagine that your are near steep terrain
At this point in the meditation, READ (again) Mark 7:31-37. Read it with this background in mind, imagining that you are the deaf and dumb man that Jesus heals.
Next, we’re going to meditate on the same passage, only now we have the difficult task of translating this healing into the healing that God intends for each of us today.
You’re not physically deaf and dumb in this meditation, and God doesn’t always promise physical healing, or else we would never die. Instead, God desires to heal each of you spiritually this morning. This same Jesus who just healed the deaf and dumb man desires to heal you of your spiritual deafness and dumbness. Your healing won’t be immediate, and yet God promises that if you turn to Him, it will begin today.
Imagine that you are you exactly as you are now (this shouldn’t be too hard!) But you’ve got a problem – not physical deafness and dumbness, but a spiritual deafness and dumbness. You don’t hear God’s Word as you should. Maybe you don’t take up your Bible every day. You could come to Sunday school to hear God’s Word explained and applied, but you choose not to. Maybe you claim you don’t need to or you’re one of the people who tells himself he has better things to do. Maybe you don’t even truly know God.
You might be afraid of what God will make you change in your life if you really listen to Him. You’re clinging too much to your own power and don’t want to answer God, out of fear He will tell you He’s in charge. Or you’ve ignored Him for so long that you can barely hear Him, and when you do, you find it easy to ignore Him.
Yet, He still comes at night. You hear Him when He speaks through the mouths and lives of other Christians. But you are growing spiritually deaf and dumb and have almost forgotten what it’s like to really hear the Word of God and the voice of God.
You’ve got another problem: you’re spiritually dumb. Your mouth still speaks, but too often it is out of self-interest. You speak partial truths and distortions, and it seems like your tongue speaks of everything but God.
Because you cannot or will not hear the Word of God you find you can’t speak His language either. You’ve forgotten the language of praise. You’ve forgotten the language of thanksgiving and slip into the language of self and complaining.
But now you’re tired of this deafness and dumbness, and you come to Jesus, maybe with the encouragement of your spouse or some Christian friends, or even a Christian author. You decide to come to Jesus to do something about this problem. You’ve gotten to the point that you know something is wrong and that you can’t fix it yourself.
In fact, you are the problem.
And then you see Jesus Himself.
It might be Him speaking to you in His Word, the Bible; it might be in the sermon or a Bible study or in Sunday school; it might be as you prepare to come to partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Holy Communion; and it might be Him dwelling in another Christian. But He comes to you.
You aren’t sure what to say – you’re not even sure you really want to go through with it. But you’ve come this far, and it’s really what you want.
You look at Jesus, and you feel guilty for not coming earlier and not staying to listen to Him, as well as the sensation of a possible hope and joy of healing beyond anything you’ve felt before. You move toward Him. He reaches out to you and takes you aside out of the multitude so He can speak to you alone.
And this is what Jesus says when you come back to Him for spiritual healing:
“I’m glad you’ve finally come back to Me. For your sake, don’t wait so long next time. Your faith is beginning to make you well. By coming to me I will begin to open your ears so that you can hear Me again. I will begin to loosen your tongue so that you can speak thanksgiving and not complaining. I will loosen your tongue so that you can bring Me the thanksgiving for which you were created, instead of speaking as if you have given yourself all these good things.
Come with Me, and I will teach you again the language of love and joy, of praise and thanksgiving. Every time you come to Me, I will heal you further. But every time you choose not to come to Me when I have reminded you, you will grow more and more deaf and dumb again.
This is how I choose to heal you spiritually in my Kingdom.
Come to Me for spiritual healing, whoever you and wherever you are.
Some of you hear and speak my language but want to see and say more. Some of you once knew my language but by isolating yourself from Me, your spiritual hearing and speaking are weak. Some of you need to come to Me for that special, initial healing. You need to come to completely give up your sickness of self and selfishness. You need Me to open your ears and mouth for the first time.
Come, whoever you are and wherever you are. Come now, and give up yourself. Give up the pride and laziness and idolatry to the world, and I will teach you my heavenly language of love of God and spiritual health.
Come – Be Open!”
Prayer: Jesus, I come to you today, spiritually deaf and dumb. Call me to Yourself, and give me the grace to respond with obedience. Open my ears that I may hear wonderful things in Your Law, and open my tongue that I may praise and thank You all the days of my life. Amen.
Jesus Healing the Deaf and Dumb Man – U.S. Public Domain