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When Jesus Sighed
Dr. Stephen Johnson
Mark 7:31-37
March 01, 2020

One of my favorite movies is called
“What about Bob”

Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss combine for a hilarious story of a Psychologist, played by Dreyfuss, and his very needy patient, played by Murray.

Dreyfuss is on vacation when his patient finds him - taking Baby Steps - the name of a book by Leo the psychologist.

Bob manages to invade Leo’s life and endear himself to the rest of the family while Leo gets increasingly frustrated.

Bob ends up staying in Leo’s home, becoming great friends with Leo’s son and the night before an important television interview is in the room with Leo’s son, jumping on the bed, loudly making rude comments to one another, driving Leo over the edge.

We catch the scene just as Leo enters the room.

I’ll be quiet,
I’ll be peace.

Silence can often seem to be golden.

But when silence is thrust upon you due to never being able to hear I imagine that silence is anything but golden.

They live in perpetual silence. They don’t seek out a season of silence as a spiritual discipline.
They don’t ask for silence so they can think.
They just hear nothing.

And, because they cannot hear, they have difficulty speaking as well.

They don’t know what the words are supposed to sound like.

In our text for this morning Jesus met such a man. His story if found in Mark 7:31-37


Then he (Jesus) returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.

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.

And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.

And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”

And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.

And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

I want to point you today to three observations or truths from this text.

Great friends lead you to Jesus

Even though this man was unable to hear, he obviously was able to make friends.

Verse 32 reveals much about the man who was brough to Jesus that day.

He couldn’t hear. He could barely speak, but he was loved of those who knew him.
This man may have lived with a disability, but he was blessed because he was loved.

They weren’t just friends, they were great friends.
It ahs been said, friends help you move, good friends help you move bodies, but great friends help move you to Jesus.

This man had great friends.
And there is a wonderful benefit to having great friends.

They bring him to Jesus.

The best thing you can do for a hurting friend is to bring him/her to Jesus

They bring him to Jesus solely for his sake.


We don’t read where any requested anything from Jesus beyond just to have Jesus lay his hands upon their friends. To bless him.

I’d say that although they were great friends, their expectations were rather low.
They didn’t ask for healing.
Just lay your hand upon him.

Later on in our text the people are amazed when the man speaks.

They weren’t expecting a miracle that day.
They were expecting a blessing.

Great friends want you to experience the blessing of God.

And blessed he was.

This man would have never experienced healing without the help of his friends.
They were the ones that Mark tells us that begged Jesus to touch him.
They were the ones that took the time to lead him, direct him, pay his way and use their voices, their resources and their time to get him to Jesus.

They put themselves on the line for this deaf man. Their love, respect and care for him is inspirational.

Throughout history, people have formed networks of friends; safety net.
Nowadays, because of technology, we can click a button to add someone as a friend without ever meeting that person.
And we are more isolated from one another even though our Facebook account may say we’ve got loads of friends.

Connecting online is not the same as connecting in person.
The biblical mandate to “not forsake the gathering together of believers” points to the need for great friends who will help move us towards Jesus.

When we fail to associate with others, we are denying part of being human.

This touching story is found only here in Mark's Gospel. And it's worth noting that this poor, deaf man had the right kind of friends.

He had the kind of friends all of us need to be.
Great friends who brought him to Jesus.

One of the greatest aspects of this story is that it shows us how much we need one another and much we need to be looking out for one another. We need to be looking after one another - physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. We need to take the time to slow down and help one another.

There is a wonderful benefit to having great friends.
Who is your great friend?
Who are you a great friend to?

Of course our text goes on as Jesus responds to the request brought before him.

Great friends lead you to Jesus because

Jesus is full of compassion

Verse 33-34
“Taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him “Ephphatha” that is “Be opened.”

When reading these two verses it is easy for us to get stuck on that unusual word “Ephphatha”

How do you pronounce it?
Why is it there?
That word is not the main focus of this text.
It’s an Aramaic word - probably the language spoken in that area and no one really knows why the Holy Spirit prompted Mark to include it here since he immediately gives us its translation.

What is important here is what Jesus did, and what he said is only marginally important.

He took this man aside. He dealt with him privately.

He put his fingers in the mans ears.
He spit - most commentators suggest he spit on his finger - and reached out and touched the man’s tongue.

He didn’t have to do any of that! In the tet right before this, he heals a girl not even in the room with him.

He could have just spoken a word and the man would have been healed.
He could have just put his hand on his shoulder and he would have been healed.

But he puts his fingers in the man’s ears, spits on his finger and touches his tongue.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want anyone sticking their fingers in my ears. Spitting on their finger and touching my tongue.

No thank you.

But this man allowed Jesus to do these things probably expecting they would bring healing.

But that is not when the healing happens.

The healing happens with verse 34.

Looking up to heaven, he sighed...

There is something powerful about those last two words.
Jesus sighed.

He has a deep compassion for the state of mankind.
Jesus understands our situation

There are all different kinds of sighs. There’s a sigh of relief when the doctor tells us that the tumor is benign. There’s a sigh of fatigue after we’ve finished a long, hard job. And there is the sigh of anguish and grief when someone we care about is no longer with us.

Sighing is part of the human condition.

We sigh over happy events and we sigh over sad events.
The sigh described here is a hybrid of frustration and sadness. It lies somewhere between a fit of anger and a burst of tears.

The apostle Paul spoke of this sighing. Twice he said that Christians will sigh as long as we are on earth and long for heaven. The creation sighs as if she were giving birth.
Even the Spirit sighs as he interprets our prayers. (Romans 8:22-27)

The sigh of Jesus assures us that God cares.
That God understands.
That he is full of compassion.
That he groans for the day when all sighs will cease.
The day when what was intended to be will be.

Jesus sighed.

This is a deep emotion that says more than words.

Max Lucado says this:

He sighed. It seems out of place. I never thought of God as one who sighs. I have thought of God as one who commands light out of darkness. One who speaks, and fish fill the sea, birds fill the sky.

I have thought of the scene in Bethany and see a God who weeps at the death of Lazarus. I’ve thought of God as one who calls forth the dead with a command….but a God who sighs?

When Jesus looked into the eyes of this man, Jesus knew that this deafness, like other diseases and death itself are the consequence of the “Fall” of humanity in the Garden of Eden.
He knew that God never intended life to be this way.

He sighed. “Your ears weren’t made to be deaf, your tongue wasn’t made to stumble.” The Master sighed. He came to set things right.

When Jesus sighed….his sigh tells us that God knows our condition.”

He is full of compassion.

God cares when we are in pain. God sighs because out of love for us He knows this world is not what He intended.

His sigh speaks to the depth of his compassion towards us. Jesus cares. That’s why he came to earth.

How we long for the day when there is no more sighing!

The day when the depth of Christ’ compassion for us is fully revealed and we are set free from the bonds of this life.

Great friends bring people to Jesus because Jesus is full of compassion

And something happens when we meet Jesus.
We see it in our text.

When you meet Jesus you can’t stop talking about him.

Imagine the scene. Everyone there knows that this man was brought to Jesus unable to hear and speaking only with an impediment.

He was hardly understandable.
You had to communicate with him through pointing or some type of sign language.

But he comes back from his private meeting with Jesus and he spoke plainly.

This is amazing.
It is as though I had a private conversation with Jesus and came back with a good sense of humor, always appropriate for Sunday morning and never belittling cats.
Actually it was much more powerful than that.
And everyone knew it.

The text says they were astonished beyond measure.

And Jesus told them not to talk about it.

But they couldn’t simply help themselves.

We don’t know why Jesus didn’t want them talking about this.
Maybe he didn’t want a false concept of him as only a miracle worker to spread.
But even with Jesus telling them to tell no on they couldn’t help themselves.

The more he insisted, the more they proclaimed his wonderful deeds.

When you meet Jesus, you can’t stop talking about him.

When Jesus has touched us, we can’t resist telling others

Seven hundred years earlier Isaiah prophesied: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” (Isaiah 35:5-6)

Those present may not have remembered the words of Isaiah, but this they knew, Jesus healed this deaf man and opened his mouth to shout for joy.

And their conclusion:

Jesus has done all things well.

We are reminded of Genesis 1:31 where God saw all that he made and it was very good.

As I studied this text I wondered at the disobedience of the crowds in continuing to spread the news of Jesus after he told them not to.

And as surely as he could open the mouth of this man he could have closed the mouths of all who ignored his request.

He may have preferred that people not talk about what he had done that day, but he understood human nature.

When you have met Jesus, you can’t stop talking about him.

Talking about him is the natural, human result of God acting on our behalf.

Great friends lead you to Jesus because Jesus is full of compassion.
And when you meet Jesus, you can’t stop talking about him.



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