“There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. . . 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” (Mark 7:32-34).
Though Jesus met people randomly in his travels, and many sought him out , the gospels tell us some sought Jesus for what he could do for others.
You’d think that would be a good thing, but Mark has another point to make.
I can only think of one case where someone was invited to come hear what Jesus had to say. And yet, Jesus’ ministry was intended to be more about teaching people how to live than helping them through the rough patches of their lives. The Lord did both of course, but like raising people from the dead, his miracles were only temporary. Other illnesses would come, and so too would death. But what Jesus had to say would be of eternal benefit.
Here, faced with yet another plaintive plea for healing, Jesus, with a bit of exasperation – that’s that sighing deeply part – consents. And people are “overwhelmed with amazement” and speak glowingly of his work. Yet Mark tells us they paid no attention to what Jesus said (see verse 36).
It’s not the first time Mark makes this observation. It won’t be the last. The message is subtle but vital: turning to Jesus in moments of crisis may be wise. But wiser still is to listen to what he has to say, and obey.