Sunday, 8 January 2017

When Someone’s World Opens

‘Ephphatha' ..... "Be opened!”  (Mark 7:34)

Everyone knows what it is to wrestle with the lid of a long-shut vault or box … and the relief when the catch springs open at last.  Here, it was Christ’s uttering of a single word that opened up the hearing and speech of a deaf-mute.  To open up a person is much harder than opening a box! But this is the very ministry of Jesus.  In the deaf-mute’s case, there was:

The incarnate touch (v.33)

Contact – this is God’s style.  The baby in a manger, God by the seaside, God eating fish, God at a wedding, God in tears, God sleeping in a boat – and here – putting his fingers into a man’s ears and touching his tongue.

The Lord who deals with the whirling constellations of the universe can also come alongside someone in hospital, a prisoner in Iran, a child in Syria - and touch that one precious life. 

The fact that he involves us in this incarnational ministry of personal contact is a breathtaking privilege.

The heavenward look (v.34)

‘He looked up to heaven.’  For the man who had no hearing, that look was a visual aid.  It was saying ‘That is where the authority lies for this thing that is about to happen – it’s all coming from above.’  The same action occurred outside the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41) and at the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:41).  When it is heaven that is at work, people become ‘overwhelmed with amazement’ (v.37).  The Greek expression is huperperissos. We might say, ‘They were mega-astonished.’  

The earthbound sigh (v.34)

Learn from the sighs of Jesus (Mark 8:12; John 11:33).  He seems to sigh, either at the unbelief of his listeners, or just before performing a mighty deed.  This says something about the costliness of his earthbound ministry.  In a sense, Jesus’ whole life was a sigh.  Be encouraged, then, if much Christian service shares in the sighs of Jesus.

The authoritative word (v.34)

It only takes a word, and a man’s life opens up.  In a sense this was only a prototype, a model of what was to follow in the long Gospel story.

Ephphatha! – and India opens up to the apostle Thomas.  Ephphatha! – and England opens to Augustine.  Ephphatha! – and Ireland opens up to  Patrick.  Ephphatha! – and Livingstone enters Africa.  A touch, a look, a sigh and a word from Him – and the sky is the limit as to what opens up for a country or indeed a family ... anywhere.