August 8th 2021: John Mann

Mark 7:31-37: A Saving Appointment with the Lord Jesus Christ

The gospels are filled with the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he confirmed the truth of who He claimed to be and who He is. We thank God for the accounts of the many miracles of Jesus that we read about and learn from.

As Jesus travelled through the area where He was, we read of many miracles. In chapter 5 we read of Jesus travelling through the region of the Gerasenes and we read of the healing of the demoniac who lived among the graves. Jesus healed that man. There is no other mention of anything else done in that particular account, no other incidents there.

 Immediately Jesus gets back in the boat and travels across the lake and there he meets with another two individuals who are in need: Jairus and his daughter who had died, and the woman who had suffered a bleed for twelve years. Jesus deals with them both. The woman is healed and Jairus’ daughter is brought back from the dead. There are no other mentions of other incidents in that particular area.

In chapter 7 Jesus travels another 30 miles, may be on foot, to Syro-Phoenicia and heals a Syro-Phoenician woman. There is no other mention of any other healing here. It seems that Jesus is keeping appointments with people to heal. He seeks out those who need His healing touch. At the same time, we realise these people have to be where Jesus is coming to find Him. They are desperate for answers, they want to find Jesus, only to find that He was ready to meet their need.

Salvation begins with people feeling the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. In loving kindness Jesus responds. He brings forgiveness and healing. The Lord Jesus Christ has called us to Himself. We find in salvation, He has come for us, granted us healing and deliverance from our sin. Have you had a personal appointment with the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you sought Him out?

Jesus is on His way back to the Decapolis. We have to ask ourselves why he would go back. His first visit hardly felt like a needy return. The people pleaded with Him to leave. He wasn’t welcome. Aren’t you glad that Jesus didn’t leave you when you first rejected Him? Aren’t you so grateful He never gave up on you? Jesus returned because He had an appointment. This should fill us with hope for loved ones who reject Him. He is able to save and to heal. Jesus is still saying, ‘I have an appointment with that person.’

This return visit will be different (v37). It is only the amazing loving kindness and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ can turn ‘Get out of our region’ to ‘He has done well.’ In verse 32 we see another person in desperate need, a man who is deaf and has lost the ability to speak. He lives in an isolated, silent world of his own, relying on others for his daily needs. In their care they take him to where Jesus is. The deaf and mute man must have been confused, wondering where they were taking him. He can see others are excited but doesn’t know why. His problem has cut him off from society.

Here is a picture of our spiritual condition before we know the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you remember a time when you were deaf to the gospel? When your physical ears heard but your spiritual ears were deaf? A time when the gospel went in through one ear and out through the other in spiritual deafness? This results in spiritual muteness, having nothing to say about the Lord Jesus Christ, no time to praise Him, being cut off from God. Our spiritual condition meant we could understand what it was all about. Sadly, in many of our churches this morning, the gospel goes in one ear and out of another. There is a world of difference between hearing and understanding.

The beauty of this miracle is Jesus came to open the lines of communication of our spiritual ears. The gospel is the truth. But in our natural condition we are deaf to its meaning unless we come to Christ. Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit, our ears are opened. We become hearers and experiencers of the gospel.

People took the time to take this deaf man to Jesus. Do you give thanks to people who lead you to the man who could heal you, when Jesus said to you personally, “Ephphatha! Be opened.”

These are pictures of the need of our day. The people had a heart to bring someone to Christ. Are we among the ‘some people’ bringing others to Jesus, or bringing Jesus to others through our testimony, our lives, our witness? We are called to reach our loved ones and neighbours by our testimony. How determined are we to take others to Jesus?

Do we notice how serious these people are? They begged Jesus to heal him (v.32). They believed Him. Are we begging Jesus to save others in our community? They were determined for him to know the healing power of Jesus. Can you imagine the man’s joy when Jesus heals him? Suddenly he hears for the first time. Are you filled with joy when you hear someone has been saved? There is joy for the deaf man and joy for the men who took him to Jesus. Do you thank God for the people who went out of their way to bring you to Jesus?

Jesus took the man aside (v33). Here we see this personal aspect of salvation. We are not forgiven as a group. Jesus wants a personal relationship. He takes us out of the crowd to have a personal appointment with Him. Jesus draws us aside from the company of others, from the distractions all around us. He says, ‘Will you accept me as your own Lord and Saviour?’

Then Jesus does this unusual thing. “Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spat and touched the man’s tongue.” (Mark 7:33). Why does Jesus do these strange actions? Jesus deals with each of us according to our own need. We come with our individual fears and doubts. What is the best way to connect with a deaf man? Sign language. Jesus touches the man’s ears and lips. He knows what the problem is, and He knows what the answer is. This would have caused many to resist, but not this man. He accepts the Lord Jesus Christ without turning away.

There are many people who know something is missing from their lives and may come looking to Jesus for an answer, but who are not willing to come without reserve. They want to be healed but not have an intimate relationship with a Saviour. They have missed the opportunity to be saved. But not this man. Whatever Jesus decided to do, this man puts his faith in Him. In this miracle, it is almost as if Jesus is kissing away the problem. We need to place ourselves into the hands of the only one who can heal our spiritual need.

Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed deeply when he said, “Ephphatha.” He has a deep love and concern in his heart for this man as He looks to heaven for his healing. He sighs with the same compassion He has for every one of us. Our healing is His passion. Salvation is the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why He came, that is why He was willing to suffer the scorn, the mocking, the rejection, the beating, the crucifixion and having God’s wrath poured out upon Him – because His passion is to save souls and to make us well. This is what Peter says, ‘He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.’

If you are a believer this morning, it is not through anything you have been able to offer, nothing that you have done, no righteousness of your own. This deaf man had no possibility, not a hope of healing himself. There was nothing that he could bring to Jesus, that Jesus could say, ‘Well, I’ll help you, you’ve gone so far I’ll bring you the rest of the way.’ The man was helpless, powerless and hopeless, just as we are, outside of Christ. There is nothing we can bring whereby we can say, ‘I’ve made a contribution.’

We are totally dependent on the mercy and grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can just imagine what the man was saying when he began to speak (v.35). He would be speaking His praise. Jesus came and suffered and died so people like you and me could have our ears unblocked, to have our dead hearts brought to life.

Have you known a saving, personal appointment with Jesus? What words are on your lips?

May 13th 2018: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-May18John 9

This chapter is a continuation of chapter 8. In the last verses of chapter 8 Jesus was about to be stoned. Here, in chapter 9, at the temple gates sat a blind man begging. As Jesus made His way out of the temple He saw this man. If we were escaping for our lives, would we have stopped to help this man?

Jesus ‘saw.’ It wasn’t just a casual glance but an intent look at this individual. However, the disciples saw him merely as an object of their curiosity. Back then, blindness was looked upon as a penalty of sin. They asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1). It was a mystery to them. Was it this man’s fault or the fault of his parents?

Friends, how do we see people’s lives around us? Do we notice them or are we in such a hurry, we don’t notice? How easy is it to pass them by or judge them, lifting ourselves above them? Jesus noticed all those around Him who were suffering – so should we notice those who suffer and be concerned for others who suffer. We need to spend time with them.

Jesus answers the disciples’ question saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the work of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3). It was God’s will that this man be born blind and that when Jesus came by He would heal Him and God’s work would be revealed. We have all been created by God in a particular way for His glory and honour.

This is a very important passage. It takes up a whole chapter in John’s gospel. Now is the time for us to work for Christ, to serve Him. Now is the appointed time. Jesus is the light of the world. He saw the world in darkness; only He could bring light into people’s lives. The blind beggar had a miserable life – he could only do very little. But Jesus changed all that, He changed his life. Jesus came to give sight to the blind and heal the broken-hearted.

Why did the Lord heal the blind man in this way? It is very unusual. Very often Jesus just spoke the word or touched the person to heal them. But this time He spat on the ground and made mud out of His saliva and put it on the blind man’s eyelids. He then told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam (John (9:7). Christ did this for a reason. He did this to reveal spiritual truth. Why the mud? It could be to reveal that the healing came from Christ Himself. Mud – sin has blinded us from spiritual truth. The mud / mess had to be removed from the blind man’s face for him to see. It required obedience from the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.

Here we have a wonderful picture of salvation. Those who are spiritually blind do not see themselves as blind. We see this in the Pharisees’ reaction (John 9:40). That’s the problem with spiritual blindness, it is deceptive. The man is the ideal example of one born blind, not knowing Jesus. Having had mud applied to his eyes, he was told to wash. When he heard the word of God he could have argued and asked why he had to go to the pool and wash his face. He could have objected and gone home to wash. Yet he went in obedience.

If we’re to be cleansed from our sin, we must go to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the cross. The blood that was shed for us cleanses our sin.

John translates the pool of Siloam as meaning ‘sent.’ (John 9:7). He takes us back to the days of Jerusalem, to the days of Hezekiah when a tunnel was dug to bring fresh water into the city. This pool received water sent from the outside. Jesus is the one ‘sent’ from God, who is able to wash away our sin.

As the passage goes on, the man becomes closes to the Lord Jesus Christ until he enters full salvation, whereas the Pharisees become increasingly hardened to the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens today – people either draw nearer to the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is spoken or become more hardened.

When the man returned home after washing in the pool of Siloam his neighbours questioned whether or not this was the same person. Some said no, it just looked like him. He made it clear it was him and tells them how he received his sight. He makes it very clear what has taken place. There’s a difference in his life. Jesus made a difference. Yet they find it difficult to understand, it is so unusual, something like this just didn’t happen.

The man was extremely joyful, yet the others cannot enter into it, it is beyond their understanding. When someone is converted there is a complete change of lifestyle – others cannot understand it. The neighbours take him to the Pharisees, the religious leaders. Then we have a kind of trial taking place. We would hope they would have an open mind, find and acknowledge the truth that has taken place. However, they don’t want to give glory to God.

The Pharisees are biased because of their unbelief. They forget the man and what’s been done because it was done on the Sabbath, claiming, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” (John 9:16). Others argued He must be from God because the blind man could now see. There was division among them. So they ask the man himself, who explains what Jesus has done. But they don’t want to listen to his testimony so they then ask his parents. They are afraid of the Pharisees, of being cast out of the synagogue, so they respond by saying ask their son because he is of age and can be questioned. As this discussion moves on it moves back to the man. The Pharisees try to put words in his mouth (v.24).

The man’s answer to the questioning is amazing. Right at the start, when his neighbours asked him how he received his sight, he said Jesus had done this. When the Pharisees asked him, he spoke of Jesus as – ‘a prophet.’ (v.17). His understanding of Jesus is increasing. When they say to him again, his answer is, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25). They then get into an argument.

We see this man growing in boldness, arguing his case – Jesus is from God. It ends with him being thrown out of the temple, on his own. But he is not on his own for the Lord Jesus came and found him. Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (John 9:35). He asks who He is. He now wants to believe in Him. Jesus replies, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking to you.” (John 9:37). His response, “Lord, I believe! And he worshipped Him.” (John 9:38). The man who was once blind now has full recognition of Jesus, his Lord. We see the process of him drawing closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all seeking to come closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others about Him, to argue against others who want to put Him down. The Pharisees were on a road further and further away from the Lord.

What path are we on? If it is on the path of the man who received his sight, we will eventually spend all eternity with Christ. Might this passage challenge us and may we rejoice, saying, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).