What do you need?
Mark wants you to listen and respond to Jesus. He provides stories that make you challenge your assumptions. Countless times Jesus uses words to perform miracles. He doesn’t need any hocus pocus or magical incantations. Jesus’ authority as the full human and divine Son of God communicates what true humanity had always intended to be.
Mark demonstrates this truth again with Jesus on the road. Jesus encounters a deaf and mute man. Jesus does a whole series of things with the deaf and mute man: He takes him away from the crowd; he points to his ears; he then touches his own tongue, takes his own saliva, and puts it on the man’s tongue; he looks up, sighs, and says, “Be opened!”
What’s so fascinating is that in every miracle we have witnessed, from calming the storm to bringing Jairus’s daughter back to life to the healing of the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, there was no arm-waving, no incantation, no mumbo-jumbo. Jesus obviously does not need to perform a ritual in order to summon his power. Therefore, Jesus is doing all this not because he needs it, but because the man needs it.
Jesus always gives you what you need, and he knows better than you what that is. Jesus deeply identifies with this man. All the touching of his ears, touching his mouth—it’s sign language. Jesus is saying, “Let’s go over here; don’t be afraid, I’m going to do something about that; now let’s look to God.” He comes into the man’s cognitive world and uses terms—nonverbal speech—that he can understand.
Jesus takes the man away from the crowd. Can you imagine growing up in this man’s shoes? He’s always been a spectacle. He’s deaf, and therefore he can’t produce proper speech. Just imagine the way people made fun of him all his life. Jesus refuses to make a spectacle of him now. He is identifying with him.
Jesus identifies with him further; Jesus moans. A moan is an expression of pain. It’s perplexing why Jesus would be in pain because he’s about to heal him. Can you picture Jesus, budding with anticipation, “Look what I’m about to do for you!”
Jesus sees something. Mark deliberately signals the cost to Jesus in healing this man with the word he uses for “deaf and could hardly talk.” Mark uses a word that is found no other place in the Bible except Isaiah 35:5.
Tim Keller explains, “It’s a very rare word, and Mark would have no reason to use it unless he wanted us to cross-reference what’s happening here with Isaiah 35. The prophet Isaiah says this about the Messiah: “‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come . . . with divine retribution . . . to save you.’ Then will the eyes of the blind be open and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:4–6). Mark is saying: Do you see the blind opening their eyes? Do you see the deaf hearing, do you hear the mute tongue shouting for joy? God has come, just as Isaiah 35 promised; God has come to save you. Jesus Christ is God come to save us. Jesus is the King.”
Isaiah says the Messiah will come to save us “with divine retribution.” But Jesus isn’t dropping the hammer on people (picturing Thor or the Hulk Smash). He’s not taking power; he’s giving it away. He’s not standing on what he’s owed. He choosing to model a different way. He’s not taking over the world by force; he’s serving it. Where’s the divine retribution?
And the answer is, Jesus didn’t come to bring divine retribution; he came to bear it. On the cross, Jesus would identify with us totally. And because Jesus identified like that with us, now we know why we can approach him. The Son became mute so that our tongues can be loosed to call him King.
Don’t be too isolated to think you are beyond healing. Don’t be too despondent to accept what God says about how loved you are.