Sermon Summary and Discussion Questions | "A Beautiful, Unusual Miracle"

Outline:

1. Jesus’s Ministry in the Region of Decapolis (7:31-32)

2. Jesus’s Unusual Manner of Ministry (7:33-35)

3. Jesus’s Exhortation for the People to Remain Silent (7:36-37)

Summary:

1. Jesus’s Ministry in the Region of Decapolis (7:31-32)

Following his interaction with the Syrophoenician woman and the healing of her daughter (7:24-30), Jesus now continues his ministry among the Gentiles in the region of Decapolis (7:31). This is the second instance Mark records of Jesus’s visit to this particular area, and it stands in stark contrast to his first visit. In chapter 5 we are told of Jesus’s exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, resulting in the people being afraid of Jesus and begging him to leave (5:17). However, it is quite possible that through the faithful witnessing of the Gerasene man, Jesus’s fame spread throughout the Decapolis (cf. Edwards, Mark. PNTC, 223). Therefore, in 7:31-32 we see quite the opposite reaction from the people when Jesus arrives a second time. The people come to Jesus and “beg” him to heal a deaf man who can hardly talk (7:32).

2. Jesus’s Unusual Manner of Ministry (7:33-35)

In verses 33-35 Mark describes both the act of Jesus’s healing (vv33-34) and the result (v35). There are six actions used to describe Jesus’s healing of the deaf and mute man. These actions, which perhaps show the unusual manner of Jesus’s ministry, are employed as a form of communication. The actions indicated to the man that he was to expect a work of healing (cf. Lane, Mark, 267). Jesus first pulls aside the man, removing him from the crowd to signify his uniqueness. Second, Jesus spits and touches the man’s tongue. This specific act was used as a sign in other healings in this time period. Third, Jesus puts his fingers in the ear of the man, signifying the act of healing his deafness. Fourth, Jesus looks up, showing that the power to heal comes from God alone. Fifth, Jesus sighs, displaying his response to the effects of the fall. The sixth and final action is Jesus command, “Ephphatha!” (be opened!). By merely speaking the man is healed, displaying the authority and power of Jesus.

3. Jesus’s Exhortation for the People to Remain Silent (7:36-37)

In verses 36-37 we see that Jesus’s act of healing, in this instance, was immediate and effectual. The man’s ears were opened and “the chain of his mouth” was loosed (7:36). Moreover, he charges the crowd to keep silent, so that he would not become known as a mere “Hellenistic miracle worker” (Lane, Mark, 268). But the people disregard the charge to remain quiet, and instead they begin proclaiming his fame all the more.

The story concludes on a note of faith, revealing the messianic significance and identity of Jesus. Mark describes the crowd’s confession of faith by alluding to the Old Testament. There are two aspects of their confession: First, it is said that "he has done all things well." This perhaps alludes Gen 1:31, where God looks at his creation and calls it “very good.” Thus, here Mark is showing that Jesus is God the Son, who brings a new creation, remaking all things! Secondly, the healing of the deaf and mute man is certainly an allusion to Isaiah 35, where the prophet looks forward and celebrates the future coming of God, who will save his people (Isa 35:4) and restore a new creation (Isa 35:6b-10). At the arrival of God and his kingdom, he will open the eyes of the blind, unstop the deaf ears, and the tongue of the mute person will sing for joy (Isa 35:5-6). With this OT allusion Mark makes clear that God has come in the person and work of Jesus, the promised Messiah. This story of the deaf and mute man, who was healed reveals the inbreaking of God’s kingdom. God has come through Jesus to save his people and restore a new creation! This is the good news of the gospel!

Discussion Questions:

1. At the end of his sermon, C.J. mentioned how this passage should encourage us to praise God in the midst of prosperity or adversity. Where are you presently (prosperity or adversity?), and what are some things you can praise God for? How can we as a community group pray and give praise to God with you?

2. C.J. explained how the physical deafness of the man points us to the deeper reality of our spiritual deafness. Who do you know in your sphere of relationships that is still “deaf” to the gospel? How does this passage apply to our own lives as well as the lives of those who need to hear the gospel?

3. C.J. quoted the scholar William Lane, who stated that Mark’s allusion to the Old Testament describes Gods “promised intervention.” What passage in the OT does Mark allude to? How does this allusion show that Jesus’s ministry is connected with the OT? Why is this important?