Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 12, 2015

He can do great things for us too

            In his Gospel Mark describes how people were astonished at the work Jesus was doing among them. On one occasion Jesus healed a man of deafness and muteness. People were amazed, Mark says. And they paid a beautiful tribute to Jesus. They said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

            That is what the people said. Mark is even more complimentary of Jesus. Sharing one story after another, Mark writes convincingly of the compassion and the amazing power of Jesus. His aim is clear:  to persuade his readers that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, the long awaited Messiah.

            As Mark describes it, the power of Jesus is unlimited. Sometimes his healing power is released through his touch; at other times through his spoken word. And sometimes he even heals people who are in another location when he wills their healing.

For example, Mark tells one dramatic incident of Jesus delivering a poor Gentile woman’s daughter from a demon. Amazingly, he frees the little girl from the demon without seeing her or touching her. He willed her deliverance – and it was done. When the mother returned home, she found her daughter well.

            On the other hand, Jesus touched the ears and the tongue of the deaf man, commanding the man’s ears to “be opened.” The power of his touch, and of his spoken word, result in the man’s complete healing.    

            Before healing the daughter of the Gentile woman, Jesus engages her in an intriguing conversation. What Jesus says to the woman is rather surprising. He implies that she is but a dog. This is puzzling to say the least.

            If we are offended by the words of Jesus, the woman is not. She understands, as a Gentile woman, what Jesus is saying. Gentiles were commonly referred to as “dogs” by the Jews.

            The woman takes the straight talk of Jesus in stride and reveals a bold spirit in her response. Instead of taking offense at the word “dogs,” she uses the idea to make her point with Jesus: “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

            In humility she is saying, “Sir, go ahead and feed the children of Israel first, but while you are doing it, allow us who are Gentiles to have the crumbs under the table.”

            Jesus responds quickly; he is impressed with the woman’s faith. This is a woman on a mission for her daughter. She will not quit; she has spunk and courage. Eugene Peterson, in The Message, has Jesus saying to the woman: “You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.” When the mother got home she found her daughter relaxed and well, no longer tormented.

            There is a great lesson in this story for us. Jesus rewarded the woman’s bold faith by healing her daughter. We can ask God to give us bold faith. We can refuse to give up so easily to the problems we encounter and take our petitions boldly to the throne of grace. 

            We can refuse to put Jesus “in a box” when it comes to the ways he heals people. Some he touched; some he did not. To some he offered forgiveness of sin; to others he did not. He heals people who are present with him; he heals sick persons who are in other places. This teaches us that the healing is not in the methods employed but in the Person of Jesus. And we have the honor of knowing and relating to Jesus as a Person, the Risen Savior of the world.

            Jesus realized the deaf man needed his touch so he put his fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue. Moreover he “commanded” the ears to open. Immediately the man was healed. He could hear. He could speak plainly.

            What Jesus did for the deaf man, he remains able to do for us. If we allow him to “do everything well” in our lives, he may open our ears so we can truly hear what God is saying to us.

            Some of us who are tongue-tied and timid may need to ask him to touch our tongues. He has the power to release us from our reticence to witness and enable us to speak plainly to others all that he has done for us. He can heal us of our inability, or unwillingness, to praise him with our lips as well as our lives.

            If we invite Jesus to heal our inadequacies, so that we may both hear and speak well, then we can make the crowd’s tribute to Jesus our own song of praise: Jesus does everything well! He did great things for people long ago – and he does great things for us in these days! +  +  +