Only Mark records Jesus Christ's healing of the deaf-mute man (Mark 7:31-37), though Matthew refers to it generally (Matthew 15:29-31). After His special journey to the borders of Tyre and Sidon, where He healed the Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter, Jesus made a circuit of the Decapolis, ten cities to which the Roman conquerors had granted special privileges about a century earlier. He found a tremendous need for healing in that region.
Matthew's account relates that, when Jesus returned from Tyre and Sidon, throngs of people brought their sick—the lame, blind, deaf, mute, and maimed—to be healed by Him. Of these, Mark perhaps selects the deaf-mute man's case to record because of associated incidents that had not occurred on any other occasion.
He recounts that the man was deaf and had a speech impediment. Deafness can isolate and exclude the sufferer from society. Evidently, this man was not born deaf because, if he had been, he would have been unable to speak at all. No mention is made of how he lost his hearing; possibly a disease or an accident was responsible.
His difficulty in speaking indicates that he was not completely mute, but after Christ's touch, he could speak plainly, which may indicate that his handicap cannot be directly traced to a spiritual source of evil (Matthew 9:32).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Deaf-Mute (Part One)
The spiritual picture presented in the miracle of healing a deaf-mute man is of the sinner's moral and spiritual condition. The tongue of the unconverted person is as estranged from God as his ear. Even the most polished and educated sinner betrays an impediment in speech as soon as spiritual truths are introduced.
The methods that Jesus uses for healing this deaf-mute man are unique. They are not so much His means of healing but signs intended to explain to him how healing would come. Mark reveals the variations in Christ's miracles. Some are healed in a crowd, some in solitude. Others are healed by a word, by a touch, or by clay. He heals a few at a distance and many when present. Sometimes the healing is instantaneous, while at other times, it is gradual. Because of His wisdom and omnipotence, God works through Christ as He deems best.
In this case, Jesus takes the man aside from the multitude. It appears that He wanted privacy to avoid any spectacle that might arise from unrestrained crowds (Mark 7:33). While away from the interruption of a noisy and pressing throng, quietly and privately, the man would be more attentive and receptive. It is important that Jesus awaken in the man a confident hope and an assured faith that he is to be healed.
Christ's response to those who brought the deaf-mute man for healing is simply to heal him. Although they presume to dictate the method of healing, Christ nevertheless honors their faith. He often works out His purpose in spite of us. However, this is not an excuse for our own failures but a demonstration of God's grace in granting us favor.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Deaf-Mute (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Mark 7:31: