The spiritual picture presented in the miracle of healing a deaf-mute man (Mark 7:31-37) 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.
1. Why are worldly people deficient in helping those with serious problems?
Comment: In bringing the man to Christ, the deaf-mute man's friends proved their wisdom by knowing where to take the needy (James 5:13-16). Many in society recognize the problems of others. They know when a person is mentally and morally sick, but have no clue as to the true cure. Such people are often unaware of their ignorance, resulting in their championing strange remedies for people's serious needs.
Instead of leading a person to Christ for help—instead of pointing them to the Scriptures or quoting biblical passages as solutions—people are most likely to take a troubled person to a psychologist or psychiatrist for help (I Corinthians 1:20-21). Unfortunately, secular advice often perpetuates the problem rather than solving it (I John 2:15-17). Conversely, Christ is the answer to the greatest problems and needs of people, for "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
2. Why does Jesus put His fingers in the deaf-mute's ears? Mark 7:33.
Comment: Jesus takes the man aside from the crowd to show tender consideration for the feelings of one for whom life was very difficult. Once they are alone, the first thing Jesus does is to put His fingers in the man's ears. They must be healed if the tongue is to work normally, since the man was mute because he could not hear. This symbolic action sends a clear message to the deaf man, helping to awaken his faith and to alert him to the expectation of healing. Since he could not hear encouragement, it had to come from a compassionate touch.
For us, we learn that it is good for us to be alone in God's presence, away from the busy cacophony of a confused world, which is never conducive to spiritual reflection (Ecclesiastes 3:7). In the quiet of God's presence, we can build and improve our personal relationship with Him (Psalm 46:10). Each person needs time alone with the Father to keep a sharp focus on Him. Jesus instructs, "When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6-7).
3. Why does Jesus spit and touch the man's tongue? Mark 7:33.
Comment: The popular belief at that time was that saliva had medicinal properties. This case and the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26; John 9:6) are the only instances where Jesus uses popular medical remedies in healing. However, He did not use His saliva for any medicinal virtue it contained but as a symbol of the spiritual power within Him and emanating from Him. By Christ's touch, the man was shown that the power to heal both his deafness and speech impediment completely came from Jesus. Even with this healing, the man would have to be willing to hear God's words; if not, he would waste his healing and the grace of God (Acts 28:26-28).
The account shows us that Jesus does not consider the deaf-mute as merely another case but as an individual. The man had a special need and a special problem, and with tender consideration, Jesus deals with him in a way that spares his feelings and helps him to understand.
When the healing becomes known, the people declare that He had done all things well (literally "beautifully"), which is also God's verdict on His creation (Genesis 1:31). In the beginning, everything was very good, but mankind's sins have spoiled it ever since. When Jesus came, bringing healing and salvation to the people, He brought the work of spiritual creation, beginning with His church. One day soon, Christ will bring back God's beauty to the whole world.