Christ cannot be hidden.

gospel of mark jesus miracles

This year marks the 30th anniversary of my graduation from high school, and this week, several of the people I graduated with thought it would be a good idea to get the conversation going about a potential reunion this summer.  A group chat was started, and much of this week has been filled with conversations and entertaining memories from that season of life.

 One aspect of that season that many of my closest friends could attest to was the fact that it was then that I became very serious about my faith in Jesus.  Prior to that season, I claimed to believe in Him, but you would have had to look pretty hard to find much evidence to support that claim.  But at the age of 15, that changed.  God providentially placed several godly influences in my life who showed me what a sincere faith looked like, and the Holy Spirit fostered the desire in my heart to fully submit my life to Christ.  I’m truly grateful.

 Christ’s presence in my life quickly became obvious to my friends as my attitude, language, and behavior toward others changed.  I still remember my friend Bobby saying to me a few minutes before class, “You’re different now.  Something changed you.”  It quickly became crystal clear to my friends that I genuinely cared about walking with Christ.  I couldn’t hide it, nor did I want to.  I remember wondering if that might cost me friends, but amazingly, it didn’t.  In many respects, I had more friends and deeper friendships after Christ became the center of my life than I did before I submitted myself to Him.

 During the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, His name was becoming widely known.  Word spread of the effect He was having on the lives of those who encountered Him.  He couldn’t be hidden, and Mark 7:24-37 illustrate that fact thoroughly.

"And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. 25 But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter.”  (Mark 7:24-26)

 Jesus, being born among the Jewish people, was developing a reputation as a teacher, healer, and prophet.  Some were even convinced He was the long-promised Messiah and desired to make Him their king.  Large crowds would gather wherever He and the disciples went, so for a season, Jesus paid a visit to the region of Tyre and Sidon, a primarily Gentile area.  Some theologians believe this may have been an attempt on His part to go to an area where He wasn’t so widely recognized.  It’s also believed that the house He visited to rest a little was likely the home of a Jewish family living in that region.

 But Christ’s reputation preceded Him.  He couldn’t be hidden, and a Gentile woman who heard He was in her region came to the house and bowed at His feet with reverence and respect.  She had a daughter who was possessed by a demon, and in desperation, she came to Jesus to seek deliverance on behalf of her child.  Any loving parent can identify with this woman’s desperation.  We’re told that she literally begged Jesus for help, but His initial response to her tested the sincerity of her faith.

And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs.” 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.  (Mark 7:27-30)

 I don’t know if you like dogs or not.  I have several friends who not only enjoy having dogs as pets, they also consider dogs to be one of God’s greatest blessings to humans.  Even still, I doubt they would enjoy being called a “dog” themselves.  Typically when that term is used toward another person, it isn’t meant to be a compliment.

 Jews would at times call Gentiles “dogs” during the era of history when this Scripture was being written, so some people wonder if that’s the way Jesus was using the term “dog” in this passage.  Others point out that the term He used for “dog” was more commonly used for a household pet more so than a wild or scavenging beast.  Either way, Jesus gave this woman an analogy to explain to her that the initial focus of His ministry was to bring the gospel to the Jewish people.  Jesus told her that this was bread for “the children” first before it would be shared with others.

 I love the Gentile woman’s response.  She didn’t disagree with Jesus or resent His analogy.  Her comments were actually complimentary when she pointed out that she agreed with Him, but even when children are being fed, beloved family pets are typically blessed with something under the table to eat at the same time.  In saying this, she demonstrated humility and faith that Jesus really could meet her need.

 Jesus’ response must have warmed this woman’s heart.  He demonstrated compassion for her, even though she wasn’t a Jew.  He miraculously healed her daughter with a simple word from His mouth, and He made it clear to her that He delighted in her genuine, persistent faith.  From there, Jesus traveled to the region of the Decapolis where He was asked to heal someone else.

“Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him.”  (Mark 7:31-32)

 When I think about physical limitations that would make it difficult for me to do the things I enjoy, deafness is certainly one of those limitations.  From the time I was young, I have always enjoyed listening to music.  I would be sad to lose that ability.  At present, I’m highly involved in recording and editing various forms of media, particularly podcasts.  In addition to that, I regularly earn side income from recording and editing voiceovers and commercials for various clients.  Losing the ability to hear would have a major impact on what I do, as would losing the ability to speak clearly.

 Scripture tells us that as Jesus was in the region of the Decapolis, a man who was deaf and struggling with a speech impediment was brought to Him.  The people who brought him obviously cared deeply about the man’s wellbeing, so they begged Jesus to lay His hand on the man and make Him well.

 I don’t blame these people for making this request of Jesus.  If I had that need, I would seek His healing touch as well.  But by this time in Jesus’ ministry, a pattern had already developed.  It’s beautiful to see people coming to Him, but we have to ask why they were coming.  Were they coming because they understood their deepest needs or were they primarily seeking the comfort of having their physical or material needs met?  Could they identify the void that existed in their souls and their genuine need for forgiveness and restoration, or did they just want their bellies filled and their ailments to go away?

And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.  (Mark 7:33-35)

 Mercifully, Jesus healed this man.  He pulled him away from the crowd and didn’t make a spectacle of his healing, but He restored his hearing as well as his ability to speak.  Jesus ordered his ears to be opened and his tongue to be released, and it was so.

 When looking at Mark’s record of this miraculous event, please understand the deeper application a miracle like this is meant to demonstrate to us because there was a day when we had ears that didn’t work and tongues that weren’t functioning properly as well.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”  (Proverbs 18:2)

 This world is filled with people who love themselves and love their own opinions more than they love receiving the kind of understand and instruction that can only be received through the intervening presence of the Holy Spirit.  Before His merciful intervention in our lives, this was true of us as well.  We weren’t interested in hearing from God.  Our preference was to voice and vent our own thoughts.

 Sometimes I wonder how many times I heard the message of the gospel before I finally listened to it.  I assume many times.  I wonder the same thing when I interact with others.  I think of certain family members that I know have heard, but I’m not convinced they’ve listened yet.  I think of the friends I grew up with.  I know many of them have heard, but have they really listened?  Have our ears been opened to the life changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  (Romans 10:14-17)

 Faith comes from hearing.  Hearing in the natural sense certainly helps, but the kind of hearing that really needs to take place is the hearing that occurs in the heart of anyone who has had the ears of their heart opened by the Holy Spirit that they might receive the truth of the gospel and trust in Christ.

And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”  (Mark 7:36-37)

 Human nature is an amazing thing.  When you tell someone to share something, they often don’t.  When you tell someone to keep something to themselves, they tell everyone.  Jesus told the people who witnessed the effects of this miracle to stay quiet about it for the time being, but they zealously made it known.  Jesus couldn’t be hidden.

 This world needs to hear the gospel.  This world needs the ears of their hearts miraculously opened so they can believe.  This world needs their tongues miraculously loosed so they can testify to the miraculous work of Jesus in their lives.

 Very simply, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to you, and use your voice to testify to the miracle Jesus has done within you.  It’s hard to argue with a sincere testimony.  Speak up.  Don’t be silent.

© John Stange, 2024


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