Sunday, 9 September 2012

The other side

GospelMark 7:31-37 


Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’


Sometimes you literally need to know where you are with the Gospel. 

The names and places all sound both mysterious and familiar - names we have lived with for most of our lives. And with the contempt that familiarity can nurture we believe that because we have the names we know who we are talking about; we know who Jesus' allies are.

We certainly have the sense that the Pharisees are no friends of Jesus. They are witnesses to miracles and privy to the words of prophecy and scripture yet Jesus remains a figure for doubt and suspicion. No matter how much good he does there is always a 'but'.

The Decapolis region is the other side of the Galilee; the other side of the Jordan; the other side from Jerusalem. It is the side of the Gentiles; Romans and Greeks.  The word that Jesus uses to release the man from his captivity is given in the Greek transliteration of the original Aramaic, perhaps to show us what culture this man belonged to. There is no 'but' in their exclamations of praise. Jesus brought healing to this man - what else is there to say?

The verses that we have missed from last week including the Syro-phoenician woman who asked for healing only to be told that Jesus' mission was not for the 'dogs'. Her answer and her faith must have made a big impression on Jesus.

Jesus would know that these people know nothing about the prophecies of his mission; they have not lived in hope of his coming; they have not prayed in the temple for God to answer their prayers. 

They have not been involved in the centuries old conversation with the Lord; they have not heard or read the psalms and scriptures, The promise that was made to Abraham was not made to them. They have been kept 'without the walls'; in the dark.

They are 'deaf and dumb'.

But they can 'see'. They believe their own eyes.

Jesus is forced to appreciate their faith in what they see. 

Jesus answers the curiosity of the first disciples with the invitation to 'come and see'. These people didn't wait for an invitation. 

The groan that accompanies this healing may well have been Jesus' own release from the restrictions of that first vision of what his mission entails. The recognition that not only does God choose us but that we have the freedom to choose God.

As Isaiah's tongue is blessed with the fire of the Lord so this man is blessed, literally, with the living water of Jesus. He is opened to the fullness of the experience of God. He is a symbol of all those who already 'see' the Father's hand in the world and come to learn of God's love through that 'seeing'.

He is healed; how can he not now be 'sent'? 

How well Jesus does everything! 

How often have you said that?

wordinthehand2012


 


4 comments:

claire said...

The groan that accompanies this healing may well have been Jesus' own release from the restrictions of that first vision of what his mission entails. The recognition that not only does God choose us but that we have the freedom to choose God.

:-))) Thank you for this reflection and all that it brings me as food for thoughts.

Lynda said...

How often am I deaf to God's voice and how often do I not speak up when I should! Thank you for this reflection that has given me insight into what I need to do.

Jade said...

"As Isaiah's tongue is blessed with the fire of the Lord so this man is blessed, literally, with the living water of Jesus."

Something to ponder today, how we
communicate, how we share God's word with the world through our speech and actions.

(I especially like the context you provide for your reflections. They are very helpful.)

Word in the Hand said...

Dear All; Thank you for all your kind comments;
that we can become the voice of God is something to ponder. And, as always not something we get right all the time.
Jade - that was the real eyeopener to me when I put the history and culture with what we read every day. Some of it is still guesswork on my part but they feel right.
Blessings to you all m+x