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God’s Word for You

Mark 7:33-37 Everything he has done is ‘very good.’

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, November 22, 2019

33 Jesus took him aside, away from the crowd, in private. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven, sighed, and said, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”) 35 Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded the people not to tell anyone, but the more he did so, the more they kept proclaiming and proclaiming it. 37 They were so utterly amazed, they said, “Everything he has done is ‘very good.’  He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”

Why did Jesus take the man aside, in private?

He did this so that the man would understand who it was who was healing him. This was a visible proclamation of the gospel, without which the man might have assumed that he was healed naturally, or by someone else. This was the same action as a mommy pointing to a cross to tell her baby about the Savior. “As you go, preach this message” (Matthew 10:7).

Why did Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears?

He did this so the man was prepared to have something happen to his ears. He was preparing the man for the miracle, so that he might anticipate receiving what was about to come. He does the same thing for us with the promise that comes along with the sacraments. He tells us he is giving us forgiveness (Matthew 26:28), and then he gives it. We can be confident that forgiveness is what we receive, since Jesus keeps his promises to us. “The Lord will do what he has promised” (Isaiah 38:7 EHV).

Why did Jesus spit and touch the man’s tongue?

He did this to show the man that his tongue was going to be healed as well, and perhaps to show the man that this healing was coming from out of Jesus, and not from any other source. The same God whose “tongue is a consuming fire” (Isaiah 30:27) also “cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7). “He healed those who needed healing” (Luke 9:11).

Why did Jesus sigh as he looked up to heaven?

His look to heaven was undoubtedly a silent prayer. The Holy Spirit knows what we ought to pray for even when we cannot find the words (Romans 8:26). He sighed to show his compassion to this man, who may not have known about God’s love and compassion. “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13); “the LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9).

Why did Jesus say “Ephphatha” aloud, if the man was deaf?

God works through the power of his word, whether there is anyone there to hear the spoken word besides God or not. In the creation, God spoke aloud, but only God was there to hear the word. Whatever the Lord speaks and whenever he speaks it, “great is the company of those who proclaim it” (Psalm 68:11).

Why did Jesus command the people not to tell anyone about the miracle?

It was not yet his time. The more attention Jesus received from the crowds, the more opposition he drew from his enemies. “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and then he must be killed and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31).

Is this miracle a figurative way of saying that God opens our mouths to speak about him?

Not at all. We must resist any temptation to take the historical facts of Scripture as figures of speech, analogies, or allegories. Beware preachers who are in the habit of reducing the historical facts of Scripture to mere allegories. This was a miracle actually performed by Jesus Christ, just as our resurrection will be a miracle actually performed by Jesus upon each and every one of us.

What does the reaction of the people tell us?

First, they were aware of many of Jesus’ words and miracles. They refer to these things as “everything” (panta, πάντα). This would surely have included the many things Jesus did in Galilee prior to this, but probably not things such as driving out the demon in Tyre, since news about this may not have traveled so far yet.

Second, they acknowledged that these things were done by Jesus himself and not with the help of demons, as his enemies sometimes claimed (“The Pharisees said, ‘It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons’” Matthew 9:34). But the people describe these things as the things he, Jesus, has done: “Everything he has done…” (pepoieken, πεποίηκεν).

Third, they confess that what Jesus has done is “very good.” They used the adverb kalōs (καλῶς). This word is even brought forward to the beginning of the phrase in Greek for special emphasis. This is not uncommon, “simply because the predicate is most frequently the main point in the clause” (Robertson’s Grammar, p. 417). It is the judgment of the people that Jesus does nothing imperfectly or for any reason other than the good of mankind. But more than this, their language seems to reflect the language of Moses. In the creation account, everything God creates in the beginning is always “good” (Greek kalon). In the creation account, it is the adjective kalon (καλόν) because it describes the pronoun “it,” meaning everything God made on the third day (Genesis 1:10), fourth day (Genesis 1:18), fifth day (Genesis 1:21) of creation and so on. But since the people are referring to what Jesus has done with a verb, they use the adverbial form of the same word here: kalōs (καλῶς). Aren’t they thinking of the omnipotent power of God as they praise Jesus and proclaim his actions? Just as what God made “was good” (Genesis 1:25) and “was very good” (Genesis 1:31), so also it is that everything Jesus does is good, very good. In the translation of many versions, “He has done everything well.” It makes little difference how it is stated. Jesus’ omnipotent power over man, over demons, over nature and all creation, is every bit as holy, sinless, good, and for the benefit of mankind as everything done and created by God the Father. The miracles of Jesus Christ underscore his divinity and his perfect unity with the Father.

The Unitarians and others claim that Jesus is only “called God” and is not actually God (Christus Deus nuncupativus), but this flies in the face of the testimony of the Scriptures. The Bible proclaims that Jesus is truly God (John 1:1) and the Son of God (Matthew 16:16), and Jesus himself proclaims, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). With regard to his omnipotent and divine power, displayed by his healing miracles, Jesus also said: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). This shows that Jesus wants us to know that he is equal with God, and is in fact God. “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).

That God himself would come down to earth to take up flesh like mine to atone for my sins is incomprehensible, and yet is the teaching of Holy Scripture. That God himself would have compassion on me, a poor miserable sinner, is beyond belief, and yet I believe it. Why? Because he shows his compassion in miracles like this one, again and again, to draw me to his side, to take my sinful flesh in his holy arms, and redeem me, buying me back from the hopeless bondage of my slavery to sin, death, and the power of the devil. He has made me his own with his divine power and authority, and the claws of the devil can never tear me out of his righteous grasp.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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