Friday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 15:29-31; Mark 7:31-37

God Does Things His Own Way

Today we take a short passage, but one which explains a great truth about God’s ways.  Matthew gives a summary version of Jesus’ healing ministry around the Sea of Galilee in the region of the Decapolis, a region where Jews lived among Gentiles.  Mark, instead, gives a singular account about a deaf man with a speech impediment.  Some people bring the man to Jesus and beg him “to lay his hand on him.”  Mark highlights how Jesus heals the man: “And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.  And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”

I want to emphasize again that it seems that Mark purposely gives us the details of this healing.  We have seen Jesus heal from long distance on other occasions; indeed, just yesterday with the Canaanite woman, and another time with the centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13).  Jesus just speaks a word and a storm is hushed.  So why so many steps with this particular healing: taking the man aside privately, placing his fingers in his ears, spitting and presumably placing his spittle on his finger when touching the man’s tongue, sighing, and telling us the very word Jesus said?  Why all this?

Well, let’s discard what we know isn’t true.  To begin, Jesus did nothing for show; “faith-healers” may do that today, but Jesus – never.  Nor did Jesus have to heal the man in this manner; we’ve already seen that.  Ultimately, I cannot say why Jesus chose to heal this particular man in this singular way.  But there is one point I would like to make.  In theology we often speak of “secondary causes or means.”  What we mean by this is that God can and does use the things He created for His own purposes, in this case, Jesus’ unique healing of this man.  But God actually uses secondary means all the time.  A weatherman can tell you all about clouds and the water cycle, and he will be correct.  He can even make fairly accurate predictions based upon his knowledge of a variety of weather-related matters.  A doctor can use medicine or some therapy to heal you.  On the other hand, God can use a storm to bring judgment on a city, or a disease to express his judgment on men’s sins.  All of these belong to God’s sovereign and holy will.  He need not do things directly, and generally He doesn’t.  We are to see His hand in everything and seek to discern His will and way in the world through His word.  This is not easy and we must always be humble in this task.  But the point is that our God never sleeps; He does what He pleases with HIS world.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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