Exegesis of the Gospel: Mark 7:31–37
The ministry of Jesus consists mostly of preaching and teaching about the advent of the kingdom of God and healing many people of their illnesses and infirmities.
However, Jesus is clear that he does not want to be known merely as another successful miracle worker. Below the surface of all that he does lies a deeper reality pointing to his divine identity of Messiah and Son of God. Today’s story about the healing of a deaf man who also has problems speaking reveals some of this deeper reality of Jesus’ identity.
1) Tyre, Sidon, the Sea of Galilee, and the district of the Decapolis. In the Gospel of Mark, geography reveals theology. Jesus is not welcome in Jewish areas so he tends to make his way to places populated by gentiles. The irony is that the Jews reject Jesus while the gentiles accept him. The cities and area mentioned in today’s gospel indicate a gentile environment. It is here that the people bring to Jesus a man suffering from deafness and some kind of speech impediment. They believe that Jesus can help this man.
2) Jesus mediates the power of God. Miracle working was always understood to be about power. A miracle worker was someone who was considered able to mediate power for the purposes of healing. Not all power was good and sometimes Jesus’ opponents would accuse him of using the power of Satan to do his miracles. Those who believed in Jesus always saw the power of God at work in his miraculous activity. Notice all the detail Jesus includes in performing this miracle. This is the kind of activity that went into a formal miraculous healing. Jesus knows the ritual procedure and he follows it carefully. The result is that the man is fully healed of both his deafness and his speech impediment.
3) Secret revelation. As soon as the man is healed Jesus orders the people not to tell anyone this has taken place. That seems odd. Jesus, though, does not want miracle working to be his fundamental identity (but he knows this is what will attract). Already the people are astonished by the healing power of Jesus. Who Jesus really is will not be fully revealed until after his death and resurrection. Then he will be revealed as Messiah and Son of God who does all things well.