Jesus Heals A Deaf And Dumb Man


‘Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means ‘Be opened!’). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’ Mark 7:31-37

In avoiding the region that was governed by Herod Antipas, Jesus returned to the area of Galilee, Matthew 15:29-31.

Barclay, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This story begins by describing what is on the face of it an amazing journey. Jesus was going from Tyre to the territory around the Sea of Galilee. He was going from Tyre in the north to Galilee in the south, and he started by going to Sidon. That is to say, he started going due south by going due north! As one scholar has put it, it would be like going from London to Cornwall via Manchester; or like going from Glasgow to Edinburgh via Perth.’

The Deaf And Dumb Man

Notice that this man was also from the region of the Decapolis, which is Gentile territory. It’s certainly possible the man was deaf from birth, hence why he could hardly speak.

We can only imagine how difficult life must have been for this man who was deaf and could hardly speak. There were no remedies or medicine available back in Jesus day and there were certainly no support groups.

I’m sure, just like sadly happens today, people would have made fun of him because of his disabilities. People would probably treat him like some kind of outcast. Even more concerning, the Jews may have thought that he was deaf and dumb because God was judging him for some sin that he or his parents committed, John 9:1-2.

The word ‘hardly talk’, Mark 7:32, in Greek is ‘mogilalos’, which could mean a speech impediment or someone who is dumb. The word ‘speak plainly’, Mark 7:35, in Greek is the word ‘orthos which means in an upright manner.

Although a few commentators suggest that the correct translation is the word ‘dumb’, this isn’t clear from the text. If we compare the words ‘hardly speak’, with ‘speak plainly’, I believe this implies a speech impediment, the same disability is described for Moses, Exodus 4:10.

It’s clear that those who brought the man to Jesus had great faith in Jesus being able to help him, Psalm 37:23. Jesus’ compassion for man is seen in Him taking the man away from the crowd, probably to ensure the man wasn’t embarrassed, Isaiah 53:3.

You undoubtedly noticed that Jesus used an unusual procedure to heal this man. After taking him away from the crowd, Jesus looked up to heaven to show that it was from God that help was to come. The ‘deep sigh’ may mean a silent prayer, Romans 8:26. Then He spoke the word and the man was healed, Exodus 4:11.

Jesus put His fingers into the man’s ears and touched the man’s tongue with His own saliva. Apparently, Jesus was using ‘sign language’ to communicate with him and to let him know who was about to heal him. Had Jesus not done this, the man would have suddenly begun to hear, but wouldn’t have understood why.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Why this was done it has been found exceedingly difficult to explain. Jesus had power at once to open his ears and loose his tongue, but for some cause, he chose to accompany it with a sign. This was intended, probably, simply to denote that the power of healing came from him; to satisfy the man by the touch that he had this power, and that it could come from no other quarter. Our Saviour often used signs in this way to denote his power to heal. See Mark 8:23 / John 9:6.’

This man couldn’t speak clearly because he was deaf. In private, Jesus signalled to the man by touching his ears and tongue because the man couldn’t hear.

The word, ‘Ephphatha’ was an Aramaic expression that means ‘to be opened.’ Aramaic was possibly the language Jesus and the disciples spoke as their common language.

Notice that there was no prolonged healing indicated here. A true miracle is defined by the instantaneous result of its effect. A miracle was defined by being openly perceived by others who couldn’t deny it. This was the case with this miracle, Acts 4:14-16 / Acts 7:36-37.

Jesus commands them not to tell anyone because He simply wanted to discourage people from coming to Him only for healing, Mark 5:43. Miracles were for the primary purpose of confirming God’s messengers and message, Mark 16:17-20 / John 20:30-31.

This miracle once again proves the Messiahship of Jesus, Isaiah 35:5-6. As a result of this healing, they were utterly astonished, and the extent of their astonishment measured the undeniable evidence of the miracle.

A true miracle is so definite and obvious that it affects one intellectually and emotionally. It was an occurrence that changed the lives of sincere people. The multitude’s affirmation was absolutely correct, ‘He has done everything well!’ Genesis 1:31.

We can only imagine how this man’s life changed and I’m sure he wasn’t only thankful to Jesus for healing him but also thankful to those who had the faith to take him to Jesus in the first place. We can only imagine what his first words were when he spoke plainly.

Imagine him listening to music for the first time. No longer would he be made fun of, no longer would he be treated like some kind of outcast. Imagine the excitement as he returns home, possibly to meet his friends and family. I’m sure he would just speak and speak and speak as well as listen clearly to others speaking to him.

This man would have never met Jesus if no one had taken the time to take him to Jesus. Friends will go to any lengths to bring others to Jesus, Mark 2:4 / John 1:40-42 / John 1:46.

When was the last time you brought someone to Jesus?