A Wonderful Portrait of Jesus

Posted on July 29, 2022


By David Ettinger

Sparsely Written-Of Episode
It’s tucked into the Book of Mark, the only place in the Bible in which it is recorded. Why it gets so little attention from Bible teachers and scholars, I have no idea, but I love it.

The episode is recorded in Chapter 7, verses 31-35:

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.

Let’s take a brief look at this wonderful portrait of Jesus.

Just A Reminder
Remember, Jesus is God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth (italics added to verses):

  • “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3).
  • “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him” (John 1:10).
  • For in him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

I just want to make sure we’re clear on this: Jesus is God; the Creator of the universe.

A God of the Individual
Despite being the Author of all life, Jesus is the God of every individual who ever lived. One wonderful example of this is the Lord’s dealings with the man who was deaf and nearly mute.

The episode comes at a time of busy and fruitful ministry in Jesus’ life. There were miraculous healings, miraculous feedings, and other remarkable displays of His deity. And at every turn, there were crowds as far as the eye could see.

Yet, when this man is brought to Jesus, our Lord seeks “alone time” with him. To Jesus, this afflicted individual is not just another face in the crowd, but a precious soul for whom He would soon sacrifice His life.

Here is Jesus – God, the Creator of the Universe – with a stricken man, face-to-face in this one moment in time. Though Jesus carries the burden of humanity upon His shoulders, He still has time for a lone soul.

Once the two are alone, Jesus could easily have healed the man with a word, prayer, or by unspoken will. Instead, Jesus seeks to communicate with him in a very individual way. Basically, the Lord employs sign language.

By putting His fingers into the man’s ears and touching his tongue, Jesus is telling Him in a very personal way: “My dear son, you are deaf and can barely speak now, but in a moment I will give you hearing and speech. You are precious to Me and I am about to bestow upon you the blessings of Heaven.”

A God of Compassion and Tenderness
We next read that Jesus looked up to Heaven and sighed. Why did our Lord do this?

Perhaps one reason is that He considered the heartache this man likely lived with all of his life. Besides his affliction, there was the stigma of being a social outcast.

In biblical days, society regarded physical infirmity as God’s punishment for sin – either the afflicted individual’s sin, or that of his family. Therefore, the deaf and near-mute man would also have been regarded as sin-stained and deserving of God’s curse.

Perhaps Jesus sighed because at that moment He was overcome with sadness by the plight of the human race because of sin. The deaf man’s affliction was a reminder to Jesus of the horrors of sin and why one day soon He would be going to the cross to die for the sins of the world.

Whatever the reason, this sigh speaks volumes about the nature of Jesus. It displays His sensitivity, compassion, and tenderness. It reveals to us a God who can sympathize with lowly human beings on our level.

He is a God who can empathize with the very man and woman for whom He died. As Hebrews 4:15 says: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.”

What This Means to You
This wonderful portrait of Jesus should mean everything to you. It shows you that God cares about you as the individual you are with your own burdens, afflictions, and concerns. And just as He did with the deaf man, He meets with you one-on-one to care for your needs.

As the all-powerful Creator of the Universe, He is able to mend what ails you and comfort you in your greatest time of need!

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.