The sigh of Christ
Mark 7: 31-37 “Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 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. 33 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. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy won the Britain’s Got Talent 2018 show and his life has forever changed for the better in monetary terms.
However the man in this story was not as privileged as Lee Ridley.
We do not know the name of the man.
We do know he was deaf. He could not hear what everyone else could enjoy. His life was smaller. Had he lost his hearing or was he deaf at birth? Coupled with this is that we do know that he ‘could hardly talk’, maybe his close friends understood the grunting sounds that he would make, but he was frustrated in not being able to express himself like his friends. He couldn’t even make a request for help himself, others begged Jesus but he couldn’t.
At that time being mute meant only 2 possible things, punishment for sin or you had demons within. So Jesus being able to heal these sufferings shows he had power over sin and the demonic.
He looked up to heaven as a symbol of prayer (similarly to what he did for the feeding of the 5,000) and as he proclaims ‘be opened’ over the man, Jesus does something that he only does one other time in Mark’s gospel when he is frustrated with the Pharisees asking for signs (Mark 8), he sighs.
In front of this disabled man, he sighs. Why?
Clearly not out of frustration towards him.
Let me suggest …
Jesus sighs out of compassion for the man’s disability. Man was never created to be mute. This is the product of the world gone wrong.
Jesus sighs out of pity because this man has been maligned for the reason of his disability being sin or the demonic. Jesus sighs because he feels sorrow for what this man is experiencing on top of his condition.
Jesus sighs as an expression of prayer. Romans 8:26 “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” We should learn to pray more before we use words.
Compassion, pity and prayer: may we all carry with us the sigh of Jesus to a world that is broken.