Hearing, Really Hearing
Lord, save me from thinking that I know You so well that I only hear from You what is comfortable and familiar.
Read MARK 7:31-37
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…” (Rev. 2:7). The Spirit speaks to those who are willing and eager to hear.
Mark’s miracle stories usually have a second, symbolic meaning. Yes, they point to Jesus’ wonderful power and mercy. At the same time, the question “why did Mark choose to tell this story at this point?” usually leads to deeper meanings. This is a case in point!
The deaf man needs to be able to hear, in order to be able to speak. The crowd is amazed: “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” (37). In Mark 4, we heard about the deafness of “those on the outside,” who hear the parables but can’t understand them, in line with Isaiah’s words (4:11,12; Isa. 6:9-10). Then Jesus told a series of parables about perception (4:21-34), issuing the appeal, “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear” (4:23). At first the disciples seem to be in a privileged position with everything explained to them in private (4:33,34). Just recently, however, we’ve heard that “they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (6:52). Oh dear!
In Isaiah 6:9-10, hard hearts go with blind eyes and deaf ears to describe a people who simply don’t get it. The Pharisees certainly don’t get it. What about the disciples who have been remarkably silent? What do they think about the woman in yesterday’s reading? If it’s true that the heart is the source of all that defiles us (7:21), then the disciples are no better than anyone else. They—and we—all have impure, hardened hearts that will surely deafen our ears to the word of God, unless the Son of God himself puts his fingers in our ears and says, “Be opened!” (34). The restoration of this man’s hearing (and speech) is a wonderful symbol of what the Lord can do to make the deaf hear and the mute speak in other ways, too.
Renew that prayer for hearing that goes beyond your present capacity. Pray for grace to tune in anew to the voice of the Lord!
Lord, where I am deaf to You, open me to listen. Where I am blind, open me to see. I want to hear, see and follow You.
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