Jesus and the Deaf
Mark 7:31-37 (NIV): “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 him to place his hand on the man. 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.’”
The Bible is the word of God. It was inspired, written and given to us by God in heaven. This is a holy book. It tells us about God and about the things of God. In the New Testament we read about the most important man who ever lived. That man is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is God. He came from heaven. The Bible say he was born of a virgin. He was both God and man. Jesus taught us about God. He taught many things.
In the Bible there is only one story when Jesus met a deaf man. The story of Jesus and the deaf man is an interesting one. Jesus changed the life of this man. The story is like this:
Jesus came to the Sea of Galilee. Many people followed him and wanted to meet him. In the page before this one in your Bible, Jesus fed 5,000 people. There were thousands of people who had come to see him. Many believed that Jesus was God. Many did not believe him. Some were curious to see him.
There was a group of people there who knew a deaf man. They wanted the deaf man to meet Jesus and wanted Jesus to open his ears.
It is important to understand that during the time of Jesus there were no schools for the deaf, as we have today. Today, we have schools where deaf can come from all over to learn in school. In the time of Jesus there was no school for the deaf. This deaf man did not have an education. He did not go to school. He could not read and write. This deaf man did not know Jesus. He did not know why his friends took him to be with this large group of people. When they pushed him through the group he did not know why. He was afraid.
Many of us have never thought about the deaf people around us. Many have never met a deaf person. We are too busy to see the deaf. Too many people talking to us. We do not have time to talk to the deaf. But Jesus was not too busy. With 5,000 people there Jesus stopped talking to the hearing people and went to meet the deaf man. No one else could talk to the deaf man. Jesus did talk to him. Jesus talked to him in the sign language of the deaf. Look at the Bible. It says he “took him aside, away from the crowd.” Jesus knew this deaf man was afraid. Jesus knew the man did not know Jesus. Jesus talked to him alone. Rather than stay with the hearing people, Jesus with love took the man aside and comforted him.
Jesus spoke to him in his own language. Jesus did not speak to the deaf man with his voice. He spoke to the man in sign language. The Bible says he put his fingers into his ears and spit and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven he sighed and said “Be opened,” and the man’s ears were opened and his tongue was loosed. Why did Jesus do these things? Why did he touch his ears then touch his tongue? Why did he look and probably point up to heaven? Why did Jesus sigh? For your information, this was sign language.
I speak sign language. I have been around the world, and talked to the deaf in different languages. I speak sign language in six different languages. I have been to Israel; I have met deaf people there. When you point to your ear and point to your tongue that means the word “deaf” in all those languages. The deaf man understood that Jesus was saying to him, "You are deaf." When he pointed up to heaven Jesus was saying the word God. In Brazil Sign Language this sign means God. The deaf man understood that Jesus was saying that God knew he was deaf. God understood the deaf man!
Next Jesus did a wonderful thing. He healed the man. Jesus said, “Be opened,” and the deaf man’s ears were opened. He could hear. Jesus did another wonderful thing also. He loosed the man’s tongue so that he could speak clearly.
From this story we learn wonderful things. We learn that God loves each individual. Jesus left the large group of thousands of people to go talk to one man. In this busy world we feel lonely. Others cannot understand us. Jesus understands. He loves us. He will talk to us. He loves us. Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.” If you think that others do not care abut you, please learn now that Jesus loves and understands you. If you have problems and worry, God understands. He will help you.
We also learn that God loves deaf people. Here, when no one else could help the deaf man, Jesus did. In our churches we work to tell many kinds of people about God. We work with young and old. We work with rich and poor. We tell men and women. We help the crippled. We send mission money to tell people in other lands about Christ. But we do not tell the deaf who live around us about Christ.
There are many deaf who live around you. In this country there are millions of deaf people. They cannot hear the gospel of Christ. They cannot understand the Bible alone. Deaf people need some one to come to them to explain the gospel on the hands. They are sinners who know how to do wrong. We have deaf who drink whiskey, use drugs, live in sexual sin. Like hearing people, they steal, lie, and kill. Deaf are sinners. We all are sinners. Deaf people need some one to explain to them that Jesus can take away their sin. Jesus can pardon their sins. There are deaf people who live in your neighborhood. Who will tell them about Jesus. Would you give your hands to tell the deaf of Christ? Would you learn to talk to them in sign language? Would you work with the deaf in your service for God?
From this story we also learn that someone who knew Jesus brought the deaf man to know Jesus. These workers were successful in their work. In a time when many churches and Christians are failing in their task to serve God, we need to learn from people who were successful in their service for God. The people who brought the deaf man to Jesus did something that had never been done before. Others say you cannot teach the deaf. No one can talk to them. They did not listen. They set out to bring the deaf man to Jesus. Others said Jesus is too busy for a deaf man. They did not listen. They brought the deaf man to Jesus. Others said that Jesus cannot help the deaf man. But Jesus did help the deaf man. Thank God for these stubborn workers who did not quit.
Here and now I tell you that Jesus loves you. He can forgive your sin and he can save you. You are a sinner and should die forever. Jesus does not want you to die forever. He wants to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. The same as he did the miracle of opening the ears of the deaf man and freeing the deaf man’s tongue, he will forgive your sin and save you if you will come to him.
As a church I ask you to include the deaf ministry in your church. Learn to communicate with the deaf. Tell the deaf in your community about Jesus who saves from sin.
If you are a Christian I ask you to work for God. Be a strong Christian. Tell others about our Savior. Jesus will save the people you bring to him. We have been given the responsibility to tell others of Jesus. Let us be like the people who brought this deaf man to Jesus. There are people around us who need salvation. Jesus will save the lost if you and I bring them to Jesus.
Today would you make a decision? If you do not know that you have been saved, today you could come to know Jesus same as the deaf man in the Bible.
Would you start a deaf ministry? Will you tell the deaf in your community that Jesus still loves them? Will you learn to talk on your hands to the deaf?
Will you as a Christian become a successful servant of the Savior, the same as these brave workers who brought the deaf man to Christ? Will you begin now to tell others that Jesus can forgive their sin and save them? Will you bring others to the Savior?
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