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The Healing of the Deaf Mute

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
November 8, 2020 12:01 am

The Healing of the Deaf Mute

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 8, 2020 12:01 am

After Jesus touched a man who was mute, the tongue that had failed to speak was set free to declare the glory of God. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his study in Mark’s gospel to show how this miracle points to an even greater reality in the life of every Christian.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind, Jesus Heals a Deaf Mute. The man's ears were opened, but not only was he given the gift of hearing, but now he could speak.

That tongue could now be used not for unintelligible mumbling, but could articulate the glory of God. Jesus' ministry on earth included amazing miracles—healing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising the dead. But as we studied the Gospels, we realized the miracles pointed to something far more significant.

And today Dr. R.C. Sproul returns to his series from the Gospel of Mark to show us how God was glorified in the healing of this deaf man. Last week we talked about Jesus leaving the traditional borders of Israel and traveling to the city of Tyre, which is in modern-day Lebanon in ancient Phoenicia. And Mark tells us again of Jesus continuing to be on the move. But his description of the itinerary here in the seventh chapter is one that has frankly baffled biblical scholars for centuries, because we read that Jesus left Tyre, went north to Sidon, and then made His way east and came back south and then back up to the Sea of Galilee, a trip that moved in the shape of a horseshoe and that took 120 miles to go from Tyre back across and down and around up into the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. And the question is, why in the world did He take the trip in this manner? Well, I can answer that question.

I don't know. But in any case, I, in fidelity to Mark's Gospel, report to you that detail, that they made that journey. Then we read that He came through the midst of the region of the Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee, and they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in His speech, and they begged Him, that is Jesus, to put His hand upon Him. When it tells us that the man was deaf and that he had a speech impediment, the word for speech impediment is a word that is only found twice in all of the Bible, and it means that the person had a severe difficulty in speaking clearly or in any way in which people could discern the words that He was saying. Now this description of His malady has again fueled no little bit of speculation as to the cause of His problem. Some say that He must have been born deaf, and those who were born deaf without great training by professional speech pathologists are usually doomed to living a life of being mute as well. And yet this man still was able to speak to some degree, and so the scholars say probably he wasn't born deaf, but deafness afflicted him early in his life, and so whatever speech patterns he was able to develop were at best garbled.

Now again, that's all speculative. All we know is that the man couldn't hear, nor could he speak in any plain matter. But there is an element here I think of further interest when we say, why does Mark include this episode? Jesus healed so many people of so many different diseases and problems. Why does Mark and Mark alone in all of the New Testament record of Jesus' life include this brief narrative of this particular healing?

Well, I think we find a clue in the fact in the fact that the word mogulalis is the Greek word for what is translated speech impediment here. It's only used twice in the Bible, and the other place that is used is in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament book of Isaiah. And I'd like to take a few moments to digress from Mark's study here and go back centuries earlier to the prophetic writing of Isaiah in the Old Testament. And it takes us back to chapter 35 of the book of Isaiah.

But before I read from chapter 35, let me give you just a little bit of a heads up here. In the preceding chapters, Isaiah has been delivering to the people of Israel an oracle of doom that God had commissioned Isaiah to pronounce upon the people of Israel and her neighbors that the judgment of God was going to lay the land waste, that the people were going to go through a period of severe desolation. Just to give a taste of the severity of that judgment, let's go back even earlier to Isaiah 34.

In verse 8, Isaiah says, it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion's. Its streams, listen to the imagery here, shall be turned into pitch, tar that is, and its dust into brimstone. The land shall become burning pitch, and it shall not be quenched night or day. Its smoke shall ascend forever, and from generation to generation it shall lie waste.

No one will pass through it forever and ever. But who will own this land? Listen to what Isaiah says. The pelican and the porcupine will possess it. The owl and the raven shall dwell in it, and he shall stretch over it the line of confusion and the stones of emptiness. They shall call its nobles to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all of its princes shall be nothing. Thorns shall come up in its palaces, nettles and brambles in its fortresses. It shall be a habitation of jackals, a courtyard for ostriches. The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the jackals. The wild goat shall bleat to its companion, and the night creature shall rest there and find for herself a place of rest. There the arrow snake shall make her nest and lay eggs and hatch and gather them under her shadow. There also the hawks will be gathered, everyone with her mate."

You get the picture? Could you ever get a more graphic description of divine judgment on a land than to have God take the land away from the prince, away from the ruler, and deliver it to the jackals, to the snakes, to the birds of the air? And this is a rising crescendo that had gone on for several chapters about the destruction that God had planned for this part of the world. But when God gives His announcement of judgment, He almost always gives us an element of future hope, because God never abandons His remnant to desolation.

And even in this text where Isaiah announces the day of the Lord's visitation, the day of His destruction that would come upon the land, He then builds upon this, and here what He says in chapter 35. Then the wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them. The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.

It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it. The excellence of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God.

Do you see the contrast? Desolation to glory, destruction to the excellence of the manifestation of the Lord. So the prophet says, strengthen the weak hands, make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, be strong, do not fear. For behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come, and He will save you. See, in this text, what we have reiterated is a principle that is repeated over and over and over again in the Old Testament.

Salvation is of the Jews, that God works through His stiff-necked people Israel to bring His redemption to the whole world. Then here's the climax. The eyes of the blind shall be opened. The ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will sing.

Here is where that word mogulalos is used again, where the tongue of the dumb will sing. Water shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parts ground shall become a pool, the thirsty land springs of water, in the habitation of jackals, where each day there shall be grass with reeds and bushes and rushes, and a highway will be there, and a road, and it shall be called the highway of holiness.

Do you hear it, dear friends? Centuries before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, God gave this message to His people, looking past the destruction, past the desolation, to the Messianic age when the kingdom of God would break through, and the Messiah would come, and He would give sight to the blind. He would give hearing to the deaf, and He would loosen the tongue of the mute and of the dumb, and the lame would leap for joy. Surely Mark has this in mind as he pens the narrative that I've read to you this morning of Jesus' encounter with the deaf mute.

Let's look again at that text. And He took Him aside from the multitude, and He put His fingers in His ears, and He spat and touched His tongue. Notice that this man is also from the region of the Decapolis, from the realm of the Gentiles, from the land of those who had been deemed and pronounced unclean. And the first thing we see is that Jesus took Him aside, and He touched Him. He put His fingers in His ear, and then He spat on His hands, and He took the spittle. Which spittle, by the way, in Jewish purification laws was considered an unclean emission? And Jesus spits on His hands and takes that spit, and puts it onto man's tongue. Now there was a tradition in the ancient world that those who were endowed with healing powers would often use spittle as a medium to communicate that power to the people to whom they ministered. And maybe Jesus was simply trying to give this man some confidence that Jesus knew how to heal people.

We don't know. Others see a far deeper symbolic significance to Jesus using His own spit to bring redemption to a suffering human being that it foreshadows to some degree another liquid from His body, His blood, which saves us not only in our mouths but all together when He pours out His blood for His people. But in any case, we get this vivid description of the transaction. And when Jesus touched the man on the tongue, He looked up to heaven, and the Scripture said He sighed or groaned inwardly, indicating a passionate appeal to the Father to intervene. He touched the man's tongue, a tongue that was in chains. And then our Savior sighed, and He spoke, a word that is left in the original by Mark that simply means be opened, and at the command of Jesus that those ears that had been clogged, that had heard no sound, that tongue that had been in chains, making it impossible to speak clearly, were set free.

The man's ears were opened, and he could hear. But not only was He given the gift of hearing, but now He could speak. That tongue could now be used not for unintelligible mumbling but could articulate the glory of God.

You know, in a very real sense, beloved, this is what happens and does happen to every Christian. Before the Holy Spirit opens us to the things of God, we are as deaf to the Word of God as this poor man was deaf to all verbal communication. And until the Holy Spirit cleanses our hearts and regenerates our soul, what we have in our mouths is mere filth. The poison of asps is under our lips, and our tongue is used to utter blasphemy and poison until it is made free from the chains of sin. Immediately, Mark tells us, his ears were opened. The impediment of his tongue was loosed.

And notice what the Bible says. It doesn't simply say, and he spoke. That would be remarkable enough if the Bible said immediately his ears were opened, and he could hear, and now he could speak. But Mark says more than that. Immediately, instantly after Jesus touched his tongue and made the commandment, not only could he speak, but he could speak clearly.

Any pathology that was there was removed, and he was articulate in what he said. And then Jesus commanded them, as He normally does, that they should tell no one, but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure.

And in their shock, in their astonishment, notice what they say in this response. Here's what they say of Jesus. He has done all things well.

He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. He has done all things well. What a description of Christ. Jesus never did anything poorly in His life. When He set His face toward Jerusalem and determined to make His meat and His drink be obedient to the will of the Father, He did it well. There was no failure.

There was no blemish to His work. I'm sure that as a child when He was working in the carpenter shop, that when Joseph looked over his shoulder and watched him working, that Joseph was beaming with pleasure at how well his Son did what He was doing. The Father in heaven makes the same evaluation when He says from the sky, from the sky, this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

I remember when my friend Jim Boice received a diagnosis of terminal cancer from the time of the diagnosis to the time of his death was six weeks, and everybody in the church was wringing their hands and weeping and complaining and offering him all kinds of remedies that would cure him. He said, hey, be at peace about this. God does all things well. That's the heart of a Christian. You see, because it's the same God who's manifest here in Jesus in ministering to this afflicted man by the Sea of Galilee in the Decapolis. It's the same God who created the heavens and the earth. And when God created the heavens, He looked at what He made through the power of His voice. He saw the lights shining into the darkness, and He says, well, that's not too bad.

No, no. He looked at the work of His hands and pronounced His divine benediction upon it. That's good, because what God does in creation, He does well. And it is the same God who calls light into darkness to the power of His voice that is at work here by the Sea of Galilee, restoring this man's hearing and his ability to speak. It is the same God who redeems you. And in the work of redemption that was accomplished for your souls, Christ did it well. That's why we can sing in the midst of tribulation, it is well with our souls, not because we make our souls well in the midst of the storm, but because when the Spirit of God comes into the soul of a person and brings His peace and brings His joy, He does it well. And that's what these pagan Greeks noticed about Jesus.

Look at Him. Everything He does, everything He does, He does it so well because He's God incarnate, the One who creates, the One who redeems, the One who loosens tongues and opens deaf ears, does all things well. And when we survey our lives in the midst of pain, in the midst of sorrow, we're not always sure of that.

I talked to somebody who told me they were watching television. They had an interview with Robert De Niro, and at the end of the interview, the host said to Robert De Niro, at the end of your days, if you come before God, come before God, what will you say to Him when you meet Him? And De Niro in a kind of cocky manner said, what I'm going to say to God is you have some explaining to do.

No, no, Mr. De Niro, you are going to be the one who's doing the explaining. God doesn't have to explain anything that pleases Him to bring to pass in this world. He didn't have to explain to Israel why jackals were inhabiting the land. He didn't have to explain to Israel why their streams had become like rivers of tar, worthless for navigation, worthless for fishing.

The reason for that was clear. They were a sinful nation. But beyond the tar and beyond the jackals, is the Redeemer, who unlike us does all things well. Well, God is glorified in times of trial and in times of peace.

We know we can trust our God, who does all things well. You're listening to the Lord's Day edition of Renewing Your Mind. And each Sunday, Dr. R.C. Sproul is walking us verse by verse through the Gospel of Mark. We're getting a glimpse of the life and ministry of Christ through R.C.

's preaching. This series was the basis of our resource offer today. It's Dr. Sproul's commentary on Mark's Gospel.

There are nearly 400 pages in this hardbound volume filled with R.C. 's insight, and I encourage you to request it today and use it as a study guide through the rest of this series. We'll send it to you for a donation of any amount to Ligetier Ministries. You can reach us online at We are grateful for your financial support because of your gifts, the truth of God's Word is being heard around the world even now.

So thank you. Next Sunday, we'll continue the series by looking at yet another miraculous event in the life of Jesus. We've already seen Him feed 5,000. Next week, another crowd will experience a bounty of food from Jesus' hands. I hope you'll join us next Sunday here for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-29 13:09:47 / 2024-01-29 13:17:30 / 8

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