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Daily Devotional • January 30

James Cornwell
Jesus Heals
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 7:24-37

24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, 25 but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. 26 Now the woman was a gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. 27 He said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 28 But she answered him, “Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 Then he said to her, “For saying that, you may go — the demon has left your daughter.” 30 And when she went home, she found the child lying on the bed and the demon gone.
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went by way of Sidon toward the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one, but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

The way Christ manifests his healing power in the gospels can sometimes seem random. In one instance, he heals a centurion’s servant from afar. In another he makes clay out of the ground to heal a man’s blindness. In yet another, the power goes out from his cloak. What is the pattern here?

The answer may lie not in the whims of the healer, but in the needs of those asking for healing. Today we read of a man who is deaf and dumb brought to Jesus for healing. Note that those who come to Jesus do not ask him to help their friend hear and speak — they beg him “to lay his hand on him.” 

That is precisely what Jesus does in this instance: he puts his fingers in his ears, and, after spitting, places his hand on his tongue. Quite literally, he lays his hand on the man. But Jesus also does more than what is directly asked: he restores the man’s faculties of speech and hearing. Thus, Jesus does what the reader expects — he heals — but he does so in the literal manner he was asked to — he lays his hands on the man.

It’s a silly thing, really. On the one hand, Jesus is God, and could heal the man without touching him. On the other hand, we know that impediments to speech and hearing could lie in several places, not just the tongue and the ears, so touching those places is merely symbolic, if anything. Yet Jesus not only addresses the man’s needs, but does so in accordance with the cries of the faithful who desire the man’s healing.

When we seek God’s healing, both for ourselves and others, we should attend not only to what we’re asking for, but how we’re asking for it. God may answer us in a manner more directly than we expect.   

James Cornwell lives and works in Wheaton, Illinois, with his wife Sarah and their seven children.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, Carlsbad, California
The Diocese of Patna – The (united) Church of North India
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