A Sigh

[reprinted from December 1, 2010]

Jesus left Tyre and went up to Sidon before going back to the Sea of Galilee and the region of the Ten Towns. A deaf man with a speech impediment was brought to him, and the people begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man to heal him.

Jesus led him away from the crowd so they could be alone. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then, spitting on his own fingers, he touched the man’s tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” which means, “Be opened!” Instantly the man could hear perfectly, and his tongue was freed so he could speak plainly!        Mark 7:31-35 (NLT)

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.” So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake.

This is one of many passages in the gospels that should warn all of us that when Jesus is a part of our lives, our lives may not be seen as ‘normal’ by society’s standards. A deaf man who also has problems speaking, is brought to Jesus by people who believe He can heal the man. Unlike some other passages, I can see that there is a measure of faith exhibited by those who come to Jesus. And how does Jesus respond? Does He lay hands on the man, speak a blessing, and the man is healed? No, Jesus spits on His own hand and then sticks them in the man’s mouth! We have no record of how the crowd reacted to that but I bet it was not what they expected!

It’s also interesting to me that Mark uses the word sigh in recalling these two stories. Maybe Jesus sighed because 5,000 people had just witnessed an extraordinary miracle (are there “ordinary” ones?) and had their bellies filled in the process. They still wanted a sign! What was an indigent, nomadic teacher feeding them from a few fish and loaves of bread??!! (It is so easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback, isn’t it?)

Maybe Jesus was displaying a very human characteristic of frustration. That’s when I sigh! Certainly in the second story that seems true. No ‘sign’ was given to the close-hearted Pharisees and Jesus turns on His heel and gets back in the boat.

Frustration can be a good thing. It can spur me on to put forth more effort and not just sit back on my heels waiting for something to be handed to me. It can also be an indication that I have missed an important something. It can be a signal to seek God’s understanding of the situation.

When I become stagnant by the complacency of where I am in Jesus and decide that I have arrived, my spiritual life begins to decay. God desires that I continue to move forward toward Him and so He does allow obstacles or difficult paths that will frustrate me into moving forward, reaching out for Him.

I see Jesus’ sighs as a human manifestation of His heart’s desire that I continue to move forward in Him. As I do, I will learn more about His mind and His heart and His power. I will become more like Him. A disciple of Jesus.

The Potter’s Hand by Darlene Zschech

 

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