On his way back from Tyre, Jesus passed through Sidon toward the Sea of Galilee and the Ten Cities area. Some people there brought him a deaf and dumb man, and solicited Jesus to lay hands on him. Jesus took the man aside and put his fingers in the man’s ears. Then he spat on his finger and put it on the man’s tongue. Then, looking up, Jesus said, “Effatha.” (Translation: “open up.”) And, poof! The man began to hear and speak clearly without being tongue-tied.
Jesus told the people not to tell anyone, but the more he tried to get them to shut up, the more excited they were to blab it all over. They were thrilled with amazement and said, “He’s so great! He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak!”
First, Sidon and the Decapolis (Ten Cities) is the territory of foreigners, gentiles, enemies, the unclean. Jesus is out of bounds.
Second, according to the law, saliva is as unclean as any excrement. And yet, it is the unclean that heals.
Third, Jesus can get the man to hear and speak by speaking to him in Aramaic (a language the foreigner wouldn’t likely understand). But he can’t get the people to listen and not speak.
Everything about this incident is backwards. But being backwards, we learn:
- We can often accomplish the greatest good when we go beyond what’s ordinarily acceptable.
- The things that seem the most unacceptable are often what we need the most.
- The way to healing and understanding often comes when we stop talking.
Besides that, the word Jesus uses, “open up,” turns out to be a pretty good motto. Next time you’re shut out, when you’re unsure, when you can’t express yourself, when you’re tongue-tied. Open up. You can even stick your fingers in your own ears and touch your own tongue if it helps remind you: open up. Stop blabbing all over town and listen. The people who blab the most are the ones who’ve probably missed the whole point of what they’re talking about.