Would it stretch this text too far to say that the world (and the church!) is still “deaf” to the plight of people living with HIV and AIDS and “mute” about their suffering?
There are several remarkable things in this healing encounter and each one challenges us, even today.
In going to Decapolis, Jesus crosses boarders to bring healing as a sign of the presence of the Kingdom. When last did you cross a border (internal and external) to set up signs of the Kingdom of God?
Jesus treats the man with dignity and respect by not making a spectacle of the healing. How do we treat those that are marginalized and stigmatized with dignity and respect when we reach out to them?
Jesus enters into the world and culture of His times. In the “non-Jewish” parts of the world in which Jesus entered, “miracle workers” often used strange language, gestures and “magical” techniques to “heal” people and perform “miracles”. Mark however emphasized that Jesus was more than a mere “miracle worker”. How often do we come to the complex phenomenon that is HIV and AIDS with simplistic “magical bullet” solutions which disregard the power of culture?
Jesus brings more than “signs/wonders and miracles”. In Him the Kingdom of God becomes a present reality. How do we erect liberating and transforming signs of the Kingdom as a present reality?
Jesus demonstrates His dependence on this Heavenly Farther by looking towards the heavens. Do we take time every day to look towards the heavens?
Jesus sighs. This must be one of the most enigmatic statements regarding the life of Jesus. Does Jesus express the groaning and yearning of creation that is longing for healing and liberation? Is it the “wordless groan” that through the Spirit expresses that which we cannot bring under words? “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:27 – NIV).
In verse 36 Jesus prohibits people to talk about the healing. Commentators agree that this has to do with the “Kingdom mystery” that comes with the fullness of time. Today we live in the fulfillment of the presence of the Kingdom of God. Are we still in awe of this? Are people today still overwhelmed and amazed by the Kingdom?
Jesus ushers in the new creation and people say: “How well he does everything!” (Verse 37 – Good News Bible). This echoes the words accompanying God’s creation of the world: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31 – NIV).
Let us work together to point to the amazing signs of the Kingdom of God. Let us erect those signs in the midst of suffering and despair. May our hearts and minds be opened today by the Word of Jesus as it echoes through the centuries: “Ephphatha!” – Be opened!