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24. THE HEALING OF ONE DEAF AND
MARK vii. 31–37.
St. MATTHEW tells us in general terms how when the Lord had returned from those coasts of Tyre and Sidon unto the sea of Galilee, “great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed *, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet, and he healed them;" (xv. 30. ;) but out of this multitude of cures St. Mark selects one to relate more in detail, and this, no doubt, because it was signalised by some circumstances not usual in other like cases of healing. It was that of a man deaf and having an impediment in his speech, one who, if he was not altogether dumb, was yet probably incapable of making any articulate soundst. His case differs, apparently, from that of
• Kullós, properly, crippled or maiined in the hand, as Jerome (in loc.) observes : Quomodo claudus dicitur, qui uno claudicat pede, sic kuilds appellatur, qui unam manum debilem habet. Nos proprietatem hujus verbi non habemus. We are equally without a single word which is its equivalent. At Matthew xvii. 8 it is evidently maimed of the hand. Yet here there may well be a question whether it means so much, for though, of course, it lay in the power of Christ to supply a lost limb, yet we nowhere read in detail of any miracle of this kind, and such an one seems contrary to the analogy of his whole work of healing : for he was come now, a Redeemer, that is, a setter free of man in his body and in his soul from the alien power which held him in bondage-a Redeemer, but not a Creator : even in his miracles which approach nearest to creation, he ever assumes a substratum on which to work; water, to turn into wine; bread to multiply by his power; and in man's case we may presume the same. It is no linitation of this divine power of Christ, to suppose that it had thus its law, according to which it wrought, and beyond which it did not extend. For this law is only the law of infinite fitness, which it received from itself.
+ Some make noyed los here to signify mute, chiefly on account of the dclous of ver. 37; and they refer to Isai. xxxv. 6, (LXX.), tpavi od cotai ydwooa jogiladwv, in proof; as also to Exod. iv. 11, where, though not the Septuagint, yet the three other Greek translations use this word in the sense of dumb. Yet the creder op Ows of ver. 35 makes it to me
the dumb man mentioned Matt. ix. 32; for while that man's evil is traced up distinctly and directly to a spiritual source, nothing of the kind is intimated here, nor are we, as Theophylact suggests, to presume such. Him his friends now brought to the great Healer," and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.” It is not, however, exactly in this way that he is willing to heal him.
It has been already observed, that there is no doubt a deep meaning in all the variations which mark the different healings of different sick and afflicted, a wisdom of God ordering all the circumstances of each particular cure. Were we acquainted as accurately as he who knew what was in man, with the spiritual condition of each who was brought within the circle of his grace, we should then perfectly understand why one was healed in the crowd, another led out of the city ere the work of restoration was commenced; why for one a word effected a cure, for another a touch, while a third was sent to wash in the pool of Siloam, ere he came seeing; why for these the process of restoration was instantaneous, while again another saw at first “men as trees walking.” At all events, we are not for an instant to suppose in these gradually accomplished cures any restraint on the power of the Lord, save such as was willingly imposed by himself,—and this, doubtless, in each case having reference to, and being explicable by, the moral and spiritual state of the person who was passing under his hands; though our ignorance of this prevents us from at once seeing the manifold wisdom which ordered each of his proceedings, and how it was conducted so as best to make the bodily healing a passage to the spiritual, which the Lord had ever in his eye*
far more probable than the meaning which the derivation of the word more naturally suggests, and our translation has given, is the true. He was Bpaðury wooos, vykułóylwocos, balbutiens-that is, he could make no intelligible sounds ; but was not absolutely dumb. Cf. Isai. xxxii. 4. (LXX.) αι γλώσσαι αι ψελλίζουσαι.
• Maldonatus : Videtur etiam voluisse Christus non semper æqualiter
On the present occasion him that he would heal he first “ took aside from the multitude," with which notice we may compare Mark viii. 23 : “ He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town." But for what reason does he isolate him thus? The Greek Fathers say generally, for the avoiding of all shew and ostentation ; but it cannot be for this, since of all the miracles which he did we have but two in which any such withdrawal is recorded. Shall we say then that there was shew and ostentation in the others? It is not much better to find, with Calvin, the reason in this, that he may pray with greater freedom * He, whose whole life was altogether prayer, needed not solitude for this. But rather his purpose in this was, that apart from the din and tumult and interruptions of the crowd, in solitude and silence, the man might be more recipient of deep and lasting impressions ; even as the same Lord does now oftentimes lead a soul apart when he would speak with it, or heal it; sets it in the solitude of a sick chamber, or in loneliness of spirit, or takes away from it earthly companions and friends. He takes it aside, as this deaf and dumb out of the multitude, that in the hush of the world's din it may listen to him; as on a great scale he took his elect people aside into the wilderness, when he would first open their spiritual ear, and speak unto them his law.
The putting his finger into the ears of the man, the spitting and touching the man's tongue therewith, are easily recognized as symbolic actions. Nor is it hard to perceive why he should specially have used these in the case of one afflicted as this man was ; --almost all other avenues of communication, save by sight and feeling, were of necessity precluded. Christ by these signs would awaken his faith, and
suam divinitatem potentiamque declarare, quod non semper, etiamsi nos causa lateat, convenire judicaret. Aliquando solo verbo dæmones ejicit, mortuos exsuscitat, ostendens se omnino esse Deum; aliquando tactu, salivâ, luto, sanat ægrotos, accommodans quodammodo potentiam suam ad modum agendi causarum naturalium, et ad sensum et consuetudinem hominum.
• U't precandi ardorem liberius effundat.
stir up in him the lively expectation of a blessing. The fingers are put into the ears as to bore them, to pierce through the obstacles which hindered sounds from reaching them. This was the fountain-evil; he did not speak plainly, because he did not hear; this defect, therefore, is mentioned as being first removed * Then, as it is often through excessive drought that the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth, so the Lord gives here, in the second thing which he does, the sign of the removal of this evil, of the unloosing of the tongue. And, at the same time, all the healing virtue he shews to reside in his own body; he looks not for it from any other quarter; he takes nothing from any one else: but with the moisture of his own mouth upon his finger touched the tongue which he would set free from the bands which held it fast. It is not for its medicinal virtue that use is made of this, but as the suitable symbol of a power residing in and going forth from his body t.
St. Mark, abounding as he always does in graphic touches, reproducing before our eyes each scene which he describes, tells us of the Lord, how this doing, “and looking up to heaven, he sighed.” Nor has he failed to preserve for us the very word which Christ spake, in the very language in which he uttered it ; he “saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.” The looking up to heaven was a claiming of the divine help, or rather, since the fulness of divine power abode in him permanently, and not by fitful visitation as with others, this was an acknowledgement of his oneness with the Father, and that he did no other things save those which he
* Grotius: Sæpe Christus externo aliquo signo inadspectabilem efficaciam velut spectandam exhibebat. Ita digitis in aures immis is, irrigatàque linguâ testatum fecit se eum esse cujus vi clausi meatus quasi perterebrarentur, et lingua palato adhærescens motum recuperaret.
+ Grotius: Nec aliò hoc referendum mihi videtur quàm quò superiora, ut hoc quoque indicio ostenderetur ab ipso Jesu prodiisse hanc salutiferam virtutem, cùm nihil admotum esset affecto corpori, præter ipsa quæ ipsius Jesu erant propria.
saw the Father do. (Cf. Matt. xiv. 19; John xi. 41, 42.) Some explain the words “he sighed,” or “he groaned," which are the words in the Rhemish version, as the deep voice of prayer in which he was at the moment engaged; but it is more probable to suppose that this poor helpless creature now brought before him, this living proof of the wreck which sin had brought about, of the malice of the devil in deforming the fair features of God's original creation, then wrung that groan from his heart. He that always felt, was yet now in his human soul touched with an especially lively sense of the miseries of the race of man* Compare John xi. 33, “ He groaned in the spirit and was troubled,” a trouble which had in like manner its source in the thought of the desolation which sin and death had wrought. As there the mourning hearts which were before him were but a specimen of the mourners of all times and all places, so was this poor man of all the variously afflicted and suffering children of Adamt. In the preservation of the actual Aramaic “ Ephphatha,” which Christ spoke, as in the “Talitha cumi” of Mark v. 141, we recognize the narrative of an eye and ear witness, from whom the Evangelist had his account, and in whose soul the words of power, which were followed with
* Chrysostom (in CRAMER's Catena): Tiv Toll av porou púoiv idcūv, ις ποιαν ταπείνωσιν ήγαγεν ταύτην ό τε μισόκαλος διάβολος, και ή των πρωτοπλάστων απροσεξία.
+ In the exquisite poem in The Christian Ycar which these words have suggested, this sigh is understood rather as the sigh of one who looked onward to all the deeper spiritual evils of humanity, which would so often resist even his power of healing :
The deaf may hear the Saviour's voice,
The fettered tongue its chain may break;
The laggard soul that will not wake,
Not even in healing, cloudless shine. # It is quite in St. Mark's manner to give the actual Aramaic words which Christ used, adding, however, in each case their interpretation. See jjj. 17; v. 41; vii. 11; xiv. 36 ; xv. 34. Compare x. 46 ; xv. 22.