31 Again He went out from the region of Tyre, and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of Decapolis. 32 They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty, and they implored Him to lay His hand on him. 33 Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself, and put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; 34 and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” 35 And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly. 36 And He gave them orders not to tell anyone; but the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. 37 They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
How many of you, if you had deafness of the ears and difficulty of speech (which we know comes from hearing problems) would let someone spit on their fingers, stick them in our ears, and then touch our tongues? Again, Jesus’ healing is possible by the faith others have in the possibility of the healing. How far would we let someone go if we really had faith they could heal us? In the previous story, we saw Jesus challenge a woman’s faith by telling her essentially that she wasn’t worthy for Jesus to heal her daughter; but she pressed on, not only because she knew Jesus was able, but that He was willing. Here, this guy is watching Jesus spit on His fingers and approach his face. Would our sanitary conscious mind allow this to happen? Would we rather stay deaf and dumb?
In this little instance, we are suddenly challenged to look at the level of our faith. How far will our faith carry us? Will we challenge Jesus even when He says no? Will we let others put spittle in our ears and mouths? Will we step out of the boat and walk on the water? Or would we rather not chance it and turn the other way? Our faith has to be real in order to experience the benefits of it. What’s harder, believing a man can heal our physical deformities or that God loves you, that He has reestablished a relationship with Him for you, and He can cleanse your life of sin? In Romans 10, Paul lays out this simple but difficult formula:
[quote]8 But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, in your mouth and in your heart “-that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.[/quote]
Our confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior is us putting our belief into practice. It isn’t about just saying and offering lip service, it is about putting our supposed beliefs to use. We must activate the faith we proclaim we have in order to see its fruits. What is the point in owning a car if you will never turn the key to start it up? Whenever we turn the key in our cars, we have faith it will start. But, just believing it will start doesn’t get the engine roaring, putting that faith to practice by turning the key is what starts the motor. Our problem is that we seem to have a lot more to lose by putting our faith in God than a car engine. If we turn the key and it doesn’t start, we begin to struggle in our faith in the car but don’t necessarily lose anything as a result of trusting the car will start. When we put our faith in God, however, we make ourselves vulnerable, not knowing what will happen. So then, we let our fear prevent us from trusting in Him and instead of activating our faith, we let it die.
In the secret to faith, we saw Jesus say, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe…” Our fear challenges our faith. Our faith overpowers our fears. But, we cannot have both at the same time. Either we trust or we do not. The crowds missed this point. They were saying that Jesus had “done things well,” by making the deaf hear and the dumb speak, but they didn’t understand that it wasn’t His doing; it was God’s Spirit acting through Jesus as a result of the faith of the people. They might have believed Jesus was capable of these things, but their belief was a little misdirected. This is why Jesus was always preaching about the Kingdom of God and funneling all praise to God the Father. Sure, Jesus’ faith made it possible for Him to be the channel of blessing, but the work was all God’s blessing. This is what we are supposed to be: faithful channels of God’s blessings. This is how we fulfill the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
How well are you being a channel of blessing? Do you have faith that God can and will use you if you trust in Him more? Let’s do our faith well.