This is a much longer and detailed reflection on this Gospel passage than was possible via Instagram. (@pcav3473)
Jesus is back on home turf in the ten towns of Galilee after an absence. Are the people who bring the man to Jesus hostile or friendly towards Him? Either is possible, but the more we understand what it meant to be deaf and unable to speak clearly in Jewish culture, the more the balance swings towards friendly.
Being deaf is a very isolating experience at the best of times, but it was even worse for someone living in a culture based on oral tradition. To participate fully in the religious life of a Jew you had to be able to hear: in particular to hear the sound of the shofar, the blowing of the ram's horn that is part of several important feast days, and used to sound warnings. You also had to be able to speak: in particular to recite the Shemar at the prescribed times of the day, (viz, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord …). Some rabbinical teachings said it was enough to try to recite it accurately, others said it didn't count unless it was recited perfectly.
There were special laws that decreed that those both unable to hear and unable to speak clearly were to be treated as minors, ie without legal status. Think about how much haggling was part and parcel of most business transactions and you can begin to understand why. Thus unless you were able to find a sympathetic advocate who took the time to question you in the approved manner, a person deaf and unable to speak clearly was unable to buy and retain property and unable to marry.
Even if this man had somehow been able to learn who Jesus claimed to be, having no legal status he would have been unable to request healing from Jesus. That is why people had to bring him to Jesus and he could not approach Jesus on his own. To do that for the deaf man, in the absence of any obvious axe to grind eg healing on the Sabbath, would require a significant level of compassion. Hence the likelihood of friendly.
Due to these known difficulties of life for a deaf person, it is no longer a surprise that Jesus does not hesitate to come to this man's assistance.
What is interesting is that Jesus takes him somewhere private. It feels like there is more to it than just needing to be away from eyes that might class these actions of Jesus (putting fingers in his ears, and spittle on his tongue) as weird. There is a layer of intimacy and personal encounter that feels just as essential as the weird stuff.
Here's the kicker.
What if this story doesn't only relate to the earthly realm, but also relates to the supernatural realm?
The citizens of the supernatural realm are able to hear God in that realm and to speak forth from that hearing for Kingdom of God purposes. These are people we would class as having prophetic gifting (prophecy, visions, dreams, word of knowledge, discernment of spirits etc). God regularly shows them His mind, His heart, His plans, His secrets. They co-operate by speaking forth these things according to God's timing and thereby bringing the active power of God to bear in the earthly realm. For example, in the passage from Ezekiel 37:1-14 about the dry bones, God commands that the prophet speak to the bones in His name.
What if access to the supernatural realm was supposed to be normal, as normal as hearing and speaking in the earthly realm is?
We know that Moses desired that everyone prophesy and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Num 11:29). We know that God promised through the prophet Joel (Joel 3:1-5) that a time would come that everyone would prophesy, dream and have visions. On the day of Pentecost St Peter declared that this promise from Joel was now a reality. Could this sigh of Jesus be an expression of His longing that this be true for everyone?
The adage 'sheep make sheep, and shepherds make shepherds' has had fresh resonance recently. Sheep making sheep is the laity going out into their daily tasks and evangelising and making new disciples of Jesus. Shepherds making shepherds is the role of leaders to not be bottlenecks but to notice those with leadership potential and to call them forth and train them to be good leaders and to surpass their mentors.
Consider the normal way people come into a living relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is person to person, a person (or persons) infilled by the Holy Spirit praying over someone who hasn't yet been filled with the Holy Spirit. But there could be around 5-10% of people for whom God acts sovereignly, infilling them with the Holy Spirit without any active human co-operation. Consider Ananias praying over the future St Paul vs the Holy Spirit coming down on Cornelius and his household while St Peter was still speaking.
Is it possible that prophetic gifting is transmitted in a similar way? For sure there are still sovereign acts of God, a la Amos and his prophetic call, and young Samuel under Eli the priests's care. But what if the usual way is for someone with prophetic gifting to pray over someone without prophetic gifting? What if the usual way is how it is described in this Mark 7:31-37 passage?
Those of us deaf to the ways of the supernatural realm have no legal standing there. We are helpless unless a group of people with prophetic gifting have enough compassion to bring us one by one to the Lord Jesus in prayer, asking Him for citizenship for us. Then knowing His ways, taking each one to places of prayer and quiet where that profound personal encounter with Jesus can happen in His timing. Extended times of personal prayer with Jesus precede the activation of those prophetic gifts and flow from those prophetic gifts.
Why is this so important?
Because in order to come into alignment with God's will, we need to have some certainty of God's will, and that comes from the prophetic gifting. Otherwise we are like deaf people trying to lip read what God is trying to communicate to us, and unable to release the kingdom power that flows from that alignment. Even the best of lip-readers only catch around 30-45% of the message through lip-reading alone.
If this is God's usual way of doing things, then it makes sense for those young in prophetic gifting to have those mature and experienced in prophetic gifting contactable during the journey to maturity in those gifts.
But it begins with groups of those with prophetic gifting having deep compassion for those unable to function as citizens of the supernatural realm and praying for them, one by one.