Three years ago I opted for thinking the ‘they’ bringing the deaf and mute man to Jesus had friendly intentions. That’s still possible, and the verbs (parakalousin) and (epithe) back up that interpretation; reminding us of paraclete (Holy Spirit) and epiclesis (hand gesture for calling down the power of the Holy Spirit).
But what if ‘they’ had hostile intentions?
What if ‘they’ being not defined deliberately permits both interpretations, friendly and hostile?
We know from earlier in the Chapter that Jesus wanted this journey into foreign territory to be incognito. But He was still getting recognised.
We could surmise that Jesus is on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, and that He has already attracted enough attention for a crowd to start forming around Him.
If you were hostile to Jesus, what would be a good way to discredit Him?
Bring Him an impossible case; and do it publicly, expecting to gloat when He fails.
The deaf man who can’t talk properly does not have any right to transact his own affairs. He is at the mercy of others, and sometimes those people will be kindly and sometimes they will take as much advantage as they can get away with.
He was unable to act of his own volition, according to the Law, so he couldn’t bring himself to Jesus. But he has been led/brought/conducted, possibly against his own will, to Jesus.
The crowd is naturally agog to see what’s going to happen.
Jesus doesn’t do the expected thing. He doesn’t say, ‘be opened’, with a grand gesture and hey presto, big miracle.
He goes off to a private place.
It may have been to recover an atmosphere of prayer, away from heckling and gawking.
It may have been to reduce the onslaught to the senses when the man regained them.
It may have been to reduce scrutiny/mockery of the unusual actions Jesus did, fingers in the man’s ears, and spittle on his tongue.
It may have been a counter measure against effectively becoming a performing porpoise;
It may have been to give the deaf man personal time with Jesus,
It may have been trying to preserve the incognito
or a full or partial combination of these reasons.
The healing happens at the pace Jesus has chosen.
It is a complete healing, of both hearing and speaking.
And Jesus wants it kept quiet?
And He insists on it, even though the witnesses to the miracle disobey.
Jesus must have had very good reasons, because He rarely insists on anything.
So it must have been extremely important.
Yet the witnesses, His followers, and the crowd are unable to restrain themselves.
Do we trust Jesus enough to do what He says, even if it doesn’t make any sense to us?
It is an important question, because obedience aligns ourselves with God’s plans
and disobedience delays, obstructs God’s plans and prevents the full good He intended.
So many of us are in lockdown (again), feeling helpless and useless by turns,
living in a secular society that is hostile to the Gospel.
The underlying intention of the lockdown has been to separate us from God, to crush our faith, to reduce our trust in God to nothing, to bring to naught our communities of faith, to make those with faith even more of a laughing stock than they were before.
The malice is the same, the intention is the same.
That’s what would have happened if the deaf and mute man had remained unhealed.
But God is so much bigger than anything malicious aimed at Him or His people.
Lockdown is meant to crush and destroy us.
But God has been working in secret, just as He did with the deaf and mute man.
The feeble faith we went into lockdown with is being transformed by His grace, that little faith, disabled and threatened in so many ways, is being fully restored, resurrected by Jesus, in the hiddenness of lockdown.
What was meant for evil is being transformed by God into a complete restoration of our faith in Him; into a complete resurrection of His Church as He had always intended her to be.
The powers that be expect us to emerge from lockdown even more enfeebled than when we went in. Jesus had a surprise for them back then, and He has a surprise for them today too.
We are coming out fully restored, completely restored by grace.
Unrecognisable compared to how we went in.
A force to be reckoned with, empowered by God,
fully attuned to His voice, completely clear in transmitting His Good News.
His full process is almost complete in us.
We will be emerging soon.
Trust in Him.
He knows what He is about.
The change will be so remarkable, so complete,
that it will be described as a New Pentecost
as a world-wide Resurrection.