In Mark 7, we read the story of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man. In verse 33, it says Jesus took the man aside and put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. After this, Jesus looked up to heaven and He says, “Ephphatha” which means open. But before the word was spoken, after the touching of the tongue, Jesus looked up to heaven and sighed.
Often we find ourselves overwhelmed, tired, in need of a break, etc. and we let out a sigh. Sometimes we remember something difficult or we find ourselves in a tough situation and we sigh. Sometimes we mess up and let out a sigh. Often before I head up front to preach, I sigh. I sigh and pray for my words to be His Word. I sigh and ask that all of the world, all of the day’s baggage, all of the “everything that is not of God” is booted far away.
Jesus sighed. We read of Him sighing in Mark 8:12, a deep groan because the Pharisees wanted a sign. The word used is “anastenaxas.” In Mark 7, the word used is different. The word is “stenazó” and it is a sigh expressing grief, anger, or desire. It can be intensely pleasant or anguishing. As we look at the steps of this healing, we can consider the ears and eyes—both created by God Himself. Jesus, the Son of God, stood before this sinner in need of restoration, sighed at the state of the man, looked up to heaven, the source of every good thing, where He rules and reigns, and said, “Be open.” Imagine Jesus face to face with you right now, reaching out, sighing and saying, “Be healed my child.” There is no need for brokenness, no need for separation. Allow Him to heal you. Allow Him to open your ears. Allow Him to loosen your tongue.
“And looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to Him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’” – Mark 7:34
“When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” – Psalm 104:28 [NIV]
If you have your hands closed, chances are it is going to be hard for you to grasp something. You have to open your hands up to have something placed in them. You have to have your hands open to receive something. As well, you have to have your hands free for you to help someone. Closed hands aren’t so helpful.
Today’s verse makes reference to God opening His hands to provide food to all creatures. The Psalmist notes that when He opens His hand, His people are “satisfied with good things.” Consider the good things that God has blessed you with—food, shelter, provisions, friends, family, skills, etc. Remember His open hands and do likewise. Open your hands for someone today.
As I drove down the street, I noticed that the sidewalk that was recently redone to allow pedestrians safer travel was being changed. It made no sense to me why there was any need to do more work to the area. When I peered closer, I noticed that the sidewalk was constructed to purposely block people from easy access to the church that was located in the same area. There was a barrier making it more difficult for someone to enter the church.
I thought to myself about this barrier and how it reminded me of the barriers that are all around us when it comes to church. There are some people who are kept from going to church. There are others who are turned away from the church. There are others who do not feel welcomed at church. Of course, there are others who want nothing to do with church or with God. From my vantage point, so many people are unable to pass one of these barriers.
During the Christmas season, more people walk through the church doors; some people have not entered since last year and for others it is their first time in a church. I encourage you to be welcoming to all as Christ was loving and caring for the needs of all people. The church is not a building. We are the church. We are called to be a holy people, set apart for God. Let us remember this special calling and act upon it. Let us reach out and hold the door open to all who wish to enter, and even go the extra mile to invite those who have never entered and who aren’t very interested in coming. Shine the Light.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
– Romans 15:7 [ESV]
Most people have heard the phrase, “We don’t live in a barn” growing up. As a little girl, I will admit I left the door open as I would rush into the house for a quick drink, allowing the cool air to send a chill through the home. We are told to keep our doors closed so the heat stays inside. However, when we look at doors from a church perspective, things are the opposite.
In Acts 21, Paul was at the temple, a place where he would often preach the Good News. As was so common, the Jewish leadership was trying to find fault with Paul to arrest him, because He was sharing Christ and people were believing. Upon another accusation, they grabbed Paul to arrest him. The Bible says in verse 30, that “they dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut” (NASB). The Jewish leadership did not want Paul telling people the Truth. To keep the Truth from people, they had to rid the temple of Paul and they closed the doors to keep him out.
Sadly in many churches today, we close the doors. I am not talking about the fact that the doors are closed during the service hours, but rather, I am talking about how we as the body of Christ accept others. Instead of having an open door policy, where we are welcoming people to attend, we are judgmental. Instead of going out of the church to follow the Great Commission, and bring people to know Christ, we close ourselves up within the walls of the church and have fellowship amongst each other.
It’s great to break bread with fellow believers, to have Bible study, to gather together for encouragement and edification purposes. At the same time, a question that must be posed is, are the doors of your church open? Do non-believers feel welcome to come through the doors? When Jesus had His ministry on earth, He ate with sinners. He sat down with tax collectors, people despised by everyone, and looked past the fact. He spoke with a woman at a well that most would have shunned. Are the doors open or are they closed?
Today is a great day to open the doors, step outside for some fresh air, and see what is going on in your community. The Gospel isn’t meant to be all closed up.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20 [NASB]