In Mark 7, we find Jesus performing a great miracle. The whole dramatic scene takes place in just five verses:
"Departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plain" (Mark 7:31-35).
Picture the scene. As Jesus arrived on the shores of Decapolis, he encountered a man who was both deaf and tongue-tied. The man could talk, but his speech was unintelligible. Christ took the man aside, away from the crowd, and as He stood before the man, He placed His fingers in his ears. Then Jesus spat, and touched his tongue, speaking two words: "Be opened!" And instantly, the man could hear and speak clearly.
Just prior to this scene, Jesus had also delivered a woman's demon-possessed daughter. By merely speaking a word, He cast the evil spirit out of the girl. Why are these two miracles recorded in Scripture? Are they included as just two more scenes from the Lord's life on earth?
The vast majority of Christians believe such stories are preserved in Scripture because they reveal much to us. They are intended to show God's power over Satan and sickness. They're meant as proof of Christ's deity, to establish that He was God in flesh. And they're meant to encourage our faith, to show us that our God can work miracles.
I believe these stories were recorded for all these reasons, and much more. Jesus tells us every word He spoke came from the Father. He said and did nothing on His own, but by His Father's leading. Moreover, every event of Christ's life holds a lesson for us (see 1 Corinthians 10:11).
It was the Passover season and Jesus was teaching in the temple. A large crowd gathered to hear Him due to His reputation for speaking profound words of love and performing powerful works of God. Yet no sooner had this crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders showed up.
“As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:3, NLT). These leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their authority. He represented a new phenomenon whose teachings exposed their rigid, self-justifying practices. Now “they were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him” (8:6). They asked Him whether the woman should be stoned according to the Law.
The scene unfolds dramatically: “Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, ‘All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!’ Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more’” (8:6-11).
What a powerful moment. Not only had Jesus defused a highly charged situation but He had literally saved a person’s life. Everyone on the scene was transformed by what happened—not just the accused, but also the accusers and even the audience.
Jesus used the moment to deliver one of His most famous teachings: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (8:12). God’s light in that moment transformed everything.
My dear friend, God’s forgiveness has no limit. Jesus told His disciples, “If [thy brother] trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him” (Luke 17:4)
Can you believe such a thing? Seven times a day this person willfully sins before my very eyes, then says “I’m sorry.” And I am to forgive him—over and over? Yes— and how much more will our heavenly Father forgive His children who come in repentance to Him. Don’t try to reason it out! Don’t ask how or why He forgives so freely. Simply accept it!
Jesus did not say, “Forgive your brother once or twice, then tell him that if he ever does it again he will be cut off. Tell him he is an habitual sinner.” No! Jesus called for unlimited, no-strings-attached forgiveness!
It is God’s nature to forgive. David said, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm 86:5). God is waiting right now to flood your being with the joy of forgiveness. You need to open up all the doors and windows of your soul and allow His Spirit to flood you with forgiveness.
John, speaking as a Christian, wrote, “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
According to John, the goal of every Christian is to “sin not.” That means that the Christian is not bent toward sin, but instead, leans toward God. But what happens when that God-leaning child sins?
“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. . . . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 2:1 and 1:9).
Lay down your guilt, my friend. You don’t need to carry that load another minute. Open up the doors and windows of your heart and let God’s love in. He forgives you—over and over again! He will give you the power to see your struggle through to victory. If you ask—if you repent—you are forgiven, so accept it—now!
One of the most encouraging scriptures in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” Then Paul goes on to describe those earthen vessels—dying men, troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down. And even though never forsaken or in despair, those men being used by God were constantly under the burden of their bodies, waiting anxiously to be clothed with new ones.
God mocks man’s power. He laughs at our egotistical efforts at being good. He never uses the high and mighty but, instead, He uses the weak things of this world to confound the wise.
“For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not . . . that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
Does that ever describe me! Weak thing, foolish thing, despised thing, not very noble, not very smart. Yet in His perfect plan—the greatest mystery on earth—God calls us in our weakness. He puts His priceless treasure in these earthen vessels of ours because He delights in doing the impossible with nothing.
I saw Israel Narvaez, Mau Mau gang leader, kneel and receive Christ as Lord. It was not just an emotional, surface experience—he really meant it. But Israel went back to the gang and ended up in prison, an accessory to murder. Did God quit on him? Not for one moment! Today Israel is a minister of the gospel, having accepted the love and forgiveness of a longsuffering Savior.
Have you failed? Is there a sin that so easily besets you? Do you feel like a weakened coward, unable to get the victory over secret sin? But with that weakness in you, is there also a hunger for God? Do you yearn for Him—love Him—reach to Him? That hunger and thirst is the key to your victory. That sets you apart from all the others who have been guilty of failing God. You must keep that hunger alive. Keep thirsting after righteousness. Never justify your weakness, never give in to it, and never accept it as a part of your life.
Jesus ordered His disciples into a boat that was headed for a collision. The Bible says He “constrained [them] to get into a ship” (Matthew 14:22). It was headed for troubled waters; it would be tossed about like a bobbing cork; the disciples would be thrust into a mini-Titanic experience—and Jesus knew it the whole time.
Where was Jesus? He was in the mountains overlooking the sea, watching the disciples and praying for them not to fail the test He knew they must go through. The boat trip, the storm, the tossing waves, the winds were all part of a trial the Father had planned. They were about to learn the greatest lesson they would ever learn—the lesson of how to recognize Jesus in the storm!
At this point the disciples recognized Him as the miracle worker, the Man who turned loaves and fishes into miracle food. They recognized Him as the friends of sinners, the One who brought salvation to every kind of humanity. They knew Him as the supplier of all their needs, even paying their taxes with money from a fish’s mouth.
They recognized Jesus as “the Christ, the very Son of God.” They knew Him as a teacher, teaching them how to pray, to forgive, to bind and to loose. They knew He had the words of eternal life. They knew He had power over all the works of the devil. But they had never learned to recognize Jesus in the storm.
This is the root of much of our trouble today. We trust Jesus for miracles and healing. We believe Him for our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins. We look to Him as the supplier of all our needs. We trust Him to bring us into glory one day. But when a sudden storm falls upon us and it seems like everything is falling apart, we find it difficult to see Jesus anywhere near. We can’t believe He allows storms to teach us how to trust. We are never quite sure He is nearby when things get really rough.
There was only one lesson for the disciples to learn in this storm—only one! A simple lesson—not some deep, mystical, earth-shattering one. Jesus simply wanted to be trusted as their Lord in every storm of life. He simply wanted the disciples to maintain their cheer and confidence even in the blackest hours of trial. That’s all!