There is something about a familiar story that causes us to pass over details. I discovered that recently while reading from the Gospel of Mark. Having read this Book numerous times, I was surprised that two words suddenly stood out, as though I was discovering them for the first time. What were they? “He sighed.” The one doing the sighing was Jesus.
Mark 7:31-35 gives us the full account. “Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’ that is ‘Be opened’. Immediately his ears were opened and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly.” (NKJV)
I began to think about circumstances that make us sigh. For the most part weariness is the greatest contributor to these almost involuntary sounds. Occasionally we breathe a sigh of relief, but that, too, is indicative of deliverance from a burden or suspense. Webster defines the word in these terms 1) to take a deep audible breath (as in weariness or grief), 2) to grieve or yearn.
A sigh is a breath of emotion. So the question becomes; what made Jesus sigh just before he intended to heal this disabled man? Was He weary from the long journey and the needy crowds that pressed in on Him everywhere? Perhaps, but I don’t think that was it. His sigh was deeper; a sorrow at the unnecessary condition into which humanity had thrust itself. Ears were never created for silence, nor tongues for confusion. The maladies of mankind were not the design of the Maker who stood before this deaf, struggling man. They were the result of sin and Jesus had come to break its stronghold. This would be one of countless people Jesus would restore and with every healing touch, He moved closer to the cross where His suffering would achieve our ultimate healing.
It was not long after this miracle that Jesus faced another situation that caused Him to sigh. The Pharisees came. It was not out of need, but out of opportunity. They desired to test and discredit Him and so they asked for a miraculous sign from heaven. This time Jesus sighed deeply. He could have easily displayed His power, but denied their demand to prove Himself. He gave them nothing and for good reason. A sign would never have satisfied their unbelieving hearts, for faith is not dependent on sight.
These two approaches to Jesus remain today. Those who receive humbly and those who demand proof. Though the offer of salvation is for all mankind, it must be received by faith in the One who is and was and is to come. The day of proof is on its way, but until then, the choice is yours.
You are not just a face in the crowd. Jesus knows your name. He knows your story. He knows your frustration in dealing with sin and sorrow. He understands the words in your sigh and knows you need a touch. It is time to get alone with the Savior, for He is yearning to open your ears to His Word and loose your tongue to claim His grace.
Are you willing to receive Him? That choice will make you whole as never before and He just might breath a sigh once again for the joy of your salvation.