Flashback Episode — Stay Silent or Share Jesus: Mark 7:31-37

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After traveling to the region of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast, and both ignoring and insulting a woman needing help, Jesus then leaves the area and travels to about the opposite corner of the area where He focused His ministry – an area called the Decapolis. This trip is fascinating on several levels.

Looking at how the gospel writers focus on many of these events, and how they transition between the places Jesus went, it is almost as though Jesus traveled to specific areas just to help one person who needed help. In our last episode, we focused in on a trip Jesus made to Tyre and Sidon and specifically how it may have been a trip to help just one person. In this episode, we look at another miracle that appears to help another single person.

Let’s read what happened before discussing several things we can learn from this event. Our passage is found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 7, and we will read it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 31, Mark tells us:

31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.

Pausing briefly, to give you a little context of the geography, Tyre and Sidon were far Northwest of Galilee, and the Decapolis region was south east of Galilee. Picking back up in verse 31, we read:

32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

In our passage, I wonder if you noticed something. In the gospel record, the region of the Decapolis is mentioned only three times. The first time we see this location mentioned, it is part of a transition statement in Matthew’s gospel describing the crowds that followed Jesus. Matthew 4:25 tell us that, “Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Other than this passing statement, Matthew doesn’t mention this region again, and the context for this verse doesn’t place Jesus in the Decapolis. Instead, the context describes Jesus traveling through Galilee instead.

The next time the Decapolis is mentioned, we learned that this was where the demoniac went following Jesus healing him. If you remember earlier in our year of miracles, we learned about a special trip Jesus made across the lake to visit this man. On the trip across the lake, a storm freaked the disciples out while Jesus slept. When they arrived on the far side, they met a man who was possessed by a legion of demons, and Jesus cast the demons out into a herd of pigs.

This would likely have happened on the Decapolis side of the lake. Those who were present from the area urged Jesus to leave there, and when the man Jesus healed wanted to go with Jesus, Jesus instead commissioned him to tell others what Jesus had done for him. Mark’s gospel tells us in chapter 5, verse 20 that “the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him”.

The last time we read about Jesus visiting the region of the Decapolis is for this single miracle. Word had spread about Jesus’ miracle working abilities, and those living in the Decapolis wanted to see a miracle. The healed demoniac had spread the news about Jesus throughout the region, and it is likely that many of those present bringing this deaf, mute man wanted to see a miracle because of what they heard from the former demoniac.

However, Jesus knew that this crowd wasn’t keen on praising God. They wanted simply to praise Jesus, give Him glory instead of God, and have bragging rights to their friends that they had seen a Jesus-miracle. Jesus pushes back against the selfish current of this miracle while also desiring to help this man. Because of this, we read that Jesus takes the man aside and away from the crowd before healing him.

After healing the man, Jesus tells them to keep quiet about what happened, but the more He wanted people to stay silent, the more people would talk about it. In a way, I find this funny, because this brings out an interesting aspect of human nature – specifically the part of our nature called rebellion. What better way to rebel against Jesus’ wishes than to tell others about what Jesus had done for them when Jesus wanted them to stay silent.

Was this some elaborate scheme Jesus used to get people talking? Probably not, but it’s hard to say.

If Jesus wanted people to talk about what He was doing, He could have simply said so, but if He did this too often, it might appear like He wanted the people to praise Him rather than pointing the praise to God. However, there were times when Jesus did ask people to share what God had done for them, like what Jesus had told the demoniac to do.

However, it is more likely that Jesus simply didn’t want to draw the attention of crowds because He wanted to be free to travel to see those who God wanted to help. When the crowds were present, it made it difficult for those who really needed help to come to Jesus, and it made it more difficult for Jesus to travel to the places where He could help others. Jesus also knew that His time was limited, and that teaching His disciples was also important.

But those in the crowd who rebelled to share what Jesus was doing in their midst share another key idea regarding our human nature. This other idea is that we are wired to share what we find amazing or noteworthy. Every miracle Jesus did was significant, special, and it was not something that had happened before, and because of this, sharing what Jesus was doing was the most natural thing for people to do.

However, what about your life and mine? Is it easy to share what Jesus has done for you today? Is it easier to stay quiet about Jesus when you are not with friends?

While I don’t know what Jesus has done for you, I know that depending on the social circles you are in, some of them welcome stories about what Jesus has done for you while others do not. Many of us on this podcast right now likely have family or friends who they can share with and family or friends that dislike hearing about Jesus.

I don’t know if God has called you to tell everyone your story or if He has called you to be a silent witness? Whichever way God has called you is between Him and you. However, if you are a silent witness today, know that tomorrow God may call you to speak up. Silent witnesses aren’t silent forever, and the more God has done for you the more He will call you to speak up.

Don’t be afraid of sharing the good news. Be ready and willing to share it with everyone who will listen, because when this life is over, and when history is finished, the only news that will matter is news that centers on Jesus and what He has done for all of His people!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always seek God first and be ready to share your faith with anyone and everyone God opens the door for you to share with. Let God lead and guide you to share with others and let God and Jesus be the center of your story.

Also, always keep praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to Jesus each and every day. A strong relationship with God is built on regular prayer and study, and with this foundation, you will have a strong, solid faith that can weather the storms of this life.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or fall away from where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 31: In the last miracle the gospels record that took place in the Decapolis region, we discover something significant through what Jesus asks the crowd to not do. Discover if this is something relevant for our lives today or if it was only something for that certain place and time.

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