Ministry Apart From the Crowds: Sight Without A Voice and Hearing

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded by John Mark. More specifically, today’s passage begins with the thirty-first verse of the seventh chapter and continues through to the tenth verse of the eighth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find Jesus and His disciples leaving the coasts of Tyre and Sidon after having just ministered to a Gentile woman and the need she presented unto Him. In the preceding set of verses you find Jesus traveling to the coasts of Tyre and Sidon and John Mark seems to provide no indication why Jesus felt compelled to go into a region which was outside the borders of Israel. What’s more, is that John Mark goes on to write and record that not only did Jesus want to be hid when He entered into a house within these coasts, but when the woman whose daughter was possessed, oppressed and tormented by an unclean spirit, Jesus initially did not and would not help her. Despite the fact that this woman initially came unto Jesus and falling at His feet begging and entreating Him to minister to her young daughter who was so tormented and oppressed, Jesus declared unto the woman that it was not right to take what belonged to the children of Israel and give it unto those outside the inheritance and heritage. It’s quite interesting that when you read this passage of scripture you will find this woman’s need bringing Jesus out from the shadows and into the light, yet it wasn’t the need alone that caused Jesus to meet and minister to her need. If you read this particular passage you will get the strong impression that sometimes need alone isn’t enough. Although it is our need that captures the attention of Jesus, and although it is our need that seemingly brings Jesus out from the shadows, our need alone isn’t enough. There are times within our lives when the need we have within our lives—regardless of how great that need is—is not enough to bring Jesus to action. Pause for a moment and consider that reality for a moment. Pause and consider the fact that there are times within our lives when our need simply isn’t enough, and although it seemingly beings Jesus forth from the shadows into the light, He doesn’t initially respond to and meet our need. The question I have for you who are reading this passage of scripture is what you do and how you respond to those moments in your life when Jesus doesn’t immediately and instantly respond to the need that is present within your life. What do you do when Jesus doesn’t immediately respond to the need that is present within your life, and instead seems to push you away?

Before we even come to that which is found in this particular passage of scripture, we find Jesus traveling and journeying into the region of Tyre and Sidon where He would be met with and by a woman whose young daughter was home possessed, tormented and oppressed by an unclean spirit. Although this woman came unto Jesus and fell down at His feet and worshipped Him while also entreating Him that He would meet the need of her young daughter, Jesus initially declares unto this woman that it wasn’t right to take what belongs to the children of Israel and give it unto those outside the inheritance and heritage. Pause for a moment and consider this tremendous reality that although this woman came unto Jesus, although this woman fell down at His feet, and although this woman begged and entreated Jesus to meet and minister to the need of her young daughter, Jesus seemed to deny her request. How truly incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that it is possible for us to come unto Jesus, it is possible for us to enter into His presence, it is possible to fall down before Him and worship Him, and to even beg and entreat Him In behalf of a need within our life, or within the life of another, and yet Ge initially chooses not to meet what need. Instead of Jesus declaring unto this woman like He did unto Jairus, saying, “I will go with you,” and instead of declaring unto this woman “Go thy way, your Servant is whole” as He did the Roman Centurion, Jesus seemed to reject this woman’s need. This actually brings me to something that is actually quite interesting and quite astounding when we consider Jesus’ responses to the needs we have within our lives. Based on that which we find and that which we read in the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, we find different responses to the needs which were presented before and unto Him. There are times when Jesus will declare unto us, saying, “I will go,” and He actually follows and walks with us in the midst of our need. There are actually times within our lives when Jesus will seemingly walk with us as we not only face the need within our lives, but also as He prepares to minister to and meet the need. There are other times when Jesus will declare unto us, saying, “Go thy way,” and He actually ministers to the need from a distance. Upon arriving st the place where we left the need, we find the need actually being met. Still, there are other times when Jesus neither says “I will go,” or even “Go thy way,” but seems to say “no”—this despite the severity of the need that is found to be present within our lives. There are time within our lives when Jesus May initially seem like she is not going to and will not meet the need that is present within our hearts and lives—despite us entering into His presence and worshipping Him while begging Him for mercy.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think to myself and consider the fact that just like Jesus walked with Jairus when He came unto Him begging and entreating Him concerning his daughter which lie at home on the verge and brink of death, so also there are times when Jesus chooses to walk with us as we face and endure the struggle and the suffering we walk through during our lives. I absolutely love how Jesus responded to this man by declaring unto him that He would go with him to where his young daughter lay, for it reveals and speaks something of absolute and incredible value and significance to us in this generation and within our lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are times when instead of immediately producing and releasing healing within our lives, and instead of immediately meeting the need we have within our lives, He chooses to walk with us as we continue to face the struggle and suffering we go through. I love that even while Jesus walked with this man to the place where his young daughter lay, his daughter was still lying in her bed on the brink and on the verge of death. What’s more, is that even while Jesus was walking with this man in the midst of the struggle and in the midst of the need, that which this man came unto Jesus to minister to actually seemed to collapse and fall apart. Scripture records how while Jesus was walking with this man to the place where his young daughter lay—together with His disciples—this man was met with a report from home that his daughter had died, and that there was no longer any need to trouble and bother the Master and Teacher. Consider that particular reality and concept for a moment, for while it was true that Jesus agreed to walk with this man in the midst of the struggle and need, this man was met with a report how that which He sought Jesus for was actually no longer needed because his daughter had actually died. Despite the fact that Jesus was walking with this man through and in the midst of His need and struggle, this man was faced with reasons to doubt and reasons to be anxious and troubled within his heart. Even while walking with Jesus through and in the midst of his need, this man was still faced with reasons to be anxious and to be fearful because of being met with a report that his daughter had actually died. What’s more, is that this man was met while walking with Jesus in the midst of and through His struggle with a report that his daughter had in fact died, and was then told there was no longer any need to bother, trouble and concern the Master. Pause for a moment and consider this scene within your mind and within the very depths of your heart and soul, and consider how you would feel if while Jesus was walking with you in the midst of and in the place of your struggle, you actually have reason to be met with anxiety, doubt, fear, trepidation, worry and unbelief because that which you sought Jesus for actually seemed to be in vain.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN JESUS AGREES TO WALK WITH YOU IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STRUGGLE, AND YET YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE PLACE WHERE YOU FEEL AS THOUGH YOU MIGHT HAVE SOUGHT HIM IN VAIN? What do you do when you come into the presence of Jesus, you enter into his presence, fall down before Him, worship Him, and entreat Him with the need that is pressing within and upon your heart and life, and He agrees to walk with you in the midst of your struggle and need, yet while Jesus is walking with you in the place of struggle and need, you are met with a report that causes your faith to be shaken and the doubt and unbelief within your heart to be exposed? What do you do when you find yourself walking with Jesus in the midst of and in the place of your struggle, and yet while Jesus is walking with you in the midst of and in the place of your struggle and need, you find yourself questioning whether or not you should have even troubled and bothered the Master to begin with? Notice that when this man was walking with Jesus in the place of His need and struggle, he was met with report from home that his young daughter had died, and met with a question concerning his need to trouble the Master any further. It’s worth noting that those who came to this man didn’t declare unto him that there was no need to trouble the Master to begin with, but that there was no need to trouble the Master any further. This is actually quite remarkable and astounding, for while walking with Jesus in the midst of our struggle and need, we find ourselves being met with and met by those who feel as though there is no longer any need to trouble Jesus. Oh, I can’t help but imagine what it would have been like for this man if Jesus had not intervened in the midst of this crossroads and crises of faith and instructed him to believe and not to be afraid. Is it possible that this man would and perhaps even could have turned and spoken to Jesus and declared that there was no longer any need for Him to walk with him to the place where his daughter lie? Is it possible that there at the intersection of faith and fear this man could have turned to Jesus and declared that there was no longer any need for Jesus to walk with him, and that it was okay for Jesus to turn back and go His way? Imagine what this scenario would and could have looked like had this man chosen to give into and respond to his fear and declare unto Jesus that there was no longer any need for Him to walk with him to the place where his young daughter lie. Oh, how absolutely incredible and wonderful it is to think about and consider the fact that this man was walking with Jesus in the midst of his struggle and need, and yet even while walking with Jesus in the midst of his struggle and need, he was met with reasons to be fearful, to doubt, and to even choose to send Jesus away from him, for he felt that He was no longer needed within the place of need.

I feel it necessary at this juncture to not only present unto you the scene which took place between Jesus and Jairus concerning his young daughter, but also with the scenario which took place between Jesus and the Roman Centurion. I believe it is absolutely necessary to think about and consider the fact that there are times within our lives Jesus declares unto us that it’s okay to go our way, for that which we have sought and entreated him for has been fulfilled and accomplished. I believe there are times within our lives when Jesus agrees to walk with us in the midst of our struggle, and in the midst of our need, and yet while Jesus walks with us in the place of our need and struggle, we are met with a reason and report causing us to potentially give in to doubt, fear and unbelief. Consider if you will the account of Jairus and Jesus walking together in the place of need and struggle, as well as Jesus and His encounter with the Roman centurion:

“And when Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto Him: and He was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at His feet, and besought Him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed Him, and thronged Him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched His garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned Him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And His disciples said unto Him, Thou sweets the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And He looked round about to see heart that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. And He said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. While He yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: Why troublest thou the master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? The damsel is not dead but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when He had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying, and he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat” (Mark 5:21-43).

“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believe, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour” (Matthew 8:5-13).

Each of these passages of Scripture are truly remarkable and incredible, for within the case of the centurion we find Jesus being willing to go with him, and to walk with him in the midst of his need and struggle, and yet the centurion was not willing that Jesus should travel and journey with him. Although Jesus was willing to walk with him in the place of his need and struggle, this man understood authority—and not only understood authority, but understood the authority behind a command—and as a result of this understanding, the centurion declared unto Jesus that he was not worthy that Jesus enter into his house and come under his roof. The centurion knew and believe that Jesus needed only speak the word and he knew his servant would be healed and made whole at the command of Jesus the Christ. Jesus was willing to walk with him and to go with him while walking in the place of struggle and need, and yet this man was not willing that Jesus come under his roof. In the case of Jairus, Jesus was willing to walk with him in the place of need and struggle, and was willing to accompany him as he traveled to the place where his daughter lie sick and dying prior to him coming unto Jesus the Christ. It’s worth noting that not only was Jesus willing to walk with Jairus in the place of need and struggle, but while Jesus was walking with him in that very place, he was met with an opportunity to doubt, and an opportunity to allow fear and trepidation to grip and seize his heart. This man was met with an opportunity to allow doubt and unbelief to seize and lay hold of his heart, and to actually allow Jesus to turn back and to no longer walk with him. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many of us find ourselves in this palace where Jesus not only agrees to walk with us in the place of need and struggle, but actually does walk with us in that place of need and struggle, and yet while walking with us in that place, we are met with a report we were trying to avoid, and faced with a choice whether or not we should even walk with Jesus any more in the place of our need, or even have Jesus walk with us in the place of that need. In the case of the Roman centurion Jesus was willing to walk with him as they traveled together unto the place of need, yet was met with faith that actually allowed Him to speak the word that brought about the healing which his servant so desperately desired. In the case of Jairus, Jesus actually walked with him in the place of his need and struggle, and it was while in that place of need and struggle that this man was met with an opportunity to walk no more with Jesus and for Jesus to no more walk with him. In the case of the woman within the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus initially chose not to minister to the need that was in her life, and it was almost as if Jesus was trying to draw forth from this woman a response to her need not being met, and a response to an initial denial of her need. It’s almost as if although this woman’s need actually caused Jesus to be brought forth from the shadows, Jesus was drawing forth a response from her that would in fact cause Him to minister to her need and that of her daughter. It was this woman’s need that caused Jesus to be revealed when He was previously concealed, yet it was this woman’s response that actually brought about the deliverance and freedom of her young daughter who lie at home tormented and oppressed by an unclean spirit.

When you come to the final passage of Scripture within the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel of John Mark you will find Jesus departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and coming unto the Sea of Galilee. There in this particular place there was one brought unto Him that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. This man who was not only deaf, but also unable to speak was brought into the presence of Jesus in order that He might put His hand on him in order that he might be made whole and healed of being deaf and dumb. That which Mark writes and records concerning this particular encounter is actually quite remarkable and astonishing, for instead of Jesus healing this man in the midst of the crowd and in the midst of the multitude, Jesus chooses to take this man aside away from and apart from the multitude in order that they might be alone. Mark writes and records how Jesus separated this man from the multitude and from the crowd in order that He might do for him that which he desperately desired and needed within his life. Once Jesus and this man were separated and away from the multitude and the crowd, Jesus put both of His fingers in this man’s ears, spit, and touched His tongue, and then looked up to heaven, sighed, and then declared with a loud voice, “Ephphatha,” which interpreted means “Be opened.” I have to admit that I absolutely love what I find and what I read within this passage of Scripture, for it brings us face to face with something that is oftentimes overlooked when we think about Jesus ministering unto and meeting our needs. There were countless times and countless examples of Jesus meeting the needs of those who came unto, or those who were brought unto Him in the midst of the crowds and in the midst of the multitude. There were times when Jesus would choose to heal men and women in the midst of the crowds of people, and would choose to heal them in the sight and in the presence of all those which were present before and around them. There were other times, however, when Jesus would not minister to and meet the need of men and women in the midst of the crowd, but would actually take individuals aside and away from the crowd in order that He might do for them that which they desperately desired and needed. In the case of this man who was not only deaf, but also dumb and unable to speak, Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to take this man away from and apart from the crowd in order that He might do for him that which he desired, and that which he desperately needed. Instead of healing this man before and in the sight of the crowd that was before and around him, Jesus chose to separate this man from the crowd and bring him into a place where it was just the two of them. Oh, please don’t miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for this reality is something that warrants strong consideration, for there are in fact times when Jesus can and will separate and remove us from the crowd in order that He might minister unto us, and in order that He might do for us that which we desperately desire and long for.

MINISTRY AWAY FROM THE CROWDS! MINISTRY APART FROM THE MULTITUDE! PERSONAL AND PRIVATE MINISTRY! As I sit here this morning and read and consider what is presented before me, I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with and by the fact that there are times when healing takes place in the midst of crowds and multitudes, yet there are other times when healing takes place in a personal and private place away from and separated from the crowds of people. There are times when Jesus needs to separate us from the crowds and needs to separate us from the multitude in order that He might do within us and for us that which is so desperately needed within our lives. There are times within our lives when it is necessary to be removed from the crowds and removed from the masses in order that Jesus might do a personal and private work. The work of restoring this man’s ability to hear, as well as this man’s ability to speak was not done in the open and in the company and presence of the multitude and crowd, but was done after Jesus had taken this man and removed him from the multitude. There are times within our hearts and lives when the work that needs to be done within us cannot be done in the place of crowds and multitudes, but must be done in a personal and private place away from the eyes and ears of those which are before us. There are times within our lives when the work within us is one that must be done away from the and separate from the crowds, and then made manifest before and in the midst of the crowd. There are times within our lives when Jesus needs to take and remove us—perhaps from the comfort of the crowds, and from the comfort of others—in order that he might do for and within us that which is so desperately needed and longed for. This man could neither hear, nor could this man speak, and there in the personal and private place with Jesus, this man heard Jesus declare “Be opened.” How absolutely wonderful and powerful it is that it was there in that personal and private place of ministry that this man received healing and restoration within his physical body—healing and restoration of both his ability to hear, as well as his ability to speak. This man who was robbed of his ability to hear the world around him, and even engage and interact with the world around him was finally given his voice back, and was finally given back his ability to hear the sounds and voices that were present all around him. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this man to get his voice back, and to get his ability to hear the sounds, the voices, and the world that was all around him. I can’t imagine what it was like for this man to be able to see the world before and the world around him, and yet he couldn’t fully and completely interact and engage himself with it because he could neither hear, nor speak. This man was in the world, and this man could see everything around him, but he was completely and utterly robbed from his ability to fully and completely interact with those around him because of his inability to hear and speak.

IN THE WORLD, YET UNABLE TO INTERACT WITH IT! We have heard the phrase and expression “In the world, but not of the world,” and when I read and when I consider the account of this man and his inability to hear and speak, I can’t help but think that this man was present in the world, yet he could not fully engage himself and interact with the world. I can’t help but think about how many men and women there are like this right now—those who are able to see everything around them, are able to touch and feel that which is before and around them, and yet they are prevented from fully engaging themselves with and interacting with that which is before and around them because they have been robbed of their voice and robbed of their ability to hear. There are men and women present within our churches who are able to see everything before them in the house of the Lord, and yet they cannot fully and truly engage themselves in and with what is taking place before them, for they feel as though they have lost their voice and have lost their ability to hear. If I am being honest with myself, this is exactly how I feel when I enter into the house of the Lord. There have been countless times when I have entered into the house of the Lord, and although I am able to see everything that is taking place before and around me, and although I am able to touch and feel to a certain degree and measure, I am not able to fully engage myself in what is taking place because of feeling as though my voice and my ability to hear has been robbed and removed. Oh, sure I might be able to sing the songs that are being sung during the worship, and I may be able to sing the lyrics and words which appear not the screen and monitor before me, yet I don’t really have my voice, and I am not really responding the way I was created and intended to. Would it shock and surprise you to find out and discover the fact and reality that there are those who are present among us who might be able to sing the songs and choruses that are sung within the house of the Lord, and yet such individuals aren’t truly able to engage themselves and interact within the house of the Lord the way they were created and intended to. Such men and women are able to see that which is taking place before and all around them, and they are able to perhaps touch and feel that which is present before and around them, and yet they aren’t able to truly engage themselves in that which is before and around them because of their inability to hear and speak. Oh, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are men and women who enter into the house of the Lord, are able to see everything that takes place before and around them, are able to touch and feel everything to some degree and measure, and might even be able to sing along with the songs that are sung, and yet they aren’t truly free to engage the way they were created and intended to because they are present in the house of the Lord without a voice and without their ability to hear. I am convinced that such men and women are in a place much like this man who could neither hear nor speak, and who Jesus separated from the crowd and separated from the multitude in order that He might not only heal him, but also restore his voice and his ability to hear. It is my prayer as I am sitting here this morning that Jesus not only restore the voices of those who feel as though they have lost their voice, but also that Jesus would restore the ability to hear—hear the sounds and voices before and all around us, hear the voices of those around us, and even hear the voice of God within our lives. Oh that Jesus would take those men and women aside who have been robbed of their voice and their ability to hear, and that He would restore their voice—restore their voice in worship, restore their voice in prayer, restore their voice in fellowship, restore their voice in community—and that Jesus would restore their ability to hear both the voice of God, as well as the voice of those who are before and all around them.

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