From Cross to Crown
We have often heard it said that if we will not bear the Cross we will not wear the Crown!
There can be no other way to Triumph, except through Trial. No other way to Victory without first a Battle, no pain – no gain, and no other way to the Crown, except by the Cross. Jesus came on a Journey, when he came to save us. He left the Glorious splendour of Heaven, came through this sin cursed and sick world on his way to Hell, suffered, bled and died on a Cross for you and me, and then returned to the Throne and the Crown. Why did he do it? The hymn writer says …- “Love moved him to die, and on this we rely, he has loved us, has loved us we cannot tell why, But this we can tell, he has loved us so well, that he laid down his life to redeem us from hell”
My focus today is on another journey of a similar kind (Jesus going out of his way), one which we read about moments ago from Mark’s Gospel. Mark 7:31-37
The passage opens with Jesus leaving the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon – heading back to Galilee. But, Jesus and His men do not go straight back to Jewish country. Verse 31 tells us that they went to “Decapolis”.
If you look at where they were and where they were headed to, you would see that Jesus and His men took the long way around. In fact, going through Decapolis to get to Galilee is like going through Derry to get to Dublin! Scholars tell us that a journey of this nature in those days might have taken as long as eight months on foot.
If this trip took that long, it would have represented about 20% of the Lord’s total earthly ministry! That is eight months of the Lord’s 3 year ministry of which we have no record? What was He doing? We can only speculate, but I would imagine that He was teaching them and training them for the difficult days ahead. When He and His men return, Jesus finds Himself under increasing attack by the Jews. This will be one of the last opportunities that He will have to be alone with His men
before He goes to Calvary and to the Cross.
It is also interesting that Jesus goes to Decapolis. If you will remember, the people of that region had asked Jesus to leave their country, Mark 5:17. Jesus had cast a legion of demons out of the Gaderene Demoniac. Those demons had entered into a herd of swine and the pigs had all drowned. The people of Decapolis then rejected Jesus and forced Him to leave.
Now He returns and they receive Him with open arms. Why the change? What made the difference? The answer can be found in Mark 5:19-20. That redeemed and released demoniac went home and told everyone he met what Jesus had done for him. He was such an effective witness that the people were eager for Jesus to come back to town, and when He did, they embraced Him. What a lesson for those of us who know the Lord. We should also be in the business of magnifying Him!
By the way, it blesses my heart to think that Jesus went back! They had rejected Him and He would have been justified had He never returned. But, Jesus came back and gave them a second chance! Aren’t you grateful that He didn’t write you off the first time you rejected Him? I praise His name that Jesus keeps on loving; He keeps on wooing; He keeps on drawing; He keeps on calling; until He gets what He’s after; – Thank God!
In this passage, Jesus comes to Decapolis and the people bring a deaf man to Jesus for healing. Jesus heals this poor man and the crowds marvelled. They saw His power and they were amazed. They said, “He hath done all things well.” Let’s watch Him work out this miracle and learn the lessons that are contained here.
First of all in v. 32 we see THE MAN AND HIS CONDITION
The Bible tells us that this man was “deaf”. The word means “to blunt or to dull”. It may have been that this man lost his hearing as the result of an injury; or he may have been born deaf. Either way, this man cannot hear. Not only was he deaf, but he also had a speech impediment. He could talk, but his speech was impaired. These two conditions often seem to go hand in hand. Because a deaf person cannot hear themselves saying words, they tend to have trouble using verbal language correctly. I will say more about his condition in a minute.
While this man’s condition is tragic, his deafness proved a blessing. This man, even though he was handicapped, had people around him that cared about him. They heard that Jesus was passing by and they brought their deaf friend to Jesus. They just believed that the man who had cast a legion of demons out of the demoniac, could heal this handicapped man!
Let me make a few observations about this business of physical handicaps before we move to the next verses.
First, there was something in the heart of Jesus that drew Him to the handicapped? He loved people who were often cast aside by others. Jesus spent much time ministering to those with physical infirmities – because He had a heart full of love and compassion for their needs. I would say that if you want to be like Jesus you should reach out to the handicapped and the disabled! He loved them and ministered to them and we should do the same. Besides that, handicapped people seem to be drawn to Jesus. And do you know why? It is because He accepts them and loves them just like they are. They are looking for that kind of love and acceptance from a society that often rejects them because they are different. Jesus loves them like they are, and so should we! There are many handicapped people who would love to hear the Gospel, if someone only cared enough to tell them.
Another observation that arises from these verses has to do with Heaven. I am glad to report to you that there will not be even one handicapped or disabled once they get there! There will not be a shrivelled body, a feeble mind or a paralysed frame in that glorious land! Those precious people, who have suffered so much in this world and have trusted in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, will be delivered forever from their wheelchairs, their crutches, their beds and their institutions. Their bodies will be made whole and their minds and memories will be renewed too! Praise the Lord!
A third observation serves to remind us that the physical healings Jesus performed are but illustrations of what He can do in the spiritual realm. You may have a good mind and a healthy body today. Thank God if you have! You might not be like the blind, deaf, crippled, paralysed or mentally challenged, yet if you are lost spiritually, you have a far more serious handicap than any physical handicap ever endured. If you are lost, you cannot hear God. You cannot see what He is doing. You cannot serve Him. You cannot work or walk for Him. Your spiritual body is crippled and if you die in that condition, you will be lost forever! That is a serious, a grave condition to be in today!
One of these days the physically and mentally handicapped persons who have trusted Jesus will leave their infirmities behind them forever. They will go to Heaven where they will get new bodies and perfect minds. But, if a person dies without Jesus, (if you die without Jesus) you will leave this world to face an eternity in Hell! That is far more serious than any physical handicap a person can endure here! A Serious Thought for us all. So much then for The Man and his Condition.
Secondly v. 33-35 show us
THE MASTER AND HIS CURE
The people bring this poor man to Jesus and He does a great work in the man’s life. I want to take a few minutes to focus on how Jesus ministered to this man.
The first thing I notice is that Jesus “took him aside”. The crowd expected Jesus to touch him right there and heal him. But, Jesus is a gentleman! He does not embarrass the man more than he already is. This man is deaf! He probably has no idea what is going on around him. Blindness and most other physical handicaps can be seen by others, and those who see the handicap make special allowance for the handicapped person. But, you can’t see that a person is deaf! Often people will grow impatient with a deaf person because they are having trouble understanding something.
Sometimes people treat the deaf like they are less intelligent than others just because they can’t hear. Often, the deaf are embarrassed by their condition and they withdraw into themselves rather than face a harsh staring public.
Jesus refuses to make a spectacle of this man. Jesus takes him aside and does a great work in his life. By taking him aside, Jesus is saying, “you are more than your problem, you are an individual and you are important to me! I care about you!”
Thank God for the personal ministry of Jesus! He doesn’t treat people like they are mere numbers. Just look at the ministry of Jesus. He healed many people, but His methods varied from case to case. He touched a leper. He put spit and dirt in a blind man’s eye. He made one blind fellow go to a pool and wash his eyes. Others He healed from a distance. Every case was different
and every case merited special attention from the Saviour!
He may have saved you and me by the same Blood and the same Gospel, – but I guarantee you that He used different methods in each of our lives. I love that about God! You can’t put Him in a box! He doesn’t always work the same way! But, there is one constant that you can depend on:- Jesus cares for you on a personal level. He will work in your life in a manner unique to you! You are special to Him and He will honour that special relationship in all of His dealings with you!
Jesus continues His special ministry in this man’s life. He cannot tell the man verbally what He is about to do, so Jesus uses a rough form of sign language to communicate His intentions. First of all, He sticks His fingers in the man’s ears to let him know that He is going to do something about his deafness. He spits on His finger and touches the man’s tongue to let him know that He is about to lubricate his speech. To some of you that may seem gross, but that is what Jesus did!
It would seem that Jesus is attempting to awaken faith in the man’s heart. He is trying to get the man to understand that something is about to happen in his life and that Jesus is going to bring about a change. Whatever the reason for His actions, Jesus reaches out and touches this man! Praise the Lord for the Master’s touch! He touched the sick and made them well! He touched the rot of leprosy and made it clean! He called to the stinking body of death and made it live! Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch the defiled. He wasn’t afraid of being defiled. He knew that sickness and death had to yield to His holiness and to His power.
Praise the Lord for His touch! When we could not get to Him, He left Heaven and came into this world to die for us. We could not touch Him, but He came to our world, lived among us, died on the cross to save us, and He touched us! Glory to God! He didn’t shy away from our defilement, but He took our sins upon Himself so that we might be saved, – He who “knew no sin, became sin” – 1 Pet. 2:24. The redeemed are saved, and the lost can be saved, because Jesus was willing to touch us where we were – He took our Bad to give us His Good!
By the way, if we are going to reach the lost for Jesus, we are going to have to go where they are. We are going to have to touch them where they live and work and play. We cannot isolate ourselves from them in our Comfortable Churches, we may have to leave our comfort zones? We must not be partakers of their sins, but we must make the vital connection of touch
if we would be effective for Jesus.
After touching him, Jesus looks toward Heaven. This act served two purposes. First, it told the deaf man where the healing was coming from. Jesus was looking to His Father and He was telling this man, via a kind of sign language, that his healing was coming from God above. This act of looking toward Heaven also demonstrated the Son’s dependence upon the Father.
Jesus often looked to Heaven for the help that He needed. We read that He did this at the tomb of Lazarus, John 11:41. Jesus lived a life of close communion with the Father – and the Father used Him!
If you and I would be as effective as we could be and should be, we must also live in close communion with the Father. We will be more effective in our outreach and we will be more effective in our ministry to others if we live close to the Lord. If you want to be used of the Lord, stay close and stay clean! Spend time with Him and spend time in His Word.
After looking toward Heaven, Jesus “sighed”. This word here used means “to groan”. Do you realize that it pains the Lord to see us in pain. Praise the Lord that we have a Saviour who cares! He is “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”, Isa. 53:3. He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”, Heb. 4:15. He cares about you and what you are facing in your life, and has promised you “rest” Matt. 11:28. So regardless of what you are facing today, you can find help and hope in Him!
Did you notice that His sigh of compassion immediately follows a time of communion with His Father? When one has been in the presence of the Almighty, the harshness of the human experience will become even clearer. The closer we live to the heart of God the more we can feel the heartache of our fellow man! The secret of compassion is a life of close communion with the heavenly Father! The closer our communion with God the more effective our ministry to the world around us!
Then, Jesus said one word, “Ephphatha”, which means “be opened”. When Jesus said this, the man’s ears were healed and his tongue was loosed. He could hear! He could speak! Oh, what a miracle! One command from Jesus and his life changed forever! One word from God and everything changes!
That is the power of the Word and the Spirit of God!
So much then for the Man and His Condition, – the Master and His Cure, now let us consider in verses 36 & 37 …
THE MULTITUDE AND THEIR CONFESSION
As soon as He has accomplished the miracle, Jesus tells the multitudes not to tell anyone else. He does not want to be identified as a Gentile Messiah. Jesus came to the Jew first and then the Gentile, Rom. 1:16. So, He tells them to keep quiet.
The tense of the phrase “charged them” suggests that He kept on commanding them to keep the matter quiet. But, they did just the opposite. He told them to tell no one and they told everyone!
What a contrast that is with the way we often are. He told them to tell no one and they told everyone. He commands us to tell everyone and we tell no one! Like those folks, every child of God should be in the publishing business. We should be spreading the news that Jesus is a life-changing, soul-saving Lord!
That is His command, That is our obligation, That is what He has equipped us to do, Acts 1:8. Most of us will argue “Well I didn’t feel led…”Jesus did not tell us to witness just when we “feel led”. He expects us to tell the world about Him. Get up and get to it, you’ve got a story to tell!
The Bible says that these people were “beyond measure astonished”. What they saw Jesus do was more than their minds could comprehend. It left them with their mouths wide open in amazement. They summed up what they felt about Jesus by saying, “He hath done all things well!”
That statement was a statement of faith. They looked at all they had known about Jesus and they voiced their approval of Him and His ministry. They considered His miracles and His ministry and they said, “He hath done all things well!” And if you think of it, is this not true in your life also?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Jesus went out of His way to help the hurting. It was not his way to walk on dusty dirty roads, He had walked on streets of Gold. It was not his way to eat with publicans and sinners, He had dined with the Saints and Angels. It was not his way to lie on a bed of straw in a stable, he had come from a Palace and a Throne Room. But Jesus went out of His way to come to a Cross so that you and I could also wear a Crown, and be seated with him on a Throne in the Glorious place we call Heaven. He went out of his way for a blind man, a lame man, a dead man and a deaf man, and he went out of his way for you. Will you go out of your way for him, (this week) will you first carry his cross so that one day you will wear his crown? Will you hurt in order to help?
One day a little boy came home from school and he looked rather sad. His mother said, “Honey, is everything all right?”
He said, “Well, I guess so. But, Billy came to school today and told the class that his daddy had died. They just buried his daddy yesterday”
Then he said, “Mum, Billy was so upset about his daddy dying that he just cried and cried.”
His mother said, “Well, what did you do?”
The child said, “I just laid my head on my desk and cried with him!”
You know – unless and until you have a heart like that you don’t have the kind of heart that Jesus had, – and that’s the kind of heart that we all need!
God Bless You … Amen