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Bible Commentaries

Derickson's Notes on Selected Books

Mark 7

Verses 1-4

MARK CHAPTER SEVEN

At this point John adds a lengthy portion. It contains a rebuke of the people by the Lord in that those that had eaten of His miracle were seeking Him for food not spiritual blessing. John mentions in 6.26 "Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw signs, but because ye ate of the loaves and were filled. Work not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you:" He continues to reveal who He is and what His purpose is.

They sought an earthly king and He was only claiming to be God. They either took Him for a nut case or something spiritual that they did not want any part of. Not unlike many Christians today wanting things of this world rather than things of the next.

Christ declaring Himself to be from heaven in the middle of the synagogue at Capernaum would not have set well with the Jews.

All right, in this passage we have the Biblical basis for what your mother always told you - "Go wash your hands before you eat. This imperative was tattooed across our brains when we were kids and now we know why.

7:1 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash [their] hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And [when they come] from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, [as] the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.

Mark 6:53 mentions that they were in Gennesaret. Gennesaret is a town on the northwest coast of the Sea of Galilee.

The term translated "Pharisees" is a transliteration of the Greek term meaning separatist and "scribe" comes from the term from which we gain our word Grammar. Scribe is the word used for a secretary. Thus we see the Pharisees and their scribes coming to the Lord. I would guess that the scribes were a group to be avoided as well as the Pharisees. We are not told how many were there nor if each of the Pharisees had a scribe of their own or what the ratio might have been.

A little speculation might lead one to think they might have been an organized group of some sort that may even have had their own power of sorts and may even have had their own agenda or may have been following the Pharisees agenda.

Rather reminds me of myself though I am both rolled into one. I am my own scribe but I bring my computer with me to set things down for myself. This makes for a better relationship since I cannot argue with myself. Well come to think of it I do that as well.The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia follows the Scribes from the Old Testament where they were students and teachers of the Law, into the New Testament where they seemed to be similar in nature. They were the ones that taught the Law. Easton’s Bible Dictionary states that they were a part of the Pharisees thus a close tie would have been theirs as well as a sharing of agendas.

The Pharisees were full of themselves and were heavy into their interpretations of the Word. In fact their interpretations became their word and they followed the teaching from their word rather than the Word itself. Somewhat akin to the person who determines that smoking is wrong, but fails to give a Biblical principle to back up their teaching - they just proclaim their teaching that it is wrong.

In the case of the Pharisees they had their laws of purification, which were loosely based on the Word. They came to confront the Lord based on their teaching rather than upon the Word. This is not uncommon in our own day.

Years ago I was confronted for my "spiritual" problems. When I asked what they were I was told that I wore cowboy boots and sweaters to church rather than wearing normal shoes and a suit. Since I could not afford a suit and the boots were what I had in my life - only pair of footwear - I really cracked up at their confrontation. So serious were these men who were so concerned with my spiritual condition - I would guess that the Pharisees were just as concerned, though we already know they conspired to have him dead so this could well be part of their conspiracy.

Now note that these were not just any Pharisees; they were the ones from Jerusalem. When I worked at J.C. Penney the district manager would come sailing into town. Normally we had a few days warning so that we could get the store into shape. They were coming on serious business and so were the Pharisees.

Matthew Henry has a section relating to the washings of the Pharisees which might be of interest at this point.

"Now in this passage we may observe.

"I. What the tradition of the elders was: by it all were enjoined to wash their hands before meat; a cleanly custom, and no harm in it; and yet as such to be over-nice in it discovers too great a care about the body, which is of the earth; but they placed religion in it, and would not leave it indifferent, as it was in its own nature; people were at their liberty to do it or not to do it; but they interposed their authority, and commanded all to do it upon pain of excommunication; this they kept up as a tradition of the elders. The Papists pretend to a zeal for the authority and antiquity of the church and its canons, and talk much of councils and fathers, when really it is nothing but a zeal for their own wealth, interest, and dominion, that governs them; and so it was with the Pharisees.

"We have here an account of the practice of the Pharisees and all the Jews, Mark 7:3-4.

1. They washed their hands oft; they washed them, pugme¯; the critics find a great deal of workabout that word, some making it to denote the frequency of their washing (so we render it); others think it signifies the pains they took in washing their hands; they washed with great care they washed their hands to their wrists (so some); they lifted up their hands when they were wet that the water might run to their elbows.

2. They particularly washed before they ate bread; that is, before they sat down to a solemn meal; for that was the rule; they must be sure to wash before they ate the bread on which they begged a blessing. "Whosoever eats the bread over which they recite the benediction, Blessed be he that produceth bread, must wash his hands before and after," or else he was thought to be defiled.

3. They took special care, when they came in from the markets, to wash their hands; from the judgment-halls, so some; it signifies any place of concourse where there were people of all sorts, and, it might be supposed, some heathen or Jews under a ceremonial pollution, by coming near to whom they thought themselves polluted; saying Stand by thyself, come not near me, I am holier than thou, Isaiah 65:5. They say, The rule of the rabbies was - That, if they washed their hands well in the morning, the first thing they did, it would serve for all day, provided they kept alone; but, if they went into company, they must not at their return, either eat or pray till they had washed their hands; thus the elders gained a reputation among the people for sanctity, and thus they exercised and kept up an authority over their consciences.

4. They added to this the washing of cups, and pots, and brazen vessels, which they suspected had been made use of by heathens, or persons polluted; nay, and the very tables on which they ate their meat. There were many cases in which, by the law of Moses, washings were appointed; but they added to them, and enforced the observation of their own impositions as much as of God’s institutions."

The verb used here is passive indicating that something outside of the Pharisees was at work bringing them into the situation. This might be that the Sanhedrim sent them or if not sent they were probably there due to their common effort to kill the Lord.

It would seem that they were driven by something or someone to their meeting with Christ. Their destiny with the Lord that they rejected was set by the coldness of their own hearts, those hearts that had heard of and possibly even witnessed some of the miracles done for their benefit.

Just a side note, the term translated "elder" is the Greek term that is used of the term elder in the church later in the New Testament epistles - someone that is a leader, and one that proclaims traditions. This would indicate that the elder in the church has some amount of clout when it comes to how the church is to be run; however that power is to be used in line with the teachings of Scripture, not the idea of elders as seems to be the case here.

The Elders and Pharisees seemed to have interpreted the Scriptures and made application and instituted application rather than Scriptural principles. Not that anyone does this today.

As you read this passage one must wonder if one or more of the elders were obsessive-compulsive in the area of keeping clean. What a life they must have lived to be constantly ruled by such laws and observances. (An obsessive-compulsive is a person who constantly cleans or washes due to a compulsion to do so. They might wash there hands numerous times before feeling that they are clean.)As an introduction to the next portion I would like to go back to the 1950’s and the church of that time. The fundamental churches were full of godly men who were doing their very best to teach the Word of God and they taught some "societal" principles. They saw the 40’s change into the 50’s and that meant the plain and common look of cars and fashion was changing. Things started looking sharper and classier in the 50’s and these men saw the "new" look of women’s fashion and makeup as something that was not proper for the Christian woman.

They felt that Christians ought to be different than the world and so we should, and they took the Biblical principles of not being of the world and not looking like a hooker and taught that makeup, ear rings etc. were wrong for the Christian woman.

Personally I do not feel that this is a bad principle even in our own day. A woman’s beauty as it was given by God, not Max Factor.

The problem that came in the 50’s is that the "application" became the teaching rather than the Scripture. Many women accepted this teaching, but many of the teenagers did not. The women knew that the application was just that, application from the Word; however the teens often missed this connection and saw it as a dumb rule.

My sister-in-law often tells of wearing ear-rings to church and at the door the pastor asked her when she was going to start wearing them in her nose. Not the way to win friends and influence people, nor Christian youth that feel you are teaching rules rather than the Bible.

I might add that most modern pastors/teachers miss the point since I constantly hear them railing against the preachers of the 50’s and their list of rules. No, it was not a list of rules, but principles from the Word of God. Today we have the result of a generation of ignoring the Scripture because they don’t like the "rules."

Today we have a Christian society that cannot be distinguished from the world because we look like, act like, and for all practical purposes are the world - we just call our worldly lifestyle "Christian."

Verses 5-13

5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, [It is] Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; [he shall be free]. 12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. The term translated "tradition" in verse five means "transmission" or as it is used a precept or tradition handed down. Standing at the singing/playing of the Hallelujah chorus is something that is handed down to us from years past as a tradition.

Mark correctly records their question - it was based on the precepts handed down from the elders and in all likelihood from elders that were long gone from the scene.

We won’t dwell on the accusations of the contemporary music group of today and their saying that "Traditional worship" is traditional - it is to some extent but traditions are not wrong - only if they are based on incorrect information. The elders of Israel had left the Word and were following the interpretation.

Traditional worship is usually and hopefully based on good Scriptural principles and good sound lyrics for the hymns. If the style does not fit into those parameters then it is tradition in the bad sense. If the music and methods are correct and true, then it is a tradition in a good sense.

The contemporary crowd do not realize it but they are stuck in tradition as well, they are all doing it the same way and little has changed from the beginning of the movement as to lyrics and method - as to method most anything goes but for the most part it is quite similar from church to church - traditional contemporary you might say.

In verse six Christ uses the term "hypocrite" which means an actor or one that assumes a role other than who they really are. These folks are on the surface honoring God but underneath are as corrupt as can be. No, that doesn’t sound like any Christians today does it?

Next time you are sitting in church listening so piously to the message, where is your mind where are your thoughts leading you? Our own piety would probably be questioned by the Lord at times as He did the Jews and rightly so.

Imagine the Jewish leaders and their feelings at this moment. They are there to spring their trap on him and take His life and he sees them and tells them they are hypocrites - they are there to cause His death yet ask questions that appear to be honest inquiries. They are hypocrites on multiple levels. They are there to cause his death but are innocent in their approach, they are supposed to be spiritual, yet they are lost and walking against the law, and they purport to follow the law, yet they follow the laws of man – a triple threat they were.

We have a little hint of the qualities of Scripture in this verse. "Written" is a passive perfect indicating something that was done from outside of the Word’s writing to cause its coming into existence and that the setting down of the Word was completed (that portion of it) in the past and that it will endure into the future to completion.

A little information on the perfect tense of the Greek language: "The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence."

From: http://www.ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/nouns1.htm

Now, it is of interest that The Old Testament has this clearly appointed pedigree, yet the King James only folks would argue that the Hebrew is not to be trusted but that the King James version is the only one that is to be trusted. Christ Himself told us in Mark that the Old Testament or at the very least this prophet was at His own time set and continuing on into the future as written, not to change - it was complete at the time of writing and not open for discussion or editing by people under the auspices of King James.

Christ sums it up quite well by using Isaiah 29:13 to rebuke the listener. We see in Matthew 15:8-9 "This people honoureth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men."

Now the term translated "corban" means treasury or the place where the gift boxes were contained. It was also that which a person set aside for God and His future reception. The Jews were telling their parents that all they had was dedicated to God thus when mom and dad had a need they had nothing to give them or assist them with. Neat trick if you can do it but I rather think that God knew of their little ploy and Christ smacks them up along side the head with it as the proof of their hypocrisy.

Not only does He call them hypocrites, but he adds to the end of His comments to them "and many such like things do ye." Rather well put them in their place and most likely added to their severe dislike for Him. Oh well, I’m sure the Lord was disappointed - NOT! He knew them and their hearts and informed them just in case they didn’t know themselves as He did.

There is a principle for life hidden in the account relating to caring for your father and mother. The Jewish leaders knew it was right and proper to assist their parents for they were avoiding taking care of their responsibility by attributing all they had to "corban."

As your parents age, you need to begin to look toward the day that they have needs that they cannot take care of themselves. With people living longer lives it is even more important.

Not all will need care, but many may. Years ago we lived across the street from a couple that was in their 90’s and still living on their own. He mowed the lawn, and was even known to get on the roof for repairs. On the other hand many are in a care home by their 70’s.

The point - care for their needs as they come along. Even if they are in a care facility you have a responsibility to visit them and see to their emotional needs for family. My wife did nursing home care for a time and many families would set their parents up in a care home and that was the last they would see them. Out of site and out of mind. Not much different than these leaders that have basically told their parents that they were out of luck.

Verses 14-23

14 And when he had called all the people [unto him], he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one [of you], and understand: 15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him candefile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. 16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 17 And when he was entered into the house from the people his disciples asked him concerning the parable. 18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, [it] cannot defile him; 19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? 20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

The Lord gives what is termed a parable. He tells the crowd that what you take in does not defile but that which comes out of the mouth defiles. His explanation to the apostles was plain and clear. If you eat anything it will not defile because it goes through the digestive system, however the utterings of the mouth and the musings of the mind produce many things one of which is evil. This seems, in my mind at least, to be another slam at the Jewish leaders. They worry seriously about unclean vessels and hands, yet they seem not to worry about the emanations of their heart - cutting off the parents.

The mindset of the leaders must have been really set in stone by this time. Not only were they hypocrites but they are evil speakers/livers. We must not be too hard on them because throughout church history we have had leaders both political and religious that were bent on the same lifestyle bringing shame to the God that they purported to serve.

The apostles still do not follow the parables for they ask the Lord for the meaning of this one as well.

It is of import to note that this was labeled a parable thus it must be interpreted as such. If you took this literally you could come to the conclusion that all the alcohol, food and whatever that you want to eat/drink would be okay and it would not harm you. You could also come to the conclusion that poison could not hurt you. This is not what Christ was saying, He spoke in general terms, a comparison of the mouth and the heart, not a detailed medical study on the digestive system.

There is a truth here that the body actually purifies that which enters the mouth. The body takes out and uses that which is good for the body and the rest is waste. The heart has no such purification process. If there is good there good will come forth, if there is evil there it will come forth.

This may be an indicator of the life of a person - if evil is coming from his heart and mouth then you know what is inside. If good is the result then there probably has been a work of the Spirit within. I would guess that for many years people would have figured me for lost - I was a swearing sailor for many years after I was saved. I had no discipling, nor training of any sort. The pastor led me to the Lord and I was off to the Navy with no idea of what the Christian life was about.When I finally, many years later, started going to church and learning of the Christian life I took care of the heart and the emanations of my mouth finally caught up with my spiritual character. There needs to be a tie between the soul and spirit in purifying the life.

Robertson ties this passage to Peter and his experience in Acts 10:14-16. This assumes that Peter is guiding Mark’s thoughts and writing in a major way which has never been proven, but widely assumed. I will leave that study to others that I trust will add some proof to their suppositions. Peter MAY have influenced Mark but then again, maybe he did not. The two passages do compliment one another in your Bible study, but do not make too much of Peter’s having made it so.

Vincent correctly draws the principle from the two passages that "Christ asserts that Levitical uncleanness, such as eating with unwashed hands, is of small importance compared with moral uncleanness" In short the washing of vessels and hands might be a good thing, but the moral cleanliness is much more important and to be minded. If you want to do both, then feel free, but be sure if you do the lesser to be sure to do the other.

Verses 24-30

24 And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know [it]: but he could not be hid. 25 For a [certain] woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. 27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs. 28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. 29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter. 30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.

Before looking into this passage a quick note about the swine herders in the account of the demoniac is needed. There is a lot of discussion about whether the swine herders might have been Jewish. I recently was in a discussion on an Internet forum on the subject. One man entering into the thread quite late stated flatly that this was an area of ten gentile cities. No proof only a statement as if it were fact and all that were involved should take it as truth.

This account may give indication that in fact Christ was in Gadara to reach Jews. In our present account a gentile comes seeking help for her daughter and Christ rejects her plea due to the fact that the children should first be filled, speaking of the Jews. Unless He was being untruthful with the woman this would indicate that he was not in Gadara to reach Gentiles.

Matthew records an even colder welcome to this Gentile woman in 15.23 Where it says "But he answered her not a word." It goes on to state clearly "But he answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." This is even a clearer statement of His intention in ministry.

The apostles ask Christ to send the woman away because she was causing such a stir. Such compassion they did show to one in need. Gill gives the apostles some latitude by saying thatthey wanted Christ to grant her wish so that she would leave, though the text does not seem to grant such latitude.

The woman’s answer changes Christ’s mind. Matthew mentions that it was her faith not the words presented though her words depicted that faith clearly. By speaking of herself as a dog of the masters she was placing herself under the umbrella of faith the same as the Jewish people. The Old Testament saint came by faith the same as we. They responded in faith to the revelation that they had.

The Old Testament set forth a method by which a Gentile could come to the Jewish fold and become for all practical purposes a Jew. The sad part of this provision was that the Jews saw their God as "THEIR’S" and did not share Him with others. This is not unlike the church of our own day and the lack of missionary work at present.

Let me give a thought in relation to this account of the dog under the table. We recently became possessed by a little puppy that was given to us by a woman who could no longer care for him. He has taken over the house, it is his and he allows us to remain only to feed and play with his royal being. He was not in the house but a few days when he found the accidental dropping of a piece of food.

It was only a short time before we found a puppy intertwined in our feet and ankles looking for such tiny morsels as might fall. Christ’s illustration for the woman was so very vivid to any dog owner. Her reply also seems to hint of coming from one that knew the actions of dogs.

Mark mentions that the daughter was vexed with an unclean spirit while Matthew mentions that it was a devil or demon.

Just a little hint as to the power of the Lord - He willed the demon be removed and it was so.

Tyre and Sidon are on the coast of Israel. Tyre is northwest of the Sea of Galilee and Sidon is about twenty miles north of Tyre. Tyre is also an area between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean on some maps while other maps label this area as Phoenicia. Robertson terms the woman as Greek by religion, Syrian by tongue and Phoenician by nationality/race.

Barnes points out that "Greek" probably is a more general term for all non-Jews. To the Jew there were Jews and Greeks. The woman may have been loosely a follower of the Greek religious thought, yet it would seem that she was in the process of change in her dealings with Christ and her faith in Him.

The verb relating to the demon having left the daughter is a perfect tense indicating that it was a done deal and all was well with the daughter. When the mother arrived home she found the demon gone, again a perfect tense, and the daughter lying in bed. Presumably from the fatigue of having had the demon in control of her life. "Laid" is a perfect passive, which would suggest that she was there due to some force from outside. Fatigue would fit the situation.What a wonderful day that must have been for the mother, to have brought about the healing of her child and probably from the tone of the text have found spiritual change in her life.

Verses 31-37

31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 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. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published [it]; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

The American Standard Version as well as others show Him leaving Tyre and going through Sidon and to the Sea of Galilee by way of Decapolis. Now, Decapolis is to the southwest and southeast of the Sea so His route is of interest. The majority is on the east of Jordan. It is a group of ten towns and their surrounding areas.

Evidently He was trying to avoid crowds or at least the Jewish leadership so was not traveling the normal point to point route. It is also possible that he was ministering as he went since Sidon is north of Tyre.

From the map the most logical route would have been to travel south from Sidon past the towns and then east into Decapolis then north to the Sea of Galilee. To have gone east from Sidon would have taken Him out of the way to get to the Sea via Decapolis. Robertson agrees that Christ approached the Sea from the southwest when he makes note that Christ avoided the area east of the Sea due to the ruler over that area.

Further information that may relate comes from Matthew when he mentions that Christ went up into the mountain after the trip in Matthew 15:29. Mt Tabor is just southwest of the Sea.

Christ encounters another in need of His miracle power.

One might assume that the speech impediment might have been due to the deafness and this might well be so. The deaf have a hard time learning to speak due to the lack of being able to hear how words are formed. The text mentions that the man spoke plainly thus there was a double miracle. There was the miracle of healing his hearing and the other miracle in allowing him to be able to speak normally. A deaf person that begins to hear must learn to speak plainly it is not automatic.

The people asked Christ to touch the man, evidently knowing that this was a possibility with the Lord’s healing abilities. Indeed, we know that Christ could speak or will someone healed but in this case He chose to go through another method. He chose to take the man aside and then touch him in two different ways. It is of interest that Christ spoke to one of the Trinity during this healing. It is recorded "And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened." Gill and Matthew Henry understand this to have been the Father, however I would lean toward it being the Spirit the power behind the miracles of the Lord.

Wesley takes it completely different - that it was not a request but that "This was a word of SOVEREIGN AUTHORITY, not an address to God for power to heal: such an address was needless; for Christ had a perpetual fund of power residing in himself, to work all miracles whenever he pleased, even to the raising the dead, John 5:21, John 5:26."

Robertson mentions that "Ephphatha" was an Aramaic word brought into the Greek that related to being unbarred. It has the idea of be opened thoroughly and it is a passive indicating that the opening would come from without.

It mentions that He again wanted little notoriety over the occurrence. Verse 36 tells us "And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;"

It would seem from the wording that Christ spoke to them more than once indicating a length of time that He was around the man and his acquaintances.

We have no further information relating to this incident since Mark is the only one to record it for us.

Now to the part that everyone is looking for an answer for. Well relax as there will be no answer here either. Why Christ touched the man’s ears and touched his tongue after spitting on His finger is unknown to me as well as all others that read the passage. We just are not told so we are left to speculation.

If I were to speculate it was a form of nonverbal communication. This man was brought to the Lord for healing even though the man had no faith, nor knowledge of the person he was taken too. Now Christ knew this and so He would have wanted to put the man at ease. How would you put a man at ease, by gestures that were non-threatening. By touching his ears before there was hearing would have drawn the man’s attention to something relating to his ears and might have softened the shock of hearing sound all of a sudden. Why touch his tongue? Which man’s tongue was touched. My guess would be that Christ spit and touched His own tongue. This might have signified to the man that Christ was getting rid of something distasteful from the tongue such as the impediment.

Some feel that saliva was thought to have had medicinal effects in this time of history. One commentary mentioned that cultic healers used saliva in their incantations. I suspect it was just how Christ communicated with the man to the man’s benefit.

Some feel Christ took the man aside as something secretive, yet if Christ knew of this man’s uneasiness He may have taken him aside just as a calming effect.Just as an aside, we tried a new church recently and the special music was introduced. The pastor stepped to a boom box stereo and turned it on. A heavy set teen was at the front by then. As the music began the girl began to sign. Now the first thing that struck me was that no one or at least few in the congregation knew signing so there was absolutely no edification. Further, as the music got to rockin and the girl got to swayin, I noticed I could not make out the words to the music due to the loudness of the loud instruments.

Result of the "special music" - we were treated to seeing an overweight young woman swaying to a rock beat in the middle of worship. Edification? Not so much. Now I trust that this might sharpen the pastor’s resolve to create a music policy for his church that states that he will clear all music performed in the church.

One last point to the section - the man was deaf and dumb so most likely knew little of Christ or what/who He was. He probably did not know much, if anything about Judaism either. Why make such points? Because many of the phony "Faith Healers" when they cannot heal someone suggest that the person did not have enough faith to be healed. This is not so. In this case there most likely was no faith on the part of the man.

Healing in the time of Christ due to the gift of healing was a gift, not dependent upon the faith of the person healed but simply the power of God manifested through the gift. In James it mentions prayer in relation to healing. Again it seems that the faith is on the part of others praying for the sick. The one healed does not necessarily need to have the faith. James 5:14-16 "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

We have seen much of the Lord’s work and of His travels to reach others with His message. We have seen His compassion for the plight of others. We have seen His power presented before multitudes, yet He is still not seen as the one that He truly is, the Lamb of God present to take away the sins of the world. He presented Himself and all the people were interested in was the hype and show of the miracles that could benefit them.

It is sure that the apostles and some of the followers were learning of Him, but as to recognizing Him as the supreme sacrifice, no they did not. They had no concept that He was there to die, that He was there to suffer. They were still looking for Him to make political hay and set the Jews free of their oppressors.

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Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Mark 7". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/mark-7.html.