The Mystery of Simplicity

Theme: Hidden in Plain Sight
Mark 7:31-37
Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus8 charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”


To the lover of mystery novels, part of their appeal is the challenge they present: to solve the story’s puzzle using the clues scattered throughout its pages. The solution can always be deduced from information the author has provided—train schedules, ticket stubs, furniture arrangements, missing manuscripts, clothing of a telltale color. But the reader must determine which clues reveal the truth, which have no bearing on the case, and which will deliberately lead to the wrong conclusion. The answers are there, but they are mixed in with falsehoods and irrelevancies, “hidden in plain sight.”
Mark makes no claim to be a mystery writer. On the contrary, his purpose is to make Christ known, to remove all doubt about His identity and His mission. But in the Gospel of Mark we do see a phenomenon similar to something in the mystery novel: Jesus’ words and deeds provided all the necessary clues to His identity, yet even His closest disciples often failed to understand their significance. They did not know Jesus as He really was. He was hidden in plain sight.
Jesus’ ministry in chapters 7 and 8 is a public one. Mark 7:24 notes that, “He entered a house and would not have any one know it; yet He could not be hid.” Jesus could not be hid, for Jesus had what all people need. We see in Jesus the fulfillment of His own statements about the ministry: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:26-28). Jesus could not be hid because, as the greatest, He was the bondslave of all. His love for humanity drove Him to this kind of life.
And yet on another level, Jesus was hidden. We have seen Jesus forbid certain people to tell about their healings. We have seen Him command the demons to keep silent about His identity. These actions by Jesus were intended to thwart those who would destroy His mission or subvert it for their own purposes. Though His ministry was very public, Jesus did not permit in- formation about Himself to be given out indiscriminately.


  • What about Christ’s ministry was a mystery to his audience then?
  • What about Christ’s ministry is a mystery to us now?
  • Why does Jesus forbid people from talking about the healings and miracles he performed?

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