Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 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. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Here is the question we must answer: what does it mean to have spiritual life, to have true fellowship with God while we live here on earth? The Pharisees and this worldly church-woman sought to purify the spirit by keeping the flesh clean. They believed they could solve the spiritual problem of sin with the solution of physical abstemiousness. But no, says Jesus, all that you do will never solve the problem of the human heart. It is what comes from the heart that determines one’s standing before God, and the uncleanness that Jesus cites reveals the truth of Jeremiah’s lament, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
Jesus knew that there was no one on earth who could do anything to become right with God. We are spiritually dead without a Saviour, though we may be physically alive. Only through the work of God and the forgiveness of sins can there be spiritual life. This is what Jesus revealed to Jairus, to the invalid woman, to the Gadarene demoniac. This is the truth to which the Nazarenes and the Pharisees were blinded; blinded, we must say, by their belief that they were good enough to secure their own salvation. They sought no help from Jesus: they saw no need, they had no love, they spurned any commitment, and they despised His power. They refused to reach out in need, so the Lord of heaven and earth could do no miracle in their lives. Adam’s sin reigned in their hearts, as it does in each of ours without the Saviour’s touch. The poisoned spring is there in your own heart. Recognize the source of evil; then you can know the nature of the cure. Nothing can cure the sinfulness of the human heart but the perfect sacrifice of Christ. May God give us grace to see the totality of our need, that we may forsake vain works and hold out our hands to Jesus, the Son of God.
What does it mean to have spiritual life?
Why can humanity not work their way to God?
How does this affect our understanding of how we are saved?
What is grace?
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