Mark 7:34-5 “He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means, ‘Be opened!’). At this, the man’s tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”
Several years ago we had a plumbing problem under our house. The washing machine kept backing up into the bathtub. We had a home warranty, so we called the home warranty service, and they sent out a plumber, but they weren’t able to get things flowing right. We tried various drain cleaners. We got another plumber. We had a friend try who had some experience with this sort of thing. Finally, my wife went to Home Depot, rented a snake, and got the job done right herself. No more messing around with an incomplete solution.
Jesus didn’t leave the man in our lesson half healed, in need of physical therapy or months of rehabilitation. He wasn’t going to have to visit doctors and speech therapists to finish the job. As soon as Jesus spoke the word, “Ephphatha!” the man’s ears were opened and he could hear. The miracle involved more than his ability to perceive sound. He knew how to process it as well. When we are infants, it takes years to understand what we are hearing. We have to listen for a long time to learn the language so that we know the meaning of the sounds that are entering our heads. Not this man. His ears were opened and he was able to speak plainly. It all made sense to him, and he could express himself as well as understand. Jesus’ solution for him was complete.
That’s nothing unusual in our Savior’s ministry. When Jesus healed the paralytic, he got more than strength restored to his legs. He immediately received the coordination and skill necessary to walk and run. I have read medical accounts of people who were never able to see receiving treatment that gave them their sight. It took them years to understand what they were seeing, to develop a sense of depth perception, to deal with peripheral vision. When Jesus heals blind men in the gospels, even the man born blind, they are immediately able to use the ability they have been given, even joining the crowds in following and praising Jesus.
In his saving work Jesus didn’t die for some sins or most sins. He sacrificed himself once for all. He didn’t do most of the work necessary to redeem us and give us eternal life. On the cross he declared “It is finished.” A member of my church was once talking to a friend about getting to heaven. The friend said, “I just want to make sure that I am going to heaven.” Our church member replied, “I’m a Lutheran, and I know that I am going to heaven.” That is not because he is a Lutheran of course, but because he knows the Bible’s promise. Jesus’ solution for us is complete.
Now you may be thinking, “But my life seems to be filled with a lot of half-complete and incomplete solutions.” Here is our problem: we forget that Jesus wants to do more than fix our immediate crisis and make us happy. More than that, he wants to grow us up in our faith. Paul reminds the Romans that we rejoice in our sufferings, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). James encourages us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). The author of Hebrews urges us to endure hardship as discipline. Why? “Later on…it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).
Any solution from our Savior that lacked these things would be less complete, not more, wouldn’t it? Jesus doesn’t let us down in this regard. He does everything better than we think, because his solution for our faith is complete.