Jesus takes the Deaf man aside (away from the crowd)… There he can speak to the man without distraction. That’s seems to be one of our biggest weak points: distractions. The Deaf man was no different and you are no different either. Jesus takes us in our poor miserable sinfulness and pulls us out of our distractions and out of our silence.
He speaks to us.
He speaks words that we understand. He speaks our language. He speaks a Word that gets through all our man made garbage and sinks into the heart. For it’s what comes from the heart that is the tell tale of a man. Of our own doing it’s always a mess… but when Jesus rips out the weeds, tills the soil, cultivates and waters there…it’s of a new Spirit.
Away from the crowd, Jesus signs to the Deaf man to let him know what is about to change and what is the object of his performative Word: fingers in the ear, touching his tongue… spitting, sighing… and then what he always does… Jesus speaks a commanding and creating Word, “Ephphatha!” The Deaf man hears. Sinners are forgiven. The dead live. God’s wrath is taken away.
A moment alone with God: the Deaf man away from the crowd or you hovering with the Spirit above the font of your baptism. You’re there because God is calling you out of your distracted and sinful life. He has you there, to push you under the water, to push you away from your death… and to give you Christ’s life. He has you there only for a moment. Jesus has you there in order to graft you into the crowd that is his Church. And that’s exactly what he does: baptized you are no longer alone, no longer damned, no longer caught in the devil’s distractions, no longer separated from God.
Be open ears: to hear the Word of God. Be open chest: to have your heart of sin and death removed. Be open mouth: to be filled by God to declare His praise. The God-man, Jesus, was separated from his Father on the cross so that you could be brought to the midst of the Church, near to the Son, alive in the resurrection. Ephphatha! Jesus has done all things well. He even makes the Deaf hear, the mute speak, and the sinner forgiven.