You can’t know what it was like. You just can’t know. It was like darkness wrapping itself around me, cutting me off from life. Oh, I used to be the same as you! I used to be able to hear and sing. But then it started to fade. It became harder to hear and soon there was no music. The birds were silent. The wind made no noise. The children were mimes. I couldn’t talk right either. I tried! But only my wife could understand me – and she had trouble much of the time. It was like being cut off from the world. Like being sealed in a living grave. I could see the world going on around me. But that was all.
I had never heard my grandchild’s voice. Never been able to speak her name. It hurt so badly! There was so much I wanted to hear! Much I needed to say!
And one day my old friends came by. I could see they were excited. They made motions for me to get my things together and come along with them. I was not interested in much of anything by that time. I waved them away. But they were insistent. They got me up and started tugging at me as if they were in a terrific hurry. It was easier to go along than fight them off, so I went. Thank God, I went!
I remember the day like it was yesterday. The sun was golden and hot and the sky like a vault of blue over my head, with not a cloud in it. But I wasn’t in much of a mood to enjoy the day at first. I was a piece of baggage toted along. Whenever I tried to ask them what was going on, they just shrugged their shoulders and looked confused. They couldn’t even understand a word that I said.
And then up ahead I saw it. A crowd of people – and at the center of the crowd a man. We pushed and shoved our way through and then they brought me right to him.
How can I ever make you understand this man? He was so different! Most people, when they realized I couldn’t hear them, would just walk away with a shrug. Sometimes when I tried to talk, I could see them shake their shoulders in laughter. And I’d get mad and try to talk loud and their shoulders only shook the more. Well this man wasn’t like that. Not at all.
He looked at me and all of a sudden it was different. In that one look He was telling me: “You’re not alone, my friend. You’re not alone.” And I knew he was right. I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. He was in my world with me. I looked into His eyes and they seemed to be looking right down inside of me, reading the secret thoughts of my heart. I started to cry as hope stirred in me. Maybe he could do what none of the physicians could. Maybe. Maybe.
He reached out to me and took my hand in his, and led me aside, away from all the others. We stood looking at each other for a minute. And then He reached out his hands, took his fingers, and actually put them in my deaf ears. He then spit into one hand, wiped his finger in the spittle and smeared His spit on my tongue.
Then it was that I knew what was going to happen! I was going to be healed. At last! He turned those burning eyes of His up to the sky. He seemed to see things there that I couldn’t see. He sighed. It was a great sigh. His whole body shuddered. And He said – and as He said it I actually heard it, like a sound from a great distance and growing louder by the second: Ephphatha! Open up! OPEN UP!
And instantly I was hearing again! The birds, the crowds, His breathing next to me! I heard it all. And I opened my mouth and said: “I can hear!” And I said it, just like anyone would. Clear as can be. I heard it with my own two ears. Tongue tied no more!!!
The crowd went into an uproar when we came back -everyone turning to everyone else. “Was there ever anything like it? He does all things well! He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!”
I must confess. I went home then. But whenever Jesus was nearby I went to hear Him. You know what? The things He said – they just kept on opening me up. He saw, He spoke, He listened to a world that was so much bigger and better than the little world I had known.
I had been so closed off. So shut up in my own little world. He changed all that. He opened up those who would listen to Him. He showed us a world where the God who had made all things was not some cold and angry and distant being, but a loving Father, who really and truly cares about us – giving us the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the place we live. He showed us a world where the Father’s love sang out in the bird’s song and the waving of the grass. He showed us a world where we didn’t need to be worried or anxious as if we were on our own, without a Father. A world where we could live at peace with the Father’s care and die with joy, knowing that the Father would be enfolding us into His arms. He showed us a world where we don’t have to try to do things to make God love us – a world where God’s love is simply always there. Where we can reach out and touch others without fear or suspicion –giving them a taste of what it’s like to live the opened up life.
Now please, don’t get me wrong. The opened up life isn’t a life without trouble. No. He made that plain right from the start. If we allow God to open us up and live like that in this world, we are asking for trouble. He told us plainly that we have an enemy out to destroy us, out to keep us locked up in our own little worlds of fear. But He promised us that in all the troubles we go through in our lives, He will never leave us – told us He would use the troubles to make us ever stronger in Him.
And He didn’t just talk like that. He lived it. Died it. The people who didn’t want to be opened to this new way of living and loving, seeing and hearing, nailed Him to a tree and they thought that would shut Him out once and for all. They jeered: “Now we see how much Your Father loves you!”
But He’d told us that it was all part of the plan. By suffering and dying He was able to speak His biggest and final Ephphatha! “Open up!” He died on the cross and was laid in the tomb, but in the darkness of Easter morning His voice sounded again and the doors of hell and death burst open at the sound. “Open up!” Heaven itself opened up, opened wide, and all who have been opened up by faith in the Savior walk out of death and into a life that never ends. The opening up for them goes on and on forever. Always more He has to give. Always the opening up to hold more and more as we grow up into Him for eternity!
Let's come to Him and pray: “Open my very being Lord, to experience Your Father’s love. Speak Your ephphatha over me today!” Amen.