Once again on the boundary of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus received a deaf and mute man. Jesus healed him by placing his fingers in his ears and placing spit on his tongue. Then he declared his ears to be opened so that he could hear and the bonds on his tongue were loosed. Mark’s description of this man’s difficulties is curious. It was as if his tongue had been imprisoned. However even though Jesus had restored the man’s speech, he didn’t want them to go about telling others what had happened; why was that? It seems that Jesus often kept to himself so that he would not become increasingly popular and precipitate the time of his death. In fact, it was Jesus’ popularity when he entered Jerusalem one last time, that motivated the religious leaders to implement their plans to arrest and kill Jesus. It was not that Jesus didn’t care for the people, because he knew that in time his disciples would go out and proclaim the good news and heal the sick. Rather he had come to do what his disciples could not do. He had come to prepare his followers and to give his life as a ransom for many; so he was on a timetable. He had to have sufficient time with those he had appointed as apostles, that is those he would send out to proclaim the kingdom.
Jesus’ actions reveal a different perspective than what we often have. He was patient and stayed focused on his purpose, rather than being distracted by the urgent. At one time he told his brothers that anytime was opportune for them, but not for him (John 7). Jesus knew that his popularity could provoke the people to attempt to proclaim him king, which was not his purpose. He declared as much to Pilate, when Pilate asked him if he was a king. Jesus replied “yes”, but that his kingdom was not of this world. Man always tries to transform this world into God’s kingdom, but God’s kingdom is about transforming the hearts and minds of men.