Sometimes when a news anchor interviews a celebrity, or political figure, they will dig into their personal lives. They want to get the story that their viewers are tuning in to hear. People like to get up close and personal—try to get to know the celebrities whom they either adore or disdain.
Could you imagine Jesus being interviewed today by George Stephanopolis or Matt Lauer? Jesus, now you’re the one who said, “Judge not lest you be judged”, but Jesus, come on, you seem to be pretty judgmental in your teachings. Can you explain this discrepancy? Jesus, you said, and I quote, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Do you think you’ll have a lot of followers being so closed minded? Can you explain why you, and not Allah, or some cow in India, are the only way to God. Jesus, as I read through your list of twelve disciples, I see that there are no women listed. You say that all people are equal, but doesn’t that look like you are a bit chauvinistic. Aren’t you worried that you are offending one half of the world’s population?
But we certainly don’t need the Today Show to help us get closer to Jesus. We don’t Good Morning America to help us see into the heart of our Savior. Jesus shows himself not through the lens of a camera or microphone, but through the Holy Scriptures and specifically, today through the pen of the Evangelist Mark. We get Up Close and Personal with Jesus Christ, personally tending to the needs of people and doing all things well—never failing us in any aspect of our needs.
1. A Savior who attends to us personally
Look at how Jesus operates among the people in the region of the Decapolis. They came to him with a man who was deaf and consequently could speak only with difficulty. They asked Jesus to merely place his hand on the man. They didn’t want to bother the teacher. They wanted Jesus to deal with the man’s problem and move on without taking much time at all.
But Jesus attends to personal needs personally. When Jesus fed the five thousand, and the four thousand, he could have just made it happen, when he healed the centurion’s servant or the calming of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus could have simply spoken the word and given this man his hearing and speech. But instead, in his divine wisdom, Jesus chose to demonstrate for all of us how he personally and carefully sees to the needs of each individual.
Jesus attended to this person in our text in a different way because he was concerned about the whole person who stood before him, not just his ears, not just his mouth, but his entire being, body and soul. Note that Jesus took the man aside. He didn’t want to be distracted by the crowds. He didn’t want to make this man a public spectacle. Jesus wanted his undivided attention.
He takes him aside to give him personal attention. Jesus puts his fingers into the man’s ears and heals the man’s hearing with his personal touch. After that, Jesus uses his own saliva and touches the man’s tongue. You don’t get too much more personal than that! Then he looked up to heaven and said, “Ephphatha” or “Be opened.”
Does God personally attend to your needs? When things go well—of course, God blesses us, he listens to our prayers—he couldn’t be more attentive. When things go the opposite of what we want—we think he looks the other way, doesn’t answer prayer, doesn’t care about what we go through.
Again, Jesus could have simply placed his hand on the man’s shoulder or head or even not touched him at all and still healed him perfectly, but he chose to do it this way instead.
If Jesus attends to our needs personally, then he doesn’t want us to treat him like a quick fix whenever we need him. But sometimes we treat prayer like the Yellow Pages: Let’s get him in hear quick and fix this thing. Jesus doesn’t treat us like we’re just faces in the crowd, but we wonder why he isn’t more attentive to our needs. Jesus rose again from death and we sometimes disregard his power and personal care.
After seeing him take personal care of this man in our Gospel, can we accuse Jesus of not caring just because we ourselves are struggling? After seeing him take the man aside and care for him can we accuse him of not knowing what’s happening in our lives?
We have only one real desperate need—the need to be right with God. Do you see how he devoted himself to fulfilling it? See how he died. As he was dying, he personally tended to the spiritual needs of the thief on the cross. He personally attended to the needs of his mother, while on the cross. He personally attended to the need for forgiveness for the ones who were torturing him, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
The hands that touched and healed this deaf and mute man, and touched and healed so many others were nailed to tree. In Jerusalem they didn’t have room for a healing, delivering, truth-teaching Rabbi who cured souls from sin. But after they killed him he came back to life and renewed his efforts of serving the needs of his followers. He appeared to the eleven. He came back for Thomas’ sake a week later: He showed him his hands and his side. And he has reached out to each and every one of your personally, sending His Holy Spirit to work saving faith in your heart. Yes, Jesus died for the sins of the world, but he died also for each of us individually, taking each sin upon himself and paying its debt to God as he suffered on the cross, bled and died.
Look at Jesus as he presents himself up close and personal. Your heavenly Father already knows your needs before you ask. He knows all the hairs on your head. He chose you before the beginning of time. We have to conclude with the people of the Decapolis, “He has done all things well.”
2. A Savior who never fails us
What was the result of Jesus’ personal touch on the deaf man? “At this the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.” The man began to speak plainly right away. He wouldn’t need months of speech therapy to train his tongue. Just like Jesus allowed others to walk right away, others to live in perfect health right away. Jesus is not bound to his laws of nature. What Jesus does is never a failure.
Can he still do things like this? Absolutely! What else can he do? He died on the cross for us. What else wouldn’t he do for each of us? “He has done all things well.” Every moment he uses his mighty strength and divine wisdom to do all things well for us.
It looks as though there are times when God fails us. Isaac dug a well and it was smashed by his enemies. He dug another well and it was smashed. Where was God? Allowing the wells to be destroyed, replacing the wells, and teaching Isaac that he had a better country, a heavenly one to look forward to. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. He was accused of rape and imprisoned. Joseph didn’t even need to wait until heaven to see God’s hand in this; God was preparing him for a great rescue of his family and the ancestors of our Savior. Where was God when Job lost his wealth, health and family? God was battling behind the scenes with Satan, God was setting limits for Satan and sustain Job during his time of testing. Job didn’t wait until he got to heaven to acknowledge the Lord’s goodness, might and wisdom. He did this after the time of testing. Joseph could say, “God does everything well. He’s a Savior who doesn’t fail.” Job could say, “God does everything well. He’s a Savior who doesn’t fail.” And if you are currently going through a time of testing, how wonderful when you’ll be able to look back and say, and you will, if not here, at least heaven: “God does everything well. He’s a Savior who doesn’t fail." No wonder then, why the Psalmist, as he considered all the works of the Lord on behalf of his people would write, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” (136:1)
Where has Jesus ever failed? “He has done everything well.” We have a Savior who tends personally to our personal troubles. We have a Savior who always listens to our prayers. Did he ever fail in granting someone relief? Did he ever say, “Sorry, not even I can help you.” No disease was too far no one was ever dead for too long. As he carried earthly sorrows the Gospels show he never failed.
The one who did not fail left nothing to be failed. The one who did all things well has done everything for our salvation. From A-Z, our salvation for body and soul is complete. This is Jesus said, “It is finished.” So well did he do all things that even his Father commends him, “This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased.” So well has Jesus done his work of salvation that the Bible says, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” So well does Jesus do everything that even though it looks like the poor little church militant is going to be wiped out someday, Jesus is “is seated at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but in the one to come. And God placed everything under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, who fills everything in every way.” (Eph. 1:20-23)
Our Savior who does all things well will never fail us. Listen so some of his promises: “I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:13) “For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant he made with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them with an oath.” (Deut. 4:31) “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) “My salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.” (Is. 51:6)
When we look at Jesus close up and personal, we don’t see any dirty laundry, like you will with a celebrity. And you won’t see any hidden agenda, like you might with a political figure. Up close and personal, you have a kind Savior who died for you and a Savior who works night and day in serving us personally. Look on him closer in his Word. Go to him in prayer. You have a Savior who is always there taking a personal interest in everything, never failing in anything. That’s our Jesus Christ: up close and personal. Amen.