Acted Out Sermons

One of the things that struck me when I preached through Mark’s Gospel last year, was the method of how Jesus healed people. Very often, Jesus used different methods to miraculously bring healing to different people. Sometimes He would touch the affected area of the person. Sometimes He simply spoke someone well. Other times, He called the person to act in some way. The clear implication is that there was a message being communicated through the method of the miracle.

This is something that Charles Spurgeon makes note of in his “Lectures” to his students. He says that “there can be no doubt that the miracles are the acted out sermons of the our Lord Jesus Christ“. He then goes on to quote from R.C. Trench, who he acknowledges has many doctrinal failures, yet, when it comes to finding the deeper lessons in Christ’s miracles, serves as a very good resource. The example he provides is the healing of a deaf and mute man of Mark 7:31-37.  

Warning: One must be careful in interpreting miracles like this. There is much opportunity to over-spiritualize and harm the text (which is the very warning Spurgeon gives in this chapter). But when done faithfully, there is much to be gained. Here is the example he provides:

“The poor creature’s maladies are eminently suggestive of man’s lost estate, and our Lord’s mode of procedure most instructively illustrates that plan of salvation.

‘Jesus took him aside from the multitude’ -the soul must be made to feel its own personality and individuality, and must be led into loneliness.  He ‘put his fingers into his ears’, the source of the mischief indicated; sinners are convinced of their state. And ‘spat’ -the gospel is a simple and despised means, and the sinner, in order to salvation, must humble himself to receive it. He ‘touched his tongue’, further pointing out where the mischief lay – our sense of need grows on us. He ‘looked up to heaven’ – Jesus reminded his patient that all strength  must come from above – a lesson which every seeker must learn. ‘He sighed’, showing that the sorrows of the Healer are the means of our healing. And then he said, ‘Ephphatha, Be opened!’ – here was the effectual word of grace which wrought an immediate, perfect, and lasting cure.

From this one exposition learn all, and ever believe that the miracles of Christ are a great picture gallery, illustrating his work among the sons of men.”


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