John 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples)… ESV
“You can learn more from a book if you stop and
ask it questions than if you just read it passively.”
John Piper on Bible reading
Why would John have side-noted “Jesus himself did not baptize?” John knew what his purpose was; to use baptism with water to point to “He who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” He clearly wanted to protect Jesus from the Pharisees and establish the difference between his external baptism and what Jesus was doing. “Jesus himself did not baptize” because His greater purpose was to accomplish an internal transformation with a new birth and “living water” that would become “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It was “living water” that would make new birth a possibility for Nicodemus. It was “living water” that took Jesus to the place Jews believed was a mix of spiritually corrupt Israelites and pagan foreigners to offer that new birth to a Samaritan woman. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” of “living water.” It was “living water” that revealed true worship doesn’t happen because of an external ritual or a place, but because “the Father is seeking true worshippers to worship him in Spirit and in Truth” in the most unexpected places.
Jesus is still traveling in the area most Jews considered pagan. It was in that area of the 10 cities [Decapolis] some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk. “…They begged Jesus to place his hand on him. 33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”
Imagine how confusing this whole situation must have been to this man. He certainly hasn’t “heard” about Jesus. His life must have been like our watching TV with the sound off; the visual chaos of a lot of unexplained activity. That makes it easier for me to imagine his situation. Bless those people that brought him to Jesus.
Bless Jesus for his kindness and sensitivity to remove this man from that visual chaos he must have been experiencing and to protect him from the audible chaos of the crowd at the moment his ears were opened. Away from the distraction of the crowd Jesus could use his hands to show the man what he would do in a silent mime. Jesus’s voice would be the first one heard. It’s a marvelous story of physical healing with just that one word spoken,..“Ephphatha!”
It was interesting to discover that one word, “Ephphatha!” was in Aramaic but the word that explained it was the Greek version “dianoigō,” It seems this healing was too big for just one language. It took both languages to convey the purpose Jesus had in mind as he stood face to face to heal this man…”to open so as to connect.”
Jesus had an even greater purpose for this man’s life…and ours….to understand when he speaks in our lives it’s ”to open so as to connect.”