John 10:27–28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Alexa! Hey Siri! OK Garmin! These are names associated with voice recognition technology that enables a machine or computer program to receive, interpret, understand and respond. Even if you personally have never used them, you’ve likely heard those names. I suggest there’s an even more important name associated with voice recognition technology…Jesus!
This verse from John is my evidence that God should be the one to get credit for what seems to be a “new” technology that enables those who follow his Son to receive, interpret, understand, hear, recognize…and follow the voice of their Shepherd…and he will respond, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Listen! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away but there’s something about that name. [Bill Gaither]
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.”
NIV Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
NLT Romans 9:21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
These two versions of the same verse from Romans 9 reminded me of a game our grandson used to play with us. He liked Pokémon trading cards and he would go through the images one by one asking us to decide if it was pretty or ugly. This verse make me feel the same way that I felt about those cards. I didn’t understand why my grandson wanted us to decide. I didn’t want to look at the same cards over and over. I didn’t even like those cards but I loved the little boy so I did it.
I do know when I read these two verses I decided the NIV words about the clay pot “for special purposes and some for common use” was the “pretty” version and the NLT’s “for decoration and another to throw garbage into ” was the “ugly.” The theme of Romans 9 as a whole seems to be God does what he wants, when he wants and with whom he wants. It’s much easier to say I believe that than to understand it.
At lot of faith is based on understanding and I think maybe that’s what makes this chapter so important. It’s the challenge that God can use words to demand a human response like pretty or ugly. Roman’s 9:21 forces me to “feel” and respond. I don’t understand it but I love the one who says look again and decide… so I do it.