The Sigh of Christ

“The Sigh of Christ”
A reflection on Mark 7:34 and Mark 8:11-13
Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
©2022 by Gloria M. Chang

And people brought to Jesus a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

Mark 7:32-35

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.

Mark 8:11-13

Faithless Pharisees

Dalmanutha (Magadan) and surrounding area. Source: Bible Hub.

After the feast of the seven loaves, Jesus and his disciples sailed back to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Based on the parallel passage in Matthew, scholars identify the unknown region of Dalmanutha with Magadan or its vicinity.1 

Alarmed by Jesus’ popularity among the Jews and abroad, the Pharisees demanded a sign from heaven to “test” (peirazó) him. The same verb is used of Satan in the synoptic accounts of Christ’s temptations in the wilderness.2 Neither his healings nor his multiplication of loaves and fishes moved the Pharisees to faith. Seeking proof on their own terms, they sought to control him through suspicious scrutiny. By denying the divine origin of his miracles, they bolstered their own authority and interpretation of the Torah.3 For his Messianic claims threatened to supersede the religious establishment.

Jesus sighed (anastenazó) in his spirit, grieved at the Pharisees’ hardness of heart. Unlike the deaf-mute, whose ears opened when Jesus sighed (stenazó) and commanded, “Ephphatha!” the Pharisees shut their ears to the Holy Spirit. Miracles do not guarantee faith, which takes root in the depths of receptivity and trust in the Lord.

Morning after morning
he wakens my ear to hear as disciples do;
The Lord God opened my ear;
I did not refuse,
did not turn away.

Isaiah 50:4b-5

The ears of a deaf-mute opened with a sigh,
But the tongues of experts failed to prophesy.


1 Mark 8:10; Matthew 15:39.
2 Matthew 4:1; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2.
3 Matthew 10:25; 12:22-32; Mark 3:23-30; Luke 11:14-23; John 8:48.

2 Replies to “The Sigh of Christ”

  1. Morning after morning
    he wakens my ear
    to hear as disciples do;
    The Lord God opened my ear;
    I did not refuse,
    did not turn away.

    Isaiah 50:4b-5

    I am being sent
    to bring love
    As Jesus would do.

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