Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009 Trinity 12 Mark 7:31-37
And again, having come out of the region of Tyre, He (Jesus) came through Sidon unto the Sea of the Galilee into the midst of the region of the ten-cities. And they brought to Him one deaf and thick tongued and they called Him along in order that He lay the hand on him. And He took him apart, from the crowd, privately He thrust His fingers into his ears, and having spit, He touched his tongue, and He looked up into the heavens; He sighed, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" which is, "Be opened!". And immediately his ears were opened, and was loosened the bond of his tongue and he was speaking plainly. And He ordered to them, that they tell no one. But as much as He ordered them, the more abundantly they kept proclaiming it. And they were abundantly amazed, saying, "Excellently He does all things; and the deaf He makes to hear, and the speech-less to speak!
As the summer draws to a close, vacation time ends. It did for Jesus as well, Who, prior to our text, was able to take a break in the non-Jewish lands of modern day Lebanon. But he returns from His brief respite to the Jewish lands of the Galilee, and quickly He is back to the old grind, as folks begin to come to Him for healing. His time of busy-ness begins with a man with two problems. First, he's deaf, but secondly, he also has an unrelated speech impediment. He truly needs God's help.
His friends and family members have a plan. They want Jesus to lay His hands upon this man to heal him in a way they knew Jesus had done before. But Jesus has a different idea. He could have simply touched the man's head as they asked, or let the man touch His Own garment to channel the Divine energy of healing to him, but He doesn't. Instead, He gets right in there, shoving his fingers into the man's ear canals, and taking saliva from His Own holy mouth to touch it to his speechless tongue.
And what do you know, God's plan works! Even though it was different from the plan this deaf/mute's friends had for him, God's ways proved once again to be the best! And this serves as a lesson to us, in several ways. First and foremost, it is a reminder that our ways are not always the best. We need to pause and consider what God's Word says about His ways of doing things. When we do, we might be pleasantly surprised about how God's plan is so very far superior to ours!
It can be a dangersome thing for us to try to plan out for God how He will do His work in His church... as though it really our church...which it isn't. God wishes to work to cure our ailment of sin through the holy actions of His sacraments. Yet we find ourselves tempted to speak against these forgiving works of God, that they shouldn't be offered too often, or that God should not deliver them in the ways which He wants to give His good and gracious gifts. But they aren't our gifts to give–they're God's!
It appears that we have a deafness of our own, failing to really listen to God and to His revealed will from the Bible. We find excuses to not attend bible classes, or to avoid daily devotions in God's Word, or to not bring our children, grand-kids, neices and nephews to Sunday School. We close our ears to those things God would have us hear and pay attention to. Our ears need Jesus' healing.
Your ears are indeed healed whenever they hear the forgiveness of Jesus proclaimed. You are forgiven each time you hear the message of the Gospel proclaimed from this puplit, for Jesus loved you so much that He willingly went to the cross in your place, dying there in your death, so that you now live forever in heaven. But you don't have to wait till Sunday for your ears to hear this forgiveness. You may come to your pastor and hear the words of Absolution whenever your heart is heavy in sin.
It also appears that we have a tongue problem. Not that it doesn't work, for it finds ample opportunity to gossip, to brow-beat, to lie, and to curse. It is bound to say all the wrong things. It needs to be set free from that bondage by Jesus, so that your tongue can be free to speak what Jesus' Own tongue speaks. That's why Jesus took saliva from His tongue to place it on the speechless man's tongue.
Jesus cleanses your tongue this day by placing more than just His saliva on it. He places His body, given to death on the cross, upon your tongue in the bread; and He places His holy, precious blood, shed for your salvation, upon you tongue when you drink from the cup of Holy Communion. This cleanses your tongue of all its sins, forgiving you, and setting your tongue free to speak what Christ's Own tongue says. This is your confessing, which means to say together, with Jesus, what He says.
Yes, Jesus alone does all things excellently, including opening your ears to hear God's Word of truth regularly, and by cleansing your tongue to confess that truth for yourself, and before others. Amen. .