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Trinity 12 – Mark 7:31-37

by pastorjuhl ~ August 19th, 2010

Christopher Marvin Juhl is baptized.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Saint John writes in his first epistle: For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. The deaf-mute man is led to Jesus in Mark chapter seven for this particular reason. No wonder Jesus sighs before loosing the man’s tongue and opening the man’s ears. The devil is the reason for sin. The devil is the reason why many people will not be saved from the coming wrath. The devil is the one who stops ears and binds tongues.

The world was never meant to have people who are deaf, mute, blind, or any other handicap. There was no need for hearing aids, sign language, walking sticks, hospitals, doctors or nurses in Paradise. Satan’s foolish work of tricking our first parents into believing they would be like God brought the devil’s work into the world. Everything would be a struggle, especially health. Women give birth in pain. Men struggle physically and mentally in their work. Children are inclined not to listen to their parents or other authority figures. The works of the devil seem to run roughshod over everyone, bringing heartache, fear, and pain into people’s lives.

The deaf-mute man is you and I before we were known by God. Blessed Martin Luther’s Small Catechism teaches us “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him”. Take out the prepositional phrase and the sentence becomes easy to understand. “I believe that I cannot…believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” The image of God in you is shattered beyond comprehension. You can look at the created world and try to believe in God, but you’ll receive no understanding of how you are saved. You can look inside yourself and try to believe in God, but you’ll see how broken and sin-sick you are. If there is an unbeliever’s creed, it should be “I believe that I cannot… believe”.

The crowds bring the deaf-mute man to Jesus. This is an act of faith. They believe Jesus can do something to help him. The same thing happens in the year of our Lord 2010. You who are known by the Triune God bring those who know Him not to His house. You bring people deaf, mute, and blind to salvation in order that they might be healed of sin and death. Their healing takes place in no less a miraculous way than the deaf-mute man’s healing thousands of years ago. Their healing also takes place in a way that is strange to the hostile world.

Jesus invades the deaf-mute man’s personal space. Jesus does more than lay His Hand on him. He does an impolite thing. [Jesus] took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” You might think “Ew! How gross! Jesus might have germs on His Hands. Who wants to be around someone who spits?” Germophobes have nothing to fear in the presence of the King of Kings. Fingers, hands, words, and spit make a man see and speak.

Fast forward to today. You bring, as it were, deaf-mute people to church in order that they might hear and speak the Good News of forgiveness and life. Granted Jesus is not in the flesh standing before you, ready to do the fingers, hands, and spit thing. Jesus still does something amazing. He speaks His Word through men called by the Gospel to serve Him. Sinful pastors proclaim Christ crucified for the sins of the world in pulpits like this. The Word they speak, powered by the Holy Spirit that accompanies the preaching of the Gospel, creates faith in a miraculous and inexplicable way. As the Virgin Mary miraculously conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, so men and women miraculously receive the Good News of great joy through the preaching of the Word.

Here’s how Martin Luther puts it: “God has shown us no other way by which we can come into heaven than through His precious Word, the Holy Gospel. Whoever gladly and diligently hears and receives it, and who loves and delights in it, will be helped. That is the one miracle that daily still takes place in Christendom, that our ears, which the devil stopped up through sin, are again opened by the Word, so that we receive it.”

Preaching alone does not save. Preaching God’s Word and Holy Baptism work together to save men alive. As Noah and seven other family members were saved in the ark, as the Israelites walked through the Red Sea on dry ground saving them from Pharaoh’s wrath, as the Israelites walked through the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land, so you and I are saved through water and the Word of God in Holy Baptism.

Today we have the privilege of seeing another deaf-mute person healed of sin and death. Christopher Marvin Juhl is brought to the font to be washed clean of sin and made an heir of eternal life. While in his mother’s womb, he heard the Word of God. If John the Baptizer can leap for joy in Elisabeth’s womb, certainly Christopher Marvin can leap for joy hearing the Word in his mother’s womb. The Word of God come down to earth has begun a good thing today. As he grows in years, he will learn the family story. He will learn the story of salvation of the family of God. He will be taught the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. He will go to the House of God, to God his exceeding joy. God willing, he will be examined, absolved, and receive Christ’s Body and Blood. He will not live his life in isolation from the works of the Lord, as if Baptism were some sort of magic remedy for sin. Christopher Marvin Juhl is known by God. He can’t help but hear and speak his salvation.

When Christ heals you from being deaf and mute to salvation, you can’t help but hear more about it and tell the Good News given to you. That’s what Christians do. Christians do not live in isolation from their Savior, as if all they need they received once and now they can go about their business without the Lord. No, they listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. They speak words of praise and thanksgiving back to Him. They tell others who know not the Lord Jesus to come with them to His House. Christians stay connected to Jesus as a branch stays connected to a vine. Apart from the vine a branch cannot live. Apart from Christ, a Christian cannot live.

One little word can fell the lying, conniving devil. Today, that word is ephphatha, be opened. Jesus has opened your ears and loosed your tongue to hear and speak about how you are saved from sin and hell. Today is Christopher’s ephphatha. Today he is loosed from Satan’s cords of death and is robed in the garment of incorruption and eternity. Today we sing with the Psalmist: sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. He has done all things well.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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