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Trinity 12 – Mark 7:31-37

by pastorjuhl ~ September 12th, 2011

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

            Among the many miracles of Christ, there is a common feature of almost all of them. The common feature is His omnipotence, His being all-powerful. Jesus encounters and fights misery wrought by sin in His miracles. Fighting this misery from sin is a sign not only of God’s splendor, but also of His office of Savior. Jesus takes from you the physical and temporal consequences of sin. This includes the spiritual and eternal guilt of punishment of sin. That is His miracle for you through His innocent suffering and death on your behalf.

This miracle continues in the Christian Church today when Jesus, through His called and ordained shepherds, administers and dedicates His merit through His Word preached according to His command. The Word of God come down to earth is the divine Ephphatha that does wonders now as then. The preaching of the Gospel and the giving of the Sacraments are miracles through which Christ reveals Himself as Son of God and Savior of the world.

You are, by nature, unable to hear God’s Word beneficially. You can hear the Word, but to recognize and believe it as God’s Word is not possible. You confess this in the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him.” The natural man cannot and will not beneficially hear God’s Word. Even you as a Christian born from above by water, Word, and Spirit, have the constant trouble of hearing the Word, but not really hearing the Word. It’s as if you are a hummingbird approaching a flower to suck the sweet nectar, but instead of the nectar nourishing you, it is venomous to your soul.

Because of your sin, Jesus cries out His “Ephphatha” to the spiritually deaf world through the Word of the Gospel. Consider the deaf-mute in Mark chapter seven. Jesus takes aside a deaf-mute man brought to Him in order to heal him. You were brought to Jesus, whether as an infant, young child, or an adult, in order to have your ears opened and tongue unbound.

When Christ takes the man aside, it is not as if Jesus is trying to hide something from others. He wants to deal with the deaf-mute man one-on-one. Jesus deals with you one-on-one too. You are not saved by the faith of others. You are saved by coming into contact with the Savior Who knows your every weakness. Christ deals with sinners in an up close and personal way. He speaks His Word through His servants, delivering forgiveness and life in order that you may continue to hear Him and speak His Word to others who know not the Lord Jesus.

Lutherans sometimes don’t feel comfortable with ceremonies. There’s a respect for laudable customs like crossing oneself or bowing or kneeling. When it comes to doing these things personally, we sometimes are hesitant. We think it best not to let our piety show. Granted, we are not saved by outward gestures of our piety. Nevertheless, Jesus does all sorts of ceremonies to attract the deaf mute’s attention.

What opens his ears and loosens his tongue is not mud and spit. The Word does these things. The deaf-mute did nothing but allow Jesus to work His miracle. His command, “Ephphatha”, “Be opened”, does the job. Saying and doing the work of salvation begins first with God. His Word sustains you. His Word makes the blind see, makes the ill healthy, and makes the dead come back to life. His Word also brings and works spiritual blessings too, like forgiveness, life, and salvation.

The first Word that the now formerly deaf-mute man hears is the Word that opened His ear. This Word creates faith in him; it calls him to believe that Jesus is the only hope for spiritually deaf and mute people. Faith is not a requirement that you must fulfill in order to be saved. That’s a common misconception among Christians. Some Christians believe that God’s grace does most of the work, but they must finish it by bringing themselves to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. Not so. Faith is a gift from God. Recall Saint Paul’s familiar words to the Church in Ephesus: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. It’s not possible for one who is spiritually deaf and mute to have faith if they will not hear the Word. Only Christ and His Word open the ear and loosen the tongue. Faith is His work in us.

The “Ephphatha” that opened the ears of the deaf-mute also loosened the bond of his tongue. Consider the miracle within the miracle in today’s Gospel. When a deaf-mute person is healed, it would be rather difficult for them to speak right away. He must learn how to form words in order to speak. Saint Mark says about the deaf-mute man after Jesus spoke His “Ephphatha”: Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Those last three words are the miracle within the miracle.

When God opened your ears and loosened your tongue through His saving Word, He let your tongue be used for His service. The apostles were told not to speak about the Lord Jesus. They responded: We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. What good is it for you to remain silent about the miracle God works in you in His Word? You are being renewed every day by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Your tongue no longer wants to speak sinful speech. Your tongue now wants to praise God’s holy Name and extol His blessings. Jesus says: A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Remain in His Word, and your ear hears His goodness. Remain in His Word, and your tongue will not speak deceit. His Word, His kingdom put before your eyes, ears, and mouth through preaching and the Sacraments, is your glorious treasure. You have an amazing Savior that lavishly shares His bountiful goodness in order that you may live with Him forever. Blessed are you, for you hear the Word of the Lord and gladly keep it. Blessed are you, for your tongue declares the joy of the Lord. This is His miracle for you by means of His holy Word. This is your “Ephphatha”.

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

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