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Notes on Trinity 12 – Mark 7:31-37

by pastorjuhl ~ August 6th, 2008

Notes of Unknown Source(s)

Decapolis – a region of 10 cities to the east of the Jordan opposite Galilee

Jesus takes the man apart from the crowd as a sign of humility and modesty. He heals not for the sake of the crowd but for the sake of the man, who is healed not by show but by Word. This Word is made flesh. He uses things of human nature (fingers, spit) with His divine nature to open eyes and loosen tongues.

Jesus groans because He has compassion on humanity. He made Himself to be in our flesh. He knows our failures and empathizes with us.

The healing of the deaf-mute proclaims the two natures of Jesus Christ.

Note that the same finger of God Who etched in stone the 10 Commandments now are in the ears and on the tongue of the deaf-mute.

Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace”

Since ancient times the Church has used [Mark 7:31-37] as a symbol of baptism, because through baptism man first receives the power to hear (i.e. to understand) and to speak supernatural truths. Before baptism he resembles one who is deaf and dumb. He cannot speak to God in prayer because he has no faith; neither can he hear the voice of God. In regard to the kingdom of God he is deaf and dumb. But through baptism he becomes a child of God, he receives the life of sanctifying grace. The Holy Spirit, the Mediator between his soul and God, comes to dwell within Him and supplies, one may say, the tongue that speaks to God and the ear that is sensitive to the divine voice. (Volume 4, page 120)

Blessed Martin Luther’s House Postil for Trinity 12

If we are to be loosed from the devil’s bonds, and possess ready tongues and good ears, this can happen only through the external Word and preaching, through external means. We must, first of all, hear the Word, not neglecting Baptism or the Sacrament either, and the Holy Spirit will then be present to free the ears and tongues. Therefore, we must be on guard against the fantastic spirits who despise the external Word and Sacrament, waiting till God speaks to them in the heart. No, says Christ, here is my finger, the external Word, which must sound in the ears; my spittle, which must moisten and bestir the tongue; in this way my work proceeds rightly and readily from place to place. We see this wherever the external Word has free course; there true Christians will be found. Wherever it does not have free course, there none will be found, for as goes the shepherd, so the sheep. Everyone should take care, therefore, to be found on this path and gladly hear God’s Word. Without the Word, God does not reveal Himself in your heart. To see and know Him can happen only through the external Word and Sacraments. The Holy Spirit works in no other way.

Today’s Gospel comforts us with unfailing help against this enemy, for we see, as John says [1 John 3:8] that “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

Christ wants to show us with this miracle how these two pieces fit together, that He opens ears and looses tongues, and that He seeks to perform this work daily in His Church against the devil.

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.

Blessed Martin Luther’s Church Postils on Trinity 12

And though this Gospel lesson, like the preceding one, does not state that they had previously heard the tidings of the Gospel, yet we must nevertheless conclude, and the fact proves it, that they must have previously heard the good tidings and Gospel of Christ the Lord, through which they believed. For that is properly the Gospel which is called good tidings, a good report, not that which is written on paper, but that which is proclaimed in the world and becomes known by the living voice. Thus doubtless they had heard that Christ was kind, friendly, and helpful, willing to aid everybody; this was the beginning of their faith.

No one dare undertake to be saved by the faith, or by the work of another person; in turth, it cannot be done by the faith or work of Mary, or of any saint, yea, not even by Christ’s work and faith, but through your own personal faith. For God will not permit Mary, or any other saint, not even Christ himself, to take your place, in order that you might be godly and righteous, unless you believe for your own self. If Christ’s faith and work will not do it, you will much less accomplish it by the work or faith of all the monks and priests.

Other people’s merits will help you to attain a merit of your own, and nothing more. And though all the angels, yea, the mercyof God itself, were ready to stand for you, it would avail you nothing, unless you cleave unto it with a faith of your own. But it may effect this, that it will assist you to obtain a faith of your own, which will help you…. There lies the poor man, unable either to speak or to hear. They who bring him to the Lord can speak and hear. But they cannot make him speak by their hearing and speaking, and even though they all had come near him and said: “We will speak and hear for you”; yet he would, in spite of this, have remained speechless and deaf continually, and would never have been able to speak.

For a Christian life consists entirely in the following: First, that we believe and trust in Christ our Savior, being fully assured that we are not deserted by him, whatever need or danger may betide us. Secondly, that every Christian person also conducts himself toward friend or foe in the same way, as he sees Christ does, who is so willing to help everyone. Whoever does this, is a Christian; but he who does it not, is no Christian, though he calls himself one. For these two cannot be separated; faith must be followed by its fruits, or it is not true faith. That is the sum of this Gospel lesson.

[Jesus] was not alone concerned about the tongue and the ears of only this poor man; but it was a common sigh over all tongues and ears in general, yea, over all hearts, bodies, and souls, and all men, from Adam to the last human being, who is yet to be born. Hence he does not chiefly sigh because this man would in the future commit many sins; but the chief reason is that He, Christ the Lord, viewed the entire mass of flesh and blood which the devil afflicted with a fatal hurt in Paradise, making manking deaf and dumb, and thus trust them into death and hell fire…. Therefore this Gospel lesson sets forth Christ as being the man who is concerned about you and me, and about us all in a way that we ought to be concerned about ourselves, as though he were sunk in those sins and afflictions in which we are sunk, and that he sighs over the fact, that the very devil has brought about this ruin.

For as we admit that Christ, our Lord and God, had all other human traits, sin excepted, we must also concede, that He did not always have the same thoughts, was not always equally disposed, nor always equally fervent; but was variously actuated, just as other saints. Therefore, as His emotions and thoughts were peculiar in this case, His actions were also peculiar, so that we must see how truly human He was in body and soul, whose mind was not at all times alike disposed, just as little as He was always hungry and sleepy at the same time.

[Jesus] addresses here particularly two organs of the body, the ear and the tongue; for you know the Kingdom of Christ is founded upon the Word, which cannot be apprehended or understood except by these two organs, the ear and the tongue, and He rules in the hearts of men alone by the Word and by faith. The ears apprehend the Word, the heart believes it; the tongue, however, speaks or confesses that which the heart believes. Hence, barring the tongue and ears, there is no perceptible difference between the Kingdom of Christ and that of the world. For in regard to the outward life a Christian has duties like an unbeliever; he tills the ground, works his fields, and plows just like others, and he undertakes no peculiar work or deed, either in eating, drinking, working, sleeping, or anything else. But these two organs of the body make a difference between a Christian and an unbeliever; a Christian speaks and hears differently; he has a tongue which praises the grace of God and preaches Christ the Lord as being the only Saviour, etc. This the world does not do; it speaks of avarice and other vices, preaches and praises it own glory.

The ears and tongues of Christians are thus different from the ears and tongues of the world, or of unbelievers, caring nought for silver or gold, but only for that which is said of Christ, and how to speak and preach Christ.

The meaning of Christ’s sighs then is, not only that He reviewed in his mind all afflictions from the beginning of the world, but that He deplored the certainty that after the revelation of the Gospel, His Kingdom should suffer so much harm through the very persons whom He would help, and that His Kingdom should be so buffeted and rent, which would not have happened, if men had not first been rescued by Him. To be sure, He must bear it, and we must also bear it; but nevertheless, He will not on that account have sighed in vain.

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