TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Christ Heals a Deaf-Mute
August 19, 2018
Groaning Our Ears and Tongues Open
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Why did Jesus give you ears and tongues?
31 Jesus left the region of Tyre again and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought a man to Him who was deaf and had a speech impediment. They pleaded with Jesus to place His hand on him. (Mark 7)
This poor man had ears, but could not hear. He also had a tongue, but could not speak. He had friends who cared about him and felt pity for him. So they brought him to Jesus.
33 Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd. He put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. (Mark 7)
Jesus separates this man from the crowd. This is because Jesus is kind. Without hearing and speech, sight and touch are this man's imperfect way of knowing the world. And now he sees only Jesus. Whatever happens next is going to be the work of Jesus alone.
34 After He looked up to heaven, He sighed (really, groaned) and said, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”) 35 Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak plainly. (Mark 7)
Think of how many times this poor man must have looked up to heaven and groaned. And that's the right word here. Jesus groaned. He wasn't annoyed by having to care for this man; He deeply felt this man's frustration and isolation. This man's brokenness hurt Jesus personally. And He groaned.
Groaning is what Paul speaks of about all of us:
22 For we know that all of creation is groaning with birth pains right up to the present time. 23 And not only creation, but also we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8)
Jesus groans with us and for us. He sees the results of our self-righteous whispering about others and He groans. He sees the results of yelling at our children and He groans. He sees the cost of how we don't use our tongues to faithfully rebuke those under our care of sin and recklessness and He groans. He sees siblings being cruel with other children and it costs Him.
It costs Him because He answers our groans with His death. You sin and groan and Jesus groans and dies. He became our sin, the cause of our groaning, and was punished for this deaf-mute man and for you. And now we have the firstfruits of the Spirit, which is trust and faith in Christ.
We continue to groan in our waiting to be completely delivered from the evil of our bodies and of this world. Until we die or Jesus returns, we live in and around bodies that fail.
And there are so many ways that our bodies let us down: austism and allergies, cancer and colitis, bad hearts and bad ears. Even childbirth stresses mothers and their bodies and causes pain in delivery.
But after the baby is born, there is joy. After we are done with this world and we leave behind our bad backs and broken hearts, our joy is complete. And not so much that our backs and hearts and noses and ears and tongue will work the way they always were supposed to work, but because we will see Jesus with our own eyes, because by faith now we used our ears to listen to Jesus and our tongues to confess who He is: our Lord and God.
This is why He gave you ears and tongues: to hear and speak His death and resurrection. Now you know what the future holds for you: your death and resurrection. Groaning for now, but now joy, too, and forever.
This is why (Bentley's) baptism is a miracle, even more major--if that's possible--than Jesus opening this man's ears and making his tongue work again. Baptism is a miracle of death and resurrection:
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him by this baptism into his death, so that just as he was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life. (Romans 6)
In resurrection our ears and tongues are given back to you better than before. A dead person's ears and tongue don't work. They are closed. They can't hear anything of lasting value and they can't say anything that will last. Same with unbelievers—their ears can't hear Jesus and their tonuges can't confess that He is our Lord and our God. And it's the way we used to be before Holy Baptism—deaf and mute.
But by faith now we hear and confess Jesus. Our ears still listen to gossip and slander and our tongues still deceive and leave out the truth. Yet Jesus daily kills our old ears and chops out our old tongues—our old sinful flesh that only wants to get its own way—and raises us new every morning with good ears and good tongues.
We are tempted to see Baptism as a one-time dusty-past event in our lives. Let us repent. The deaf-mute man made new by Jesus certainly thought of his “resurrection” not in the past, but as a present and on-going reality.
So is Baptism. It is our daily reality, made new by Christ, now and forever. It isn't magic or superstition; it's a miracle. It is God speaking new life to you, giving you hearing ears and tongues which praise His holy name and marvelous deeds.
My soul, now bless your Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who makes me a partaker
Of mercies more than I dare claim.
Forget Him not whose meekness
Still bears with all your sin,
Who heals your ev'ry weakness,
Renews your life within,
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved you through the past,
Who leaves no suff'rer friendless
But rights the wronged at last.
(Christian Worship, Hymn 257)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!