Lord Jesus’ Doing All Things Well!
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Trinity Lutheran Church
6 September 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Mark 7:31-37
There he is. Do you see him? Sure you do. However, you pretend not to. As if he doesn’t exist. You call him a misfit. Oddball. Goofy. All because he bears and suffers in his body the ravaging effects of a fallen, wrecked world that sadly began with Adam and Eve’s wanting to be like God and rebelliously not being content to be creatures with ears to trust God’s Word and tongues to proclaim His praise. So, there he is. This poor creature can’t hear. In addition, he can’t talk. And when he tries to communicate it’s clumsy, gawky, uncoordinated shrill Quasimodo-like groans and moans all because his tongue and ears don’t work. His ears and mouth are damaged goods. Awkward! A total embarrassment!
He has no education. No job. No life skills. His hands and fingernails are grimy. His clothes are grubby, filthy and smelly.
You’d just die if someone saw you with him. What would your friends think? Your family? So you avoid him like the plague. You’d never invite him over for a beer or for supper. You’d by no means have him over to play pitch or pinochle with the card club. And if he showed up for church on Sunday – you’d have the ushers show him the door. NO SEAT FOR YOU!
If the deaf-mute man was rich, had the right clothes and a gold ring on his finger, you’d cut him some slack. It would be a different story. But he doesn’t. In your eyes, he’s pathetic. A loser. So you discriminate. You show partiality. Favoritism. Preferential treatment. As if you’re better. A little divinity compared to him! Some people are less equal than others. The devil can have him for all you care.
Pastor James in his epistle diagnosed you well. CAT Scans you. MRIs you. Listen again. “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. … love your neighbor as yourself.” For your unloving discriminatory thoughts and actions against your neighbor, you must repent – AND believe that Jesus has died for you and for all your sin. Seriously. You say you have faith but where are your works? Why won’t you take care of your neighbor who is in need? Do you believe in Jesus or don’t you? Faith in Jesus bears fruit —the fruit of love – sacrificially taking care of others no matter what their needs.
Thankfully, the deaf-mute man has some faithful and loving friends that look out for him. Incredibly, they carry him to the preacher from Nazareth: Jesus! They’re at the FAITH POINT. The faith point is totally being given to. Entirely passive. Nothing but beggars before the Lord Jesus. To receive only what Jesus gives. Bankrupt of anything inside them to make a bargain. “They begged Jesus to lay His hand on him.”
The Lord Jesus – the Savior of the world — doesn’t discriminate. No favoritism. He has come to establish and reveal the kingdom of heaven on the earth just as Isaiah prophesied a long time ago. FOR ALL! Consequently, the Lord Jesus is totally FOR this poor, bound-in-Satan’s-chains deaf-mute. Lord Jesus is fully there FOR this poor genetically marred man that suffers so much because he, like all of you, has inherited Adam’s original sin. Lord Jesus will not let Satan, Adam’s sin or the wrecked inherent results of a fallen creation stop Him from redeeming and restoring His fallen creatures.
So, Lord Jesus takes this man aside. Away from the crowds. Did you hear that? Away from the crowds! Jesus is not a Las Vegas Night Club act. He’s not a Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brian or a Jimmy Fallon. He’s not a Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, David Copperfield, David Blaine or a Harry Houdini. Jesus is the Lord! He is God in the flesh. To do a kingdom of God! To defeat Satan. Forgive sin. Redeem and restore His creation.
Consequently, this deaf-mute man is very precious to the Lord. So dear to Him. Jesus is utterly Lord FOR HIM with everything that He is and all that He has.
Jesus communicates that He is Lord for this man in ways that only a deaf-mute would understand. Pokes His divine fingers into the broken ears. Spits and grabs the man’s bound tongue with His divine hand covered with His divine mouthy discharge. The actions speak loudly and clearly: “I’m here to help you. I’m here to fix your ears and tongue. I’m here to pull a jailbreak. I’m busting you loose! I have come to set you free from Satan’s penitentiary. There’s a new Lord in town. It’s me! I’ll take care of you.”
The look up to heaven illustrates that Lord Jesus is the chosen Savior sent by the Father who alone can help the man. Then comes the deep sigh or literally the intense groan. Groan. That’s the same word St. Paul uses about the Holy Spirit helping us in our weakness by interceding for us through “wordless groans,” (Romans 8:26).
It’s at that point that the Lord-Jesus fingers, spit, look to heaven and intense groaning get hooked with His Lord-Jesus divine Word. A godly command. Jesus isn’t mute. He speaks. Authoritatively. Categorically. Not in German. Not in English. But of all languages: Aramaic! A one word sermon! “Ephphatha!” It means: “Be opened!”
His Word does exactly what it says. Gives precisely what it says. Says unerringly what it gives. The divine Ephphatha is just like the divine Genesis 1 “Let there be light.” In the beginning God creates by His Word. When He redeemes and recreates His fallen creation He does it through His spoken Word. That’s just His cup of tea.
With the Lord-Jesus Ephphatha a broken creature is restored. A fallen creature is redeemed. When Lord Jesus speaks the BE OPENED Ephphatha “the man’s ears were opened.” He is able to hear and hang on to every word that comes from the Lord’s mouth as divine words for him and for his salvation. Passively living by faith! Trusting only in Jesus. Like a creature is supposed to. Like it was in the beginning.
With the BE OPENED Ephphatha the man’s “tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly / rightly” or as the Greek says: orqws. Orqws is where the word “orthodoxy” comes from. Orthos – (right) / doxy (praise / glory). So it’s not just that the man’s mouth works. It’s more than that. Now his mouth speaks ORTHODOX-LY! Faithfully! His mouth praises and glorifies Lord Jesus who is FOR HIM and FOR YOU. His mouth confesses truly who Jesus is! Like a creature that lives by faith is supposed to. Like it was in the beginning.
No surprise then that the people in their sheer astonishment, amazement and overwhelm-ment blurt out the truth: “He [Lord Jesus] does everything well.” Wow! That sounds so much like the IN THE BEGINNING OF GENESIS 1, doesn’t it? You remember that don’t you? Sure you do! “God saw all that He had made and it was very good,” (Genesis 1:31)! Indeed!
You too! Lord Jesus has done everything well FOR YOU as well. Lord Jesus is God FOR YOU. You are very precious and dear to Him. He has taken you aside to be Savior FOR YOU. You needed Him. You rebelliously didn’t want to be a creature of God! You were bullish on being a little divinity.
So, your ears didn’t work. Your ears didn’t listen to God’s Word. You stuffed them with your own words. Plugged them chock full of your own sermons. Your tongue was twisted and tied. It only talked to itself and about itself.
What a distorted, curved in on yourself and hellaciously foolish life of striving to be like God! As if you were God! Incredibly, the Lord Jesus didn’t turn away from you. Instead, Lord Jesus came to you to save you from yourself. To heal you. To redeem you from the idolatry of the self. Rescue you from the Satanic slavery of always having the devilish desire to be little gods.
He has given you the greatest gift of all. Salvation. Lord Jesus pokes His Good Friday word of forgiveness into your ears every Sunday. He puts His absolving Words into your mouth with His most holy Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper. For most of you He took you into His blood-stained Good Friday hands and washed your entire body in His own red-divine-blood-from-the-cross-water of Holy Baptism. He put His saving Name on you! Marked you with the sign of the holy cross – the Good Friday death of His that saves you. In your Baptism He preached that one word sermon again: Another BE OPENED EPHPHATHA!
His EPHPHATHA preached over you did what it said. You were born again! Regenerated by the Holy Spirit. You’re a believer! A disciple! You’re not God! You’re a creature! You’re a new creation in Lord Jesus. This means that you are satisfied to live by F-A-I-T-H! That is to say, content to have creaturely ears and mouths that are redeemed and restored. Ears that gladly listen NOT TO YOUR WORDS but to Lord Jesus’ Word. Mouths that give their “Amen” and “Thanks be to Lord Jesus” for all his Good Friday saving and all the Good Friday salvific benefits given in His Word and Sacraments.
Now that your ears and mouths – you entire bodies and souls – have been salvationly faithed by Good Friday’s forgiveness, Lord Jesus has good use for you as His creatures. Now is the content-to-be-God’s-creature-time to lovingly use your ears, mouths and bodies to help those in need.
Faith in Jesus for salvation gives birth to sacrificial giving of yourselves in this world for others. Works of love for the sake of the neighbor. Review your Small Catechism – the explanations to Commandments 4-10 and the Table of Duties and you’ll have enough loving-for-the-sake-of-others-works to do for the rest of your life. Works that flow from faith in Jesus. Works for this world. Works done simply for the sake of your family, friends, community and congregation because their needs contain the proper places and boundaries for love. Lives lived not for yourselves, but outwardly and indiscriminately for the benefit of others. This is the Lord’s very good use of you
Since you have been crucified with Christ it is no longer you who lives but the Lord Jesus who lives in you. He uses you as His instrument to do everything well in this earthly life. Just like it was in the very good beginning.
Thanks be to Jesus! Amen.