St. Mark 7:31-37 The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity / Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2016 A.D.
Passage: Mark 7:31–:37
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
It was an expression of His great love that God formed the first man from the dust of the ground. And that lifeless dust-man was animated, made alive, when His Creator breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. That which proceeds from the mouth of God filled him, giving him life. Man became a living being. And unlike the other creatures of God, man has a soul. And that soul was created, as the body was created, to be perfect, without blemish or spot.
He was very good. And so was she. There was no deafness in Eden, no impediment of speech. Man had ears to hear God, to hearken to His voice. Man hungered for God’s Word, and lived by it. Man had lips to praise God, to confess God, and to teach the Word he received to his wife and children, that every generation receive that Word.
But man listened to a strange voice, a voice that questioned what God had said. And when the time came to confess, clearly and boldly, what God had said, man fell short. The strange word he had heard persuaded him, tempted him, to doubt the Word of God. So by that word were his ears stopped. And not hearing God, he could not praise God or confess Him. He could only hide. Death was the result. And the generations following were corrupted. They listened to strange words. They increasingly fell away from living godly lives. They failed to properly confess.
So it is that the Lord says of the multitudes that surrounded Him “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” He spoke the Word to them, the same Word Adam heard at the first. But they could not hear. Sin stopped their ears and bound their lips.
So of the scribes and Pharisees the Lord says “'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.” They had working ears, but they were deaf. And they had working lips, but their confession was wrong. The problem, of course, wasn’t their ears or their lips or their tongues. The problem was their hearts. The problem was their souls.
And so it is with each fallen man, each sinner. You are predisposed to listen to strange voices. The flesh yearns to hear the very things God forbids. Even the casual watcher of prime-time television must admit that words our parents would not speak are common today. Scandalous living and behavior is promoted as normal, good and right.
God made them male and female, but many strange voices today teach that God was wrong, that gender is fluid, which is a rejection of God’s order of creation, and so a rejection of God. As Adam learned, you cannot have the one true God if you will not hear His Word. And our government is perhaps the greatest promoter of such perversion.
You have ears. What is it that you fill them with? And you have lips. But if you’re honest, you must confess that you have spoken words that God forbids, words of cursing, words of anger, words that harm the reputation of others. And these sinful words have supplanted the words that God created you to speak – the confession of who He is and what He has done, to His praise and to His glory.
But you have fallen short. So in sin, you have been made deaf to God’s Word, and your speech has been impeded by expressing what flows from your heart – for it is not what goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him. The problem isn’t defiled ears or lips. The problem is defiled heart and soul. And the sinner is no more capable of hiding from God than was Adam.
As He returned to Galilee, they brought to the One through whom all things were made, the Lord Christ, his fallen creature - a deaf man with an impediment of speech. First, they begged Him to put His hand on him, for they believed that He could heal. His are the hands that hung the sun and moon and stars, the hands through which the creation was accomplished, the hands that formed the first man from the dust, the hands now before them in human Flesh.
The Lord took the fallen man aside from the multitude – salvation is a personal, individual, soul by soul act. The Lord sought no audience from the crowd. He was concerned with the soul, the eternal wellbeing of the afflicted man. So the Lord preached to the man with His actions – He worked faith by his motions, delivering a salvific sermon.
He touched the man’s ears in promise that they would be healed. He touched his tongue in promise that it would be loosed. He spat to show that what bound that man would be expelled. The man believed the promises the Christ. He heard His sermon – although not through his ears. The Lord’s sermon worked faith in him.
And looking up to heaven, the Lord commanded “Be opened!” And faith received its reward. It was a miracle. The man was healed. The fallen creation with its afflictions and perversions began to give way to the new creation. And the unstoppable confession of what the Christ had done returned the lips of the fallen to a God-pleasing use.
The hands that healed the deaf mute were nailed to the cross. That is where your true healing was accomplished. There, He who spoke the Truth was reviled. He who healed was afflicted. There, in darkness, His mouth was stopped, His ears were silenced by death. And by that death, that holy, precious death, all your sins are forgiven. And conquering death, He rose to new life, that you be declared righteous by believing in Him.
As the Christ healed that helpless man, so does the Lord of the Church come to you. In mercy, in love, He takes you away by yourself to the Baptismal Font, where He heals you, where the New Creation begins in you. The crowds begged the Lord to place His hands on the disabled man. In Baptism, the watery Hand of God is placed upon you, and by Word and water and Spirit your sins are forgiven.
You are healed. Your fallenness is drowned, and you are made a new creature, with ears that hear Christ and with lips that confess Him. By the work of the Holy Spirit God fills your heart with faith, and heals your soul.
And by that which proceeds from the mouth of God, His Holy Word, He strengthens and sustains you. For man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. You hear the proclamation of Christ’s servant that you are forgiven. You hear preaching and the Holy Scriptures. And that Word overflows from you, as you confess “I believe in One God, the Father Almighty… And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord… And I believe in the
Holy Ghost, the Holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting.
And the Church you confess is the place where the same Christ gives you the Holy Communion you confess, as He gives Himself to be your Meal. He blesses your lips as He pours His Blood across them. Filled with Christ, your soul blesses your Maker, and all that is within you blesses His Holy Name. For He is making all things new, as He gives you life that cannot be taken away.
Looking up to heaven, the Lord said “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened!” And the same Lord, the Lord who sits enthroned at the center of heaven, the Lord who has redeemed you, opens heaven to you. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. Grant this Lord to us all!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.