12th Sunday after Trinity + Mark 7:31-37 + August 14, 2016

Order of Holy Communion - Pg. 15
Hymn # 3 Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now
Hymn #30 Oh, that I had a Thousand Voices
Hymn #26 Praise the Almighty, My Soul Adore Him

Introit - Psalm 70:1-2a, Psalm 70:2b
(Antiphon) Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O LORD! Let them be ashamed and confounded Who seek my life;
Let them be turned back and confused Who desire my hurt.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Isaiah 29:18-19
2 Corinthians 3:4-11
Mark 7:31-37

Collect for Trinity XII
Almighty and Merciful God, of Whose only gift it cometh that Thy faithful people do unto Thee true and laudable service, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so faithfully serve Thee in this life that we fail not finally to attain Thy heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Sermon on the Holy Gospel

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1)         He has done all things well.” That seems like a bit of an understatement, doesn’t it? Jesus has opened the ears of one of who was deaf. He has loosed the tongue of one who was mute. In this miracle Jesus shows Himself once again for who He truly is. He is the Only-Begotten Son of God. He is the Word of God the Father, existing alongside the Father from all eternity. He is the Word by which all things were made, including man’s ears and tongue. Being the creative Word by which the heavens and all that is in them were made, He alone can restore the fallen creation. Jesus shows Himself to be much more than a mere man. Jesus demonstrates that He is not simply a man of God as were the prophets of the former days. The prophets were able to do great wonders and speak great things because the Word of the Lord came to them. Jesus has no need for the Word to come to Him, for He is that same Word of God which gave the prophets their power and speech. Jesus is always teaching us who He is because in every age of the world there are scoffers who want to make all sorts of counter claims about Him. They want to make Him a mere man whom God adopted to be the Messiah. Others want to make Him the first creature of God, before God created the heavens and the earth. But the testimony of Jesus’ works will allow none of these sorts of things. It is as Jesus says, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38). He is able to do all things well because He is God Himself in human flesh, the incorruptible creator of all that is, restoring His creation one by one from the corruption of sin and its ill effects.

2)         Jesus does much more than though than simply giving this man back His hearing and speech. That would have been enough! But there is another element to Jesus’ miracle, just as there is another element to each of Jesus’ gracious acts. What Jesus does to this deaf mute, He does not promise to do to every deaf mute. But what He does to this deaf mute, He promises to that great work to all who are spiritually deaf and mute. What I mean is this. All humanity sits in the seat of this deaf mute. Man is, by nature, deaf to the Word of God. Consider how many people aren’t here on a Sunday morning and you see that is true. Consider how many refuse to hear God’s Word. Consider how many in our world not only neglect preaching but despise it altogether. The world is full of those who think they hear just fine, while in reality their ears are stopped up with the wax of self-righteousness. The world imagines that it speaks just fine, except its mouth only speaks words of praise towards self and destruction towards others. Not hearing the Word of the Lord with their ears, they cannot use their tongues for that which God created them. So many can only use God’s name to curse, swear, to gossip, to lie or deceive. By nature, no one truly prays, praises God, or give Him thanks as he was created to do. Like this deaf mute, everyone is born with the disease of sin that our ears are shut to God’s Word and our tongues are stuck to the roof of our mouth, unable to be used for their divinely-ordained purpose.

3)         And this is why the eternal Word of the Father, the Only-Begotten Son of God, assumes Human flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is why the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, so that we could behold His glory, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). It is because He is gracious toward His creation that He comes to earth enfleshed in our humanity, bearing our burdens and our infirmities. Once this man’s friends bring him to Jesus, Jesus takes him aside from the crowd and does the oddest of things. He “put His fingers in his ears and He spat and touched his tongue.” Jesus might be signaling to the deaf mute His intentions. “I am going to clear out your ears and moisten your hardened tongue.” But it is more than that. Jesus is always teaching us how He works. When Jesus sticks His fingers into the man’s ears He wants us to remember that with those same fingers He drove out demons, for He said in Luke 11:20, “If I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” With this He shows that it is by His own almighty power which He saves sinners. Previously the finger of God had engraved the Law upon two stone tablets. But now that same finger of God drives out demons and heals closed up so that they cannot hear God’s Word. In this Jesus shows us that for all the glory the ministry of the Law possessed, it was nothing compared to the ministry of the gospel, for the Law brings about sin and death, but Christ brings grace and truth, salvation for all who hear and believe.

4)         Christ continues to demonstrate how He works by spitting and touching the man’s tongue. Saliva comes from the mouth, does it not? Jesus once again teaches that He heals men’s infirmity by means of that which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus’ saliva signifies His Word, since both come from His mouth. And this saliva is salvific because, as Augustine wrote, “The Word is applied to the element and it becomes a sacrament.” Jesus then speaks one word, “Ephatha,” that is, “be opened.”  Jesus combines His word with a visible element, a most common and ordinary element which all men possess, spit, and that spit makes the deaf mute whole. In this Jesus shows us how He still works among us today through His Word and Sacraments. He still takes elements which are lowly and common, the water of Holy Baptism, the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, and combines them with His Word of promise, and those common elements because sin-forgiving, life-giving sacraments for all who believe. This is why the church’s worship has always been centered in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, for these are Christ’s means for bringing His incorruption to sinners, His righteousness to the penitent unrighteous, and His grace to those who are afflicted with the disease of sin. This is why we have preaching and the sacrament every Lord’s Day, for they are the Lord’s instruments for bestowing salvation upon us week after week.

5)         And as we are always sick with sin, we always need the medicine of immortality. So many Christians imagine that the Christian life begins with the forgiveness of sins that then quickly moves on to other more exciting topics and adventures. In reality though, since we live our days in the flesh and carry around with us what Luther so often called this stinking maggot sack of the sinful flesh, we are daily in need of God’s grace, especially His chief grace which is the forgiveness of our sins. And while the Christian does their best to fight sin in their mortal body and not offer their members as slaves to unrighteousness, we still daily find ourselves turning back to our former condition of being deaf mutes. This is the sin that is far more difficult to detect in oneself than something like murder, hatred, adultery, immorality, and the like. Those are external and easy to see for the one who is vigilant against them. It is the sins against the first three commandments which are often hidden from our own eyes because they deal with our tongues and our ears.

6)         Consider this. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of the afternoon being shocked by this thought, “I have not yet prayed today?” How often does it strike you, “I have not yet given thanks to God for the many blessings He has given me?” Do you make it to the end of the day and think to yourself, “In the midst of such a busy day, I have not yet made time to hear the Word of the Lord?” This thought struck me very clearly at one point this week, that I had been slothful in my prayers and slow to hear the of the Word. It was at that point, when I found myself asking those questions of myself, that I realized I was the deaf mute from today’s gospel lesson, spiritually speaking, of course. My ears had been closed up to the Word. It was not malicious. I simply had things to do that, in my sinfulness, I thought more important. My slothfulness in prayer was not premeditated negligence. I had simply imagined that I could put off my prayers until later. It seemed that my tongue had grown an impediment that restrained it from its proper use of prayer, praise, and giving thanks.

7)         So we must always be on our guard against returning to our status as deaf mutes. Being justified by faith we ought to always seek the Word of God, that He put in our own tongue as He put His spittle on the man’s tongue, for when God places His Words on our lips, then we cannot help but speak it back to Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. That is what David means when He sings, “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise” (Psalm 51:15). His Word, when we hear, read, mark and learn it, opens our ears to hear of His mercies. His Word, when He places it upon our tongues, gives us a thousand voices to sing our savior’s praise and to confess Him boldly before the world for the sake of men’s salvation. Consider how you are hearing the Word of the Lord. Consider your prayers and your thanksgiving to God. But most of all consider the great things He has done for you in Christ Jesus, and the great things that He does for you through His preaching and through His sacrament. Then you will praise Him with lips and heart, confessing that truly, “He has done all things well” for you. Amen.

May the peace of God which passes human understanding guard you hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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