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Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
August 26, 2012
Central Passage
Mark 7:31-37
Description

Note: This sermon is taken from and based largely on a sermon preached by the Rev. Fr. Rolf Prues on September 11, 2011. Pr. Prues' sermon can be found here, http://christforus.org/TrinityTwelveSermon2011.htm

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

This deaf-mute had some good and faithful friends. They knew enough of Jesus to know that He was able and willing to help and have mercy on their friend. So they brought him to Jesus and begged the Lord to heal him, to open his ears and loose his tongue.

 
Wouldn’t it be great if we knew where Jesus was so we could bring Him our friends who are in need of healing and mercy? But you do know where Jesus is. He promises to be with His servants who bear His name and are given His ministry of reconciliation and life, the ministry of righteousness that St. Paul speaks of in today’s Epistle Reading. He promises to be with His saints gathered in His name, where His gospel is preached and His kingdom is proclaimed.
 
There is no greater love than to bring your friend to Jesus.  And it is not hard to do.  It requires only that you have a friend, that you know where Jesus is, and that you bring your friend to where Jesus is.  Your friend can be your husband or wife, your son or daughter, your neighbor, your teacher, your classmate, or coworker.  Your friend needs Jesus. And you know where He is.
The friends of this deaf-mute didn’t sit at home praying that God would heal their friend. They didn’t pray that the Lord would somehow make Himself known to them and come into his life. They got up and took their deaf and mute friend to the one who could help him. The brought Him to Jesus. Why don’t we do that? Oh, we do sometimes. We invite people to church every now and again. We don’t hide the fact that we attend the Lord’s gathering. But do we say to our friends who are hurting and suffering, “Come with me and I will take you to Jesus. He can help you.”
 
No. We don’t. Why? Because we don’t believe. We believe that Jesus died for our sins and is raised again for our justification, and that He alone prepares the way to eternal life. We believe that He is the Son of God. But we don’t believe that church is really where the rubber meets the road.
 
We long for the time when Jesus was out and about, walking from Tyre and Sidon and down through the Decapolis. We wish Jesus would set up shop somewhere so we could see Him and He us and we could actually say to our friends, “Come and see Jesus and be with Him!” We mostly believe that people can be Christian and called disciples of Jesus without going to church. We believe this because we know people who never go to church and yet pray and talk to Jesus and honor and glorify Him. And because we believe that Jesus is more real in our hearts and minds than He is in water and word and bread and wine.
 
Jesus has set up shop. It is here at His gathering. It is not that the Spirit of God does not live within you, He does! And you are the temple of the Most High. But that is something altogether different than saying that to meet you is to meet Jesus. The Spirit of God dwells within you and brings you to where Jesus is and has promised to be.
 
We don’t put enough stock in the fact that the Bible says that the disciples on the road to Emmaus only knew it was Jesus through the breaking of the bread. We prefer to hear and read about how Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room and on the shore of the sea of Tiberius. But that is not how Jesus makes Himself known. He doesn’t appear to us as He did to the 500 and to St. Paul. There’s no promise there. Rather, He promises to be where His word is preached and where His saints are gathered and where His servants are, where His ministry is. He has set up His ministry of reconciliation through the mysteries, through preaching, baptizing, absolution, and through His holy Supper.
 
You know where Jesus is. He promises to be with His gathered people. He promises to be where His servants are. He promises to be where His gospel is preached and His kingdom proclaimed. There is no greater act of love than to bring your friend to church.  The man who was deaf and suffered from an impediment of speech had some good friends.  They were powerless to help him.  They couldn’t do a thing for him.  But they knew who could.  So they brought him to Jesus.
 
You have friends who suffer from all sorts of problems.  You can’t fix them.  You wouldn’t even know where to begin.  But Jesus can.  And he will.  He is both willing and able to help people in need.  Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  And it is love, to bring your friend to him who laid down his life for us all.
 
But we’re afraid that they will come and that their problem – whether it’s disease, heartache, or whatever – won’t be cured. We’re afraid they won’t get their miracle like the deaf-mute got his. So we don’t bring them to Jesus.
 
But consider how Jesus responded to the man’s need.  He took him aside from the crowd.  There you sit in church just a member of a crowd.  But that’s not true.  That’s never true.  God is not like us.  We must divide our attention between this one and that one.  We can’t attend to everyone’s needs; we don’t even know them all.  But God does and He can attend to everyone’s needs.  He takes you where you are as you are and deals with you as an individual. And He will do the same with your friends.
 
The man could neither hear nor speak.  So Jesus talked to him in sign language.  First he put his fingers in the man’s ears.  He did this to tell him he would be giving him the ability to hear.  Then he spat and touched the man’s tongue.  He did this to tell him he would be giving him the ability to speak.  Then he looked up to heaven and sighed.  He did this to tell him that the power by which he was doing what he was doing was God’s power.  Then Jesus spoke.
 
He said to him, “Be opened.”  It wasn’t when Jesus put his fingers in the man’s ears.  It wasn’t when Jesus spat and then touched the man’s tongue.  It wasn’t when Jesus sighed and looked up into heaven.  This is not how Jesus opened the man’s ears and loosened the man’s tongue.  Jesus did this by speaking.  He said, “Be opened!”  By his word he showed mercy.  By his word he gave the man what the man needed.  By his word his fulfilled the love the man’s friends had shown for him by bringing him to Jesus in the first place.
 
Jesus speaks and that solves our problems for us.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is so simple.  Why can’t we learn this lesson?  Why do we insist on seeking God’s help somewhere other than in his holy word?  Where else and how else has he ever helped us?  Who else but God can give us the advice we need?  Where else but in God’s word lies the answer to whatever problem we’re facing?  How else but by hearing God’s word, listening to it, taking it in, will we be able to hear with the ears of faith and through that faith overcome whatever ails us?
 
Jesus told the crowd to remain silent.  Tell no one.  He had not yet fulfilled the law and redeemed the human race.  By preaching about Jesus and leaving out the message of his suffering and death for the sin of the world they would be distorting his true work.  He did not come into this world to provide healing as a prelude to death.  What good are the faculties of hearing and fluent speech for people who will, sooner or later, lose all of their faculties in death?  Jesus love and mercy are greater than that!  He came into this world to save sinners from their sins by bearing all their sins on the cross.  He came to do our duty as the righteous representative of humanity so that we, through faith in him, would receive his righteousness as our own.
 
Yes, he has done all things well.  He made the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.  The crowd got it right.  But they preached when they were supposed to be listening.  That’s a common failure.  We want to talk when we should be listening instead.  First we learn to hear.  Then we learn to speak.  The order is very important, because if we start talking about God before we’ve listened to God talk about himself we’ll invariably get it wrong.  We’ll leave out the most important thing.
 
“Be opened.”  It’s a command.  And it’s a cause.  It does what it says.  That’s why we gather together in Jesus’ name.  It does what God wants it to do. It opens our ears so that we hear the life-giving word of the Lord, and it looses our tongues so that we can sing the praise of the Holy One of Israel.
 
Sometimes we Christians don’t want to go to church because we don’t think it will do any good.  But where God’s word is there is Jesus and when Jesus speaks His words accomplish what he says.  God’s word does in us and for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  God’s word is inherently powerful.  We come burdened by our sins.  The ministry of death engraved on stones speaks against us and our conscience must agree with it.  We have sinned against God.  We have not set him apart as our greatest good.  We have misused his name and ignored his word.  We have not loved him with our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.  And we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.  This we must confess because it’s true.  But confession never removed a single sin from a single soul. 
 
Jesus Christ alone can do that.  And he does it.  What he did so long ago when he went to Calvary to suffer and die is what he gives us right here and now every time we gather in his name.  The sin that blocks our ears from hearing God and that keeps our mouths from singing his praises is forgiven whenever and wherever we hear his gospel, his words of absolution, and the words of the Sacrament, given and shed for you for the remission of sins.  Jesus speaks.  Be opened!  Now we can hear our God speak and sing his praises.
 
In Nomine Iesu
+ Amen +
 
Note: This sermon is taken from and based largely on a sermon preached by the Rev. Fr. Rolf Prues on September 11, 2011. Pr. Prues' sermon can be found here, http://christforus.org/TrinityTwelveSermon2011.htm