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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 7, 2014
Central Passage
Mark 7:31-37
Description

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

For a long, long time it was the custom of the church that when a proselyte was baptized the minister would place his fingers into the ears of the proselyte and touch his tongue and repeat our Lord’s word command here: ephphatha – be opened.

It was the way the church confessed that it was through Holy Baptism and the reception of the Holy Spirit by which our ears are opened to hear the Word of the Lord and our tongues are loosed that we might praise Him rightly. It is unfortunate that this is no longer a regular part of our baptismal rite; but who knows, perhaps we can resurrect it.

Certainly it would be memorable for those who witness it. Just as surely it was memorable for this deaf mute to have Jesus stick His fingers in his ears and touch his tongue with His spit. Uncomfortable and a little gross, but memorable. Jesus was teaching, as He always does. He was teaching this man what He was going to do. The Lord who made the heavens and the earth was going to remake this man’s ears and tongue.

That’s what He does to us in the waters of Holy Baptism. He remakes us. He remade that deaf mute to be like Him: to hear and speak. And He remakes us in Baptism to be like Him: to hear the Father and to speak in the Spirit. Because that’s what Jesus does. He hears the Father and He speaks in the Spirit.

When your ears are opened by the Lord you hear the Father as Jesus says, “The words that you hear are not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:24).  Your ears hear the Father. And your tongue speaks in the Spirit as it is written, “We have the same Spirit of faith according to what has been written, ‘I believed, and so I spoke,’ we also believe, and so we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).

Hearing the Father and speaking in the Spirit: that is the life of the Christian, the one who has been made new by Christ the crucified.

But there is another part of this that is of equal value for us. And that is that the Lord Jesus looked up in heaven and sighed. Here again the Lord teaches. He doesn’t just teach by passing along information; He teaches by doing, doing the will of the Father. So we learn to be Christians the same way we learn to be good athletes or actors or anything else: by watching the Master and copying Him.

Here the Lord teaches that He prays to the Father who is in heaven. His command to the deaf-mute’s ears and tongue were also a prayer to the Father. And the Father always hears the Son and so the deaf-mutes ears were unstopped and his tongue was loosed, just as the Son had prayed and the Father had heard.

Jesus prays for us, too. He is our High Priest, interceding on our behalf. His prayers are not hidden from us. He prays to the Father that we would hear and believe Him by hearing the words of His apostles. His prayer for us is recording in St. John, chapter 17. He prays that we would remain faithful. He doesn’t pray that we would be taken out of this world or that our diseases and sicknesses would flee from us. He doesn’t pray that our lives would get better or that our loved ones would survive their fiery trials. He prays for faith; that we would trust in our heavenly Father as He trusts in Him.

And so we are here. The Father always hears the Son and so we are here, believing and receiving, hearing and praying ourselves. We hear the word of the Lord in the new ears that He has given us and we pray to the Father with the new tongue that the Lord has loosed. We pray in the Spirit.

That doesn’t mean we don’t pray out loud or that our prayers are unintelligible to the human ear. The Lord’s prayers were both audible and understandable and yet He always spoke in the Spirit. To pray in the Spirit, to speak in the Spirit, simply means to pray and speak the words of the Father. It means to give glory to God as our Lord did here when He gazed into heaven. It means to call upon our heavenly Father for all things as our Lord did here and everywhere, trusting in His Father for all things.

We are people of the Spirit, spiritual beings. That doesn’t mean our bodies don’t matter anymore than it means that Jesus’ body didn’t matter. His body is of the highest importance. For without His body He could not have suffered and died for us; He could not have shed His blood if He’d had no blood to shed. And He could not have been risen from the dead if there was no body to raise.  Not only so, but the Lord healed this man’s body – the deaf-mute – and promises to raise our bodies on the last day. Our bodies are very important. They are our spiritual offering, in fact. By coming here to hear the word of the Lord and receive from the Lord His blessings and promises you are submitting your body to the Lord and offering yourself to Him. This is good and right.

Being people of the Spirit, spiritual people, means that we are guided by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us through the apostles and prophets and guides our feet – that is, what we say and do – by those same apostles and prophets. Being spiritual people means that we, too, with our Lord Jesus, gaze up into the heavens and sigh, calling out to our Father in heaven that He would hear us and give us the true faith of His Son that we should be called the children of God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +