God is with us in Word and Sacrament

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Mark 7:31–37


There is always a bit of tension when we read about the miracles of Jesus. That tension comes not from the fact that Jesus did mighty works for people then, that He healed the sick, made the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the dead to live. In fact, there is a sense in which we rejoice at hearing about His miracles because in them we see the heart of Jesus, the great compassion that our Lord and Savior has for fallen mankind. Rather this tension comes from the seeming absence of His intervention for our good now. There is sometimes a sense, in the back of our minds, when we hear of his miracles; that make us wonder: Where is He now? Why is He not doing those things for us as He once did for them then?

The simple answer is this: Jesus didn’t come to take away our illnesses. He didn’t come to make the blind see now, or the deaf to hear now. He came to take away our sin, to be our savior, to conquer death and hell and keep us from everlasting damnation. He came to fulfill the promises of God in the Old Testament. His miracles are proof of that. His healing of the deaf mute is the fulfillment of Isiah’s prophecy that in that day, when Jesus came, the deaf will hear the words from a book. He did because Jesus, the Word of God in flesh, spoke and he heard. This and all his miracles are proof that Jesus came to be savior; that He is the seed of Eve who would crush the head of our enemy the serpent, that God’s people would obtain fresh joy and exult in the name of the Lord. His purpose was to die on the cross to take away our sin and save us from death and hell.

But we don’t always rejoice in the Lord. We don’t exult in the Holy One of Israel. We have heard this gospel so many times that it doesn’t always ring true anymore. We take it for granted. We assume these eternal truths, and we aren’t always impressed with them as we once were. We are like the Church of Ephesus in the Book of Revelation. Jesus spoke to them saying, “I know you are enduring . . . . But I have this against you, you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:3–5). What we don’t realize is that what Jesus has done for us is far greater than healing us of our present infirmities. Remember what he said about eyes and hands that cause you sin. It is far better to enter into eternal life without your eye or your hand, than to enter into eternal fire fully intact. We have lost our first love of God and His Word of salvation. We have not loved or trusted in Him above all things. We have sadly forgotten all that He has and still does for us.

Jesus came to be a physician of body and soul for those who believe in Him to live eternally. He did not promise to take away everything that ails you: (to give you the good life now, to make your rich, or healthy, or happy.) He came to take away your sin so that you would believe His word and promises and, thus, would live eternally in His kingdom with the Holy Trinity, with the angels and archangels, with all the company of heaven.

So while Jesus did not come to give you sight, to make you walk, to cleanse you of leprosy, to raise the dead now to live here, to give hearing to the deaf and voice to those who can not speak, He does to you exactly what He did for all of them, only the outcome is far greater and the future with those things is far better. What Jesus did for the deaf mute is precisely what He does for each of you, now. Jesus brought the life of the deaf mute into conformity and in captivity to His Word. He spoke “Ephatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And the deaf man heard and his tongue was loosed.

Jesus speaks to you, not be opened. He speaks to you, you are my brother, a son of my Father in heaven. And you are. By His Word with water, you are a child of your Father in heaven. And thus, you cry out, Abba, Father, in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and petition. And your Father promises to hear your cry and answer according to your good and His gracious will. He says to you that in Him you have deliverance from temptations and sustaining grace for all your difficulties. He promises to provide for all your needs of both body and soul (Phil 4:10). He says to you, your sins are forgiven you. And where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is eternal life and salvation (1 John 1:9; Luke 18:29–30; John 3:16; Romans 6:22–23).

And He promises you the Holy Spirit. The spirit that creates and sustains faith in God’s life-giving promises. Jesus sends His Spirit to convict you of your sin and then of God’s righteousness. He shows you your sin, where you have failed and where you have done wrong, and then He shows you the righteousness of Christ, gives it to you in exchange for all your sin. He speaks it away with His Word and with His Word proclaims you holy and righteous because of Jesus Christ.

Imagine that! He came to make you His, to make you live, not now, but for all eternity. And if your present sufferings, make you yearn for what He has promised in your future, that is all the better because the glory that awaits you, St. Paul declares, is not even worth comparing to what you suffer now.

Indeed, He does all things well. By His Word, He made the deaf mute to hear and speak. How much more does He do for us! He makes us who were dead in our trespasses and sins to be alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. He makes us who once sat in darkness to walk in His marvelous light. He makes us who were once no people to be God’s holy people, righteous in His sight. By His Word, He makes us who are sinners to be His saints! And He touches your tongues not with fingers and spit, but with His holy, risen, living body and blood. He takes away your sins. He gives you eternal life. This is what He has always done. It is what He still does today. And what He will continue to do in the future. For this is why He came. Amen.


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