Bible Text: Mark 7:31-37 | Preacher: Pastor Christian Preus | Series: Trinity 2022 | Of all the horrible things the devil has done to us, all the disease and pain and death he’s made us suffer, by far the worst is his making us deaf to God’s Word and silent in His praises. This was the dignity of man, our honor in the beginning, what raised us far above the beasts and made us sons of God, the envy of angels, that God created us in His image and spoke to us and we to Him. It was that we heard God’s Word, understood Him, wanted to learn more and more from Him, and so loved Him and spoke to Him as a dear child speaks to his dear father. This was our nature, our happiness, and this is what the devil robbed us of. So when Jesus heals the deaf and mute man it is a sign of what He’s come to do for you. He really healed that deaf and mute man in his body, but at the same time He gave a picture of what He does for you in your soul. Jesus does this very often. He healed a blind man once, a man born blind, by spitting in the dust and making mud and putting it on the man’s eyes and then having him wash in the pool of Siloam. And when Jesus finally meets the man again and the man sees Jesus and believes, Jesus says, “For judgment I have come into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may be made blind.” So Jesus makes the blind man an object lesson. “You see what I did for him? For his body. This is what I’ve come to do for you. For your soul. He sees Me and recognizes Me as His Lord. Open your eyes. Look at Me and believe.” And He does the same thing here with the deafmute. Look at him and see what Jesus does for you.
So look and see. See that Jesus is more than eager to help the man. He’s drawn to the man by his friends, who pray for him, plead for him. So don’t ever think your prayers aren’t heard by Jesus. He’s eager to answer them. Especially when you’re praying for those you love whose ears are deaf to God’s Word and who don’t confess Him with their mouths. Pray for them. The Lord hears. He collects your tears in His bottle. Each one is precious to Him. He has come to make the deaf hear and the mute speak, so pray for it and make your will His will and wait His good time.
But know also that your Lord uses means, uses stuff, to save people. He did it with the blind man, used mud and spit to give him sight. He does it with the deafmute too. He uses means, puts His fingers into the man’s ears and spits and touches the man’s tongue. Then He speaks a word, Ephphatha. He could have just thought it, willed it, and it would have been done. But that’s not how He works. Recognize the way of your Lord. Jesus scolds the Pharisees for being able to tell by the signs in the sky whether rain is coming, and yet they don’t know the signs of God’s Kingdom. Know how your Lord works, how He comes to you, look and see that He works through means. Don’t look for some great sign, some miracle from heaven. Don’t expect the spiritual experience that your feelings think is necessary. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Look at the One who gave the sign of Jonah by spending three days dead in the earth and then rising again the third. See what He says. See how He works. He’s not interested in spectacular displays. He’s no magician and His Church is no carnival. He says, Go and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Lock your eyes on that and see the power of your Baptism, that it gives you the name of God Himself and the right to call on Him again as Father. He says take eat, this is my body. Drink of it, this is my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins. And the body that bled to wash your sins away, that crushed the devil, that buried death in the grave, gives you the life of the Conqueror Himself. He says, He who has ears to hear, let him hear. And the words he speaks are the words of eternal life. He works through means. And you have them. You have Jesus working miracles right in front of you. And He’s just as eager now as He was then to open ears and loose tongues and restore you again to the former glory lost in the garden.
Look and see that Jesus groans. He isn’t far away from us. He isn’t unfeeling and unknowing of our pains. They pain Him. He sees this man who cannot hear and cannot speak and it hurts Him, He groans. It is the spiritual condition far more than the bodily that pains Jesus. The devil has robbed the man of hearing Jesus’ word and confessing Jesus’ name. Robbed him of what makes him a man, robbed him of God’s image. This last week I lost my voice. That had never happened to me before. I couldn’t talk beyond a whisper. I couldn’t sing. And it meant a very depressing change at my home. I couldn’t discipline my kids and keep order like God tells me to – try keeping a three-year-old or a one-year-old in line with no voice. I couldn’t read the Bible to my kids, couldn’t lead the prayers. I couldn’t even come close to leading them in singing hymns. I had to delegate it all to my wife and my older kids. It changed everything. And it got me thinking of how much worse the spiritual loss would be than the bodily loss, not just not being able to talk, but not wanting to talk to God. That I wouldn’t want to lead my home and discipline my children and teach them to be respectful and to love one another. That I wouldn’t want to read God’s word to my children or discuss how to live like a Christian with them. That I wouldn’t want to lead them in prayer or sing hymns with them. I was robbed of my voice and that was bad enough. But to lose my zeal to be and act like a Christian father and a Christian man, that would be to lose the very essence of life. And that’s what Jesus groaned over. That’s what pained Him. What the devil robs people of in their very soul. It’s why Jesus say, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul?”
What Jesus gives to that deaf-mute bodily He gives to you spiritually. He gives you a zeal to hear His Word and confess His name. This is the restoration of paradise. It is man talking with God and God with man. When that zeal is waning, when you grow tired and lazy, when you descend into thinking life really is only about food and clothing, that you are no more precious than the birds of the air, that life consists merely in eating, drinking, working, playing, and watching a screen, when you are losing the zeal to read God’s Word, live the Christian life, fight against sin, pray to the Lord who bought you by His blood, then look to Jesus. Let Jesus’ word recall you. You are far more precious than this. Remember your Baptism, that God named you His child and you pledged to live like it. Remember again the joy of receiving Jesus’ body and blood and thirst for it again. Let Jesus cast the devil out and open your ears again and loosen your tongue to be what God created you to be. The Word of your Savior is no less powerful now than it was then.
Look again at the groan of your Lord Jesus. He groans and cries out for you from the cross. Every pain and every sin the devil cast on you, that you’ve participated in, that would drag you down to hell, that has closed your ears to God and burdened your tongue with words unworthy of your Maker, Jesus bears on the cross. He groans and He cries out to His Father and His Father listens, sees the love of His Son who takes your place and restores to you not just your body but your soul. I never will forget this crying; In faith I’ll trust it all my days, And when o’er all my sins I’m sighing, Into the Father’s heart I’ll gaze; For there is always to be found Free mercy without end and bound.
Look and see how everyone reacts to Jesus’ work. They marvel. They are so happy. They talk about it. Jesus tells them not to talk about it and they disobey. They have to confess. With the heart you believe unto righteousness and with the mouth you confess unto salvation. They don’t mean to disobey their Lord. Jesus often tells people not to talk of His miracles. But no one ever obeys Him. And He doesn’t get mad at them, doesn’t strike them down with a thunderbolt. It’s like me telling my kids not to sing too loud, to blend with the other voices, and they disobey, they sing loud, and I’m not mad, how could I be? But Jesus doesn’t tell us to keep quiet. No, once He has suffered and died and risen, He gives free rein, He sends His Holy Spirit for the work, to be as loud in our confession as our little hearts can manage.
This isn’t a call to the ministry for you. It’s a call to live the Christian life. To confess at home, to realize the treasure you have that you are children of God and have free access by Jesus’ blood to the very heart of your Father. The LCMS just released a survey that it didn’t need to do. They could have just asked me and saved the money. Or better yet, ask Jesus or consult common sense. They determined that those who talk about Jesus at home and read the Bible regularly and sing hymns and have devotions, they stay in the church, their children do, at a ridiculously high rate. You fathers and mothers who are still raising children, you don’t need a survey to tell you that. Confess your Lord Jesus at home. Send your children to Sunday School and to Mount Hope Lutheran School to hear God’s Word every day, but don’t use that as an excuse not to talk about Jesus at home, pray, praise and give thanks, at home. And if you don’t have kids at home, it doesn’t change a thing. We are all children of God and what they need we need. The finger of Jesus, the finger of God, the Holy Spirit, has opened your ears, the body and blood of Jesus has touched your tongue and loosed it. Satan, you wicked one, own now your Master. Jesus has come, He the mighty Redeemer. Amen.