Series B Pentecost 16
Mark 7:31-37
October 1, 2000

INTRODUCTION:  Last week's Gospel placed Jesus in Galilee as He was disputing with the Scribes and the Pharisees. He leaves Galilee, and this week, having been in Tyre and Sidon, we find Him in the region of the "ten cities". But wherever He goes, His reputation precedes Him.

Our text tells us "and they brought unto Him a man that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech".  Instead of making a display of the unfortunate man, Jesus took him aside and dealt with him in private and in the man's own language. That's how Jesus dealt with the man then and that is how He chooses to deal with you and me today. He speaks to us according to our need and in a way in which we will understand. He comes to us exactly when we need Him and through His Word He speaks to us and tells us exactly and precisely what we need to hear.

Mark tells us "He put His fingers into his ears and spit and touched his tongue, and looked up to heaven".  It's hard to miss our Lord's message even for the deaf man. Jesus says, "I understand your problem!  You've got ears that don't hear and a tongue that doesn't work.  I'm going to do some-thing about it!  I'm lifting up eyes to heaven 'from whence cometh our help'.  That's My Father's home. But I've left it to enter the world of the deaf and the blind and the dead in trespasses and sin!"

This is what makes Jesus our Lord and Savior. John reminds us: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn.1) Jesus came into our world to combat and defeat those forces which held us captive; the devil, our world, and our sinful flesh. He came to forgive us and to set us free of all of these deadly forces.

And then comes the word, ephphatha,  {which means: "be open!"} - and the rest is history! Yet, No! The rest is not history. The rest is Gospel!  There is something similar about the word ephphatha "be open" in our text for today and the statement "it is finished" of Calvary, where Jesus' very life-blood cries out ephphatha for you and me. We are reminded that "God in Christ was reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting our sin against us"

It is this proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that God's Holy Spirit in the Word and Sacraments continues to speak to the deaf and mute in spirit and the dead in trespasses and sin. There lies the power of God to open ears to the Good News of the kingdom and to loose tongues into glorious confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.

You might ask: "what is the point of all of this?"  As Jesus spoke that word ephphatha "be open" back then, there is one mighty ephphatha yet to be spoken. On "that day" cleansed by your baptism in Jesus' Name, you will stand with a robe washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. You will hear Him say, "By virtue of the merits of My blood-bought redemption, these have done all things well. Now, come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!"

CONCLUSION: The church has a name for that. It comes from the Bible. We call it "grace" and we are called to proclaim it, to celebrate it each day of our lives and to believe it. Rejoice then this day, for in Jesus Christ your sins have been forgiven and heaven is now your home. In Jesus' Holy Name. Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria+