September 12, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
31 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.
33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
He does not know why he is here at church this morning. Young Clark was brought here this morning by his mom and dad. He usually stays in one of the pews during worship, but not today. Today he is surrounded by friends and family, and his mom and dad brought him up to the front of church. Then someone poured water on his head, and now he is back in the pew.
A long time ago, there was a man who was sitting in front of the temple in Jerusalem who thought he knew what he was doing. The man was born lame or unable to walk, so he was carried to the temple to beg from those going into the temple. In Acts 3, after Jesus had gone back into heaven, two of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter and John, walked by this man who was unable to work and begging to survive. As he called out for money, Peter told the man, 4… “Look at us!” 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And Peter took his hand, helped him up and the man was completely healed. 8 … Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. That day, the man thought he knew why he was at the temple. He thought he was there to beg for enough money to survive. Instead, the man was fully healed from his lifelong illness and the message of Jesus’ gift of eternal life was shared with him. By God’s grace, the man had been freed from begging to get a job, to travel, to take care of himself, to make enough money to support a family, and he had been given new life in Christ at the good news of God’s love, forgiveness of sins, freedom from death and hell, and eternal life in heaven.
A long time ago, there was a group of people who knew what they were doing. In Mark 7, we hear that Jesus had been traveling North of the area associated with the Jews. He was intentionally going to Gentiles or the people who were not descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to people who were not familiar with the Old Testament prophecies of a Savior and the Word of the one true God. Jesus arrived at a place called the Decapolis, a region he had been to before and healed a demon possessed man who we are told in Mark 5, 20 … “the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” When this group of people heard Jesus was back, they knew they had to bring a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment to be healed by Jesus.
There was a time when someone knew they had to bring you to Jesus. Each of you has a different story about the time someone brought you to Jesus, but each of you had the same sickness. And Jesus brought each of you the same healing. The sickness you and I have has always been with us as David wrote in Psalm 51, 5 “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” And because of that sin, we break God’s law by thinking, saying and doing selfish, hurtful, wicked, evil things. Even if we had only done one bad and sinful thing throughout our whole life, we would still be guilty and face punishment as James wrote, 2:10 “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” And so Paul wrote in Romans 3, how we are all affected by and active in sin, 23 “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We cannot change this about ourselves. We cannot bring ourselves to God or choose to follow him as Paul wrote in Romans 8, 7 “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” We were all sick with sin to the point of death and eternal punishment in hell. We were sick until Jesus healed us.
When the group who knew what they were doing brought the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment to Jesus, he healed him. Jesus took special care with the man healing him in a personal way to make sure he knew Jesus was the one healing him. We read in Mark 7, 33 “After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means ‘Be opened!’). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.” The man did not know who Jesus was or what he could do for him, but Jesus knew this man and how he could heal him. Jesus’ motions communicated the healing he was going to bring and as Jesus looked to heaven, he communicated where the power was coming from to heal him. Then, with a word, Jesus healed the man. For the first time in his life, he could hear and communicate. It was a miracle. The man could now interact with his family and friends, he could take care of himself and even provide for a family. More than that, this man now knew Jesus, the Son of God. He was able to hear of the soul healing power of Jesus to forgive sins, to make this man right with God, to give him peace and the hope of eternal life accomplished through Jesus’ coming death and resurrection.
Jesus opened your ears to hear he has done everything to save you. At a time in God’s people Israel’s history when they had stopped listening to God and were facing punishment, he sent the prophet Isaiah to call them back to listen to God and be saved through him. God gave the prophet these words in Isaiah 35, 4 “say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” God promised he would come with power to save his people. He also promised those who stopped looking to him and listening to him, would again see and hear. These promises came true for you and the world through Jesus. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2, 4 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Even though you and I, Israel and all people were dead in our sins, condemned for our hostility and evil, God saved us. Mercy means not treating us how we deserve. God’s love and grace made us alive by treating Jesus according to our sins by putting him to death on the cross and giving us life through his resurrection as Peter, who healed the man who could not walk in the name of Jesus in Acts 3, wrote in 1 Peter 3, 18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” This is also the good news from John 3, 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
One of the ways God opens ears to hear and believe in him is through baptism. Again in 1 Peter 3, we hear 21 … baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You have a clear conscience before God through baptism. You no longer have guilt before God, you have no unresolved sins, you do not have anything to make up for or work at before God. You have been saved and you are without sin, perfect, good, worthy, holy and righteous because of your baptism, as we hear in Galatians 3, 27 “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Whatever sins stained you, they have been covered over with Christ. When God looks at you he sees a white robe of righteousness, not dark, stained rags filthy with sin. Peter again assures us of the power of baptism and who it is for in Acts 2, 38 “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’” Through baptism God sends the gift of the Holy Spirit to you, to your children and to all those God will call to faith. God opens ears to hear and believe through baptism. He tells us that baptism connects us to Jesus’ death and resurrection forgiving our sins and giving us eternal life. And through baptism God gives the gift of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that gift of faith is for people of all ages to connect them to their Savior Jesus. Jesus has brought each of you full healing through his Word spoken at your baptism, and his Word heard and read throughout your life.
Young Clark was brought here this morning by his mom and dad. He usually stays in one of the pews during worship, but not today. Today he is surrounded by friends and family, and his mom and dad brought him up to the front of church to be baptized. Someday Clark will be told what happened here today, and like all of us who are baptized, he will be amazed at what God has done for him. After Jesus healed the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, Mark wrote, 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Jesus asked the crowds not to share what he had done because he did not want the people focused on his power to heal physical illness. He wanted them to see his power to heal from sin, death and hell at the cross and at the empty tomb. What God has done for Clark, for you and for the world cannot be contained; what Jesus has done must be shared. Jesus has done everything well. He has done everything to save you in your baptism, in your coming to faith, in your salvation and to give you a future home in heaven. Give thanks today and always that your ears were opened by Jesus to hear he has done everything well for your healing. Amen.