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Please turn your attention to our Gospel lesson for today as we are reminded that Jesus does everything well.
Through Isaiah God foretold that when the Messiah came the eyes of the blind (would) be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame (would) leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. When Jesus healed the man who was deaf and mute the people, even those living in the predominately gentile area of the Decapolis, made the connection. He has done everything well, he even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. But did they understand what that meant? Did they really agree that everything Jesus said and did was good? What about us? Do we always agree that everything Jesus says and does is good?
Consider how Jesus did everything well for this man. I imagine this man must have been a little confused and frightened. He had good friends who were bringing him to Jesus, but, since he couldn’t hear, it must have been difficult for them to explain to him who Jesus was or why they were bringing him to Jesus. So, Jesus calms his fears. He takes him away from the distractions of the crowds. He uses a kind of sign language to let him know what he is going to do for him. He puts his fingers in his ears to let him know he is going to do something about his inability to hear. He touches his tongue to let him know that he is going to do something about his difficulty in speaking. He looks up to heaven to let him know that he has come from heaven and that what is about to happen is from the Lord. He shows this man the kind of empathy, compassion and understanding that he had likely never experienced in his life, for most people had probably either ignored him, or looked down on him. And then, simply by the power of his word, with just one word, he heals him. He says Ephphatha, and the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Everyone recognized what an amazing miracle this was. This man now could not only hear, but immediately was able to speak plainly. He didn’t need months of speech therapy. As with almost all of Jesus’ miracles, and the miracles performed by the Apostles in Jesus’ name, the healing was immediate and complete. Like crippled man Peter healed who could immediately not only walk, but jump, even though he had been lame from birth, this man could hear and speak plainly immediately.
Today we are amazed by stories of people who have been in some kind of accident and have been told by Doctors that they would never walk again, but after months, maybe years of rehab and hard work, are able to walk normally. We sometimes call that a miracle, and certainly it didn’t happen without God’s blessing. But if we were to witness something like what is described here in Mark, a complete and immediate healing, right before our eyes, we too would be overwhelmed with amazement. We couldn’t help but realize that what happened was done by the hand of God.
The people said, Jesus has done everything well. He not only healed the man, but he did so in a very loving and compassionate way. Yet it seems that the people didn’t live up to he full meaning of their statement.
When Jesus was about to heal the man who had been brought to him, as he looked up to heaven, he sighed. Mark doesn’t tell us exactly why, but when this word is used other places in Scripture it is most often used in connection with a longing for heaven because of the painful effects of sin. It seems that Jesus was expressing his sadness over what sin had done to the Father’s once perfect world, and to this man in particular. Often, as Jesus looked out over the crowds of people who had come to him, bringing those who had sicknesses and diseases, and those who were demon possessed, we are told that he had compassion on them. He sighed. His heart went out to them because of the suffering that sin had brought upon them, not only physically, but spiritually. More than anyone, he understood the punishment, the eternal suffering everyone deserves, because everyone sins.
Jesus sighed, maybe because he was saddened as he witnessed firsthand the physical suffering caused by sin, but maybe also because he knew these crowds would focus on the wrong thing. Yes, he provided a wonderful, miraculous healing that led people to think that he must be the Messiah and confess that he did everything well, but they would not put their confession in to action. They would focus on the outward. They would rejoice that someone had come who could fix anything that was wrong with their bodies by just speaking a word. But, like so many who go to faith healers today, they would forget that their bodies would still age, and that someday they would still face death. They wouldn’t see that Jesus didn’t come just to heal the body temporarily. He came to make sure that when our bodies do wear out and we stand before God we will not be cast out of his presence forever.
In order to keep us from being separated from God forever Jesus had to do all things well. He had to fulfill God’s demands perfectly. Without realizing it, these people confessed what the Father confirmed from heaven when he said of Jesus, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he did everything well. He remained perfect and holy and without sin. And because he did everything well, because he remained without sin, he was able to take our sins upon himself, even our sins of focusing too much on the outward; and have the Father punish him in our place. The father showed that Jesus’ sacrifice in our place was accepted by raising him from the dead.
The crowds praised Jesus and said he did everything well, but when Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone they apparently didn’t think he was doing “well”. They acted as if they knew better. They did not obey his command and proclaimed what he had done to as many as possible.
Our first reaction is to be very hard on them and to think, “How could you do that! Jesus is right there with you telling you not to do something and you do it anyway!” But, how often doesn’t that describe us? How often don’t we confess that Jesus has done everything well, he is our Lord and Savior, but then our actions show that we don’t think well of what he commands us?
The command Jesus gives us is just the opposite of the one he gave the people of the Decapolis. Jesus tells us to let the whole world know who he is and what he has done for us and for them. He commands us to proclaim the gospel to all. But what do we do? We keep quiet.
Jesus sighed. He knew what would happen if he healed the deaf man who was brought to him. He knew in advance that the people would not listen to him and spread the news of the healing even though he commanded them not to. Jesus knew that if these crowds published what he had done people would see him only as a physical healer and not as the savior from sin. Jesus knew that if these crowds published what he had done his enemies would be angered and his ministry would be more difficult. But what did Jesus do? He healed the man anyway.
Professor Deutschlander commented that, “In all of God’s gifts to us he runs the risk that we will love the gift more than the giver. We won’t put him first. Yet he gives it anyway in grace. He can’t stop giving.”
What a gracious God we have! As it was with the people who witnessed this miracle, he knows that one minute we will confess that he has done everything well, and the next we will act as if what he commands isn’t good and do our own, sinful thing. He knows that when he gives us the gift of forgiveness we will sometimes use it as an excuse to sin. But he gives us his word, and he gives us his forgiveness anyway. In compassion and mercy he knows that if he doesn’t we will no chance of being saved.
Jesus restored this man’s ability to hear and speak. Jesus has given us the ability to hear and speak, not just so that we could enjoy music and chat with our family and friends about the weather and football. He has given us the ability to hear and speak so that we can listen to him speak to us through his word, and, realizing that he has done everything well, that he has accomplished God’s plan of salvation and won eternal life for us, we would speak about him when he tells us to speak and be silent when he tells us to be silent.
Jesus has done everything well. Because he has, we look forward to the time when there will be no one who is deaf, no one who is lame; when we and everyone in heaven will use our tongues to praise God continually for all he has done for us in Jesus.