Sep 102018
 

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Mark 7:31-37

 

I invite you to open your folders or Bibles to our gospel lesson for today as we see how Jesus does everything well.

 

Our lesson begins by telling us verse 31 Jesus left the region of Tyre again and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, within the region of the Decapolis

After being rejected in his home town of Nazareth, having many disciples leave because he challenged them to think spiritually not physically, and having Pharisees and experts in the law challenge him for letting his disciples eat with ceremonially unclean hands, Jesus left Israel for a while. He went to the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. After he cast out a demon from a Gentile widow’s daughter he traveled back through Galilee and crossed the Jordan to the area of the Decapolis where he had previously cast demons out of a possessed man. This man had wanted to follow Jesus but he told him to stay in the area and witness there.

It seems that this man’s witness had borne fruit. After Jesus had healed him the people had asked Jesus to leave. Now, when he returns, they seem to welcome him and to bring this man, seemingly deaf at birth because of his difficulty speaking, to Jesus pleading with him to place his hand on him and heal him.

How did Jesus respond? V 33 Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd. He put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. After he looked up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”)

Why did Jesus choose to heal him the way he did? Why not just put his hand on him and heal him? Why take him aside? Why touch his ears and tongue? Why not just speak a word and heal him on the spot?

Jesus, as God, could have simply spoken a word and healed him, but he does what he does for a reason. He always has in mind what is best for us when he deals with us and whatever problems we are facing. He does everything well.

We aren’t told what Jesus was thinking, but we can make some conclusions from his actions. Remember, this man was deaf. He likely had no clue why people were bringing him to Jesus. He was very likely frightened. Jesus calmed his fears by taking him away from the crowd where he wouldn’t be the center of everyone’s gawking. Once Jesus had the man’s attention he communicates to him what he intends to do through a form of sign language. He puts his fingers in the man’s ears. He touches the man’s tongue. He implies, “I know your problem. I know that you can’t hear and that you have difficulty speaking. These are the things that I am going to fix.” And then he looked up to heaven. He let the man know that the source of the healing he was about to experience was from heaven, a miracle of God, not a trick. He sighed. How sad it is for Jesus to see what sin has done to his once perfect creation. Because there is sin in the world people are born with handicaps. Even creation groans, Paul says, as it experiences the decay of sin and looks forward to the new heaven and the new earth that God will bring about on the last day.

And then Jesus speaks. How interesting. Remember, this is a deaf man. But Jesus speaks. He says, ephatha, be opened.  And just as it was at the creation of the world when he said “let there be light” and there was, so here the word of God creates what it commands. Verse 35 Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak plainly. Still today, through his word he creates the light of faith in our hearts. Through his word he declares that our sins are forgiven, and they are.

Immediately the man’s ears were opened and his tongue loosed! Take note of that word immediately. It’s a favorite word of the evangelist Mark. Immediately, not gradually, after many months of speech therapy, this man who had never been able to hear or to speak plainly, did both. This is one of the signs of a miracle of God. It’s not a progressive thing, over time. The healing is immediate and complete. The deaf man can hear and speak plainly immediately. The man who was lame from birth jumps up and walks immediately, no physical therapy needed. As Isaiah foretold, God would come, Immanuel, God with us. And when he did, then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy.

The miracles of Jesus confirm for us, as they did for John the Baptist and his disciples, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Savior who was to come. We need not look for another. They remind us of what is ahead for us. Jesus has the power over demons, over any kind of illness or handicap, over the wind and the waves, and even over death itself. When he returns in glory on the last day all these evils; demons, illnesses, handicaps, storms, even death itself will be gone. All the affects of sin will be gone for good. As we join Jesus is sighing over the affects that sin has on this world and on our bodies, we join John in saying, even so, come Lord Jesus.

The people were amazed and they were saying that Jesus does everything well! In the excitement of the moment, having witnessed a great miracle, they spoke the truth. Jesus does everything well, not just making the deaf hear and the mute speak, he does everything well. He was perfectly obedient to his parents. He resisted every temptation of the devil. He did his heavenly father’s will always, even when it was the Father’s will that he suffer and die and take on himself the just punishment for the sins of the whole world even though he had never sinned. Jesus does everything well!

It’s easy to confess that when we are sitting in church and listening to the Gospel writer tell us about one of Jesus’ miracles. It’s easy to confess that when we are reminded of how he paid for our sins and how he’s preparing a place for us to live with him forever in the perfection of heaven. But do our words and actions always show that we believe he always does everything well?

The crowds showed by their actions that they didn’t think Jesus always did everything well. He told them not to publish what he had done. But they didn’t listen. They published it anyway. By doing so they showed that they thought they knew better than Jesus. He wasn’t really doing everything well when he told them to keep this to themselves. As James says, they listened to the word of Jesus, but they didn’t do what he said.

True, the command of Jesus didn’t seem to make sense. It was good news that Jesus had healed this man. The miracle gave witness to the truth that he was the Messiah who always did everything well. Why not share it! Because Jesus told them not to, and if you really believed that he does everything well, then you would believe his command was good, even if you didn’t understand why; even if doing the opposite seemed to make more sense.

Jesus does everything well. Do your words and actions show that you believe this? Aren’t there times when you think, or even say, “It doesn’t look like Jesus is doing everything well?” What about when your corps are destroyed by hail or flooding? Do you say Jesus is doing everything well then? What about when your child is sick, or a child is born deaf, or with some other handicap? Is Jesus doing everything well? What about when innocent people become casualties of war, or of a mass shooting. Is Jesus doing everything well? What about when you share the truth of the Scripture, the law and the gospel, in the most loving way you can, and the person you are sharing it with rejects it, gets angry with you, or even calls you unloving and hateful? Do you say that Jesus is doing everything well or are you tempted to doubt that truth? Are there times when you tempted to think or say that Jesus made a mistake, or that he should have kept something from happening, or done something differently? Are you tempted to listen to what Jesus says, confess that he does everything well, and then do the opposite of what he asks as these people did? If you are honest, your answer is yes.

When that’s the case, we need to go back to the basics. Bad things happen because of sin, not because of God. Jesus did everything well by coming into world and living perfect life in your place, always listening and doing Father’s will perfectly for you, in your place. He did everything well by going to the cross to pay for all the times you question his goodness, for all the times you listen to his word, but then don’t do what he says because you think you know better.

As we review the basics, as we recognize our sin and rejoice in God’s gracious forgiveness, we are more able to say in face of illness, disaster, whatever is bad in life, Jesus is still doing everything well. He is, and always will keep his promise to make every evil we face serve our eternal good, so that everything will be well for us for all eternity in the perfection of heaven.

Jesus does everything well. Trust that truth. Show your trust by listening to his word and doing what he says.

 

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