MARK 7:31-37; 2 COR. 3:4-11; ISAIAH 29:17-24
HE HAS DONE AND IS DOING – ALL THINGS WELL!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


They were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


Do you agree that Jesus does all things well – for example in creating your ears? Right now your outer ear is capturing sound sending it down the ear canal to your ear drum. Your middle ear amplifies the sound through the three tiniest bones in your body the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup (the only bones that never grow from the time of birth). Ever wonder how those miniscule bones knew not to grow while all your other bones grew? This bony apparatus increases the sound pressure 20 times and moves the vibration from your ear drum through a window to the inner ear. There incredible things take place! This tiny snail-shaped chamber named the cochlea takes the mechanical vibrations from the middle ear and converts them into electrical signals understandable to your brain. To do this fluid-filled channels and tiny hairs – called cilia (too small to be seen individually – even under a microscope) - these cilia open and close molecular level trap doors 20-20,000 times per second. And wondrously – you hear – at present these words! Do you agree that Jesus does all things well? What a tremendous created gift Jesus has given you in your ears, for – All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).


However things certainly didn’t seem to be going well for the man in our text. He had lived in silence – his ears imprisoned with deafness. His tongue also was bound by a hindrance of speech. He had never heard the name of Jesus uttered. He could not speak clearly of his hopes and fears and desires. What He did have, were friends who had heard of Jesus and who could speak. They brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. That’s why they were saying, “He has done all things well.

TWELFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

MARK 7:31-372 COR. 3:4-11ISAIAH 29:17-24
HE HAS DONE AND IS DOING – ALL THINGS WELL!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


They were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” Dear hearers of the Word made flesh:


Do you agree that Jesus does all things well – for example in creating your ears? Right now your outer ear is capturing sound sending it down the ear canal to your ear drum. Your middle ear amplifies the sound through the three tiniest bones in your body the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup (the only bones that never grow from the time of birth). Ever wonder how those miniscule bones knew not to grow while all your other bones grew? This bony apparatus increases the sound pressure 20 times and moves the vibration from your ear drum through a window to the inner ear. There incredible things take place! This tiny snail-shaped chamber named the cochlea takes the mechanical vibrations from the middle ear and converts them into electrical signals understandable to your brain. To do this fluid-filled channels and tiny hairs – called cilia (too small to be seen individually – even under a microscope) - these cilia open and close molecular level trap doors 20-20,000 times per second. And wondrously – you hear – at present these words! Do you agree that Jesus does all things well? What a tremendous created gift Jesus has given you in your ears, for – All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3).


However things certainly didn’t seem to be going well for the man in our text. He had lived in silence – his ears imprisoned with deafness. His tongue also was bound by a hindrance of speech. He had never heard the name of Jesus uttered. He could not speak clearly of his hopes and fears and desires. What He did have, were friends who had heard of Jesus and who could speak. They brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. That’s why they were saying, “He has done all things well.


Did Jesus do this act of healing well?
Unlike purported “faith healers” of our day – Jesus set up no stage. He wore no flashy suit with the cameras rolling. Rather, He took this man away from the crowd and gave His full attention to him. This man could not hear his friends begging Jesus to lay His hand on him. But He could perceive a bit of the sign language Jesus used as He stuck His fingers into his ears and spit and touched his tongue! Jesus used means – physical means – with His Word - to heal him.


"And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Consider the symphony of sound flooding into his ears! The noise of the crowd - the voices of his friends! What it must have been like to hear his own voice now speaking plainly! His newly opened ears also heard the voice of Jesus. Ironically, the first thing He heard Jesus saying was the charge that they should tell no one he had received this astounding gift! He and His friends were amazed but the Giver of the gift did not want it broadcast just yet. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.


You see, Jesus did not want to be known primarily in this way – as a performer of signs on this groaning earth. That is always what human hearts tend toward. He did this and other kind and merciful signs to point to the new heavens and the new earth that He brings. But the signs were not the main matter – He was! He fed 5000 proclaiming Himself the Bread of Life! He confronted the woman at the well proclaiming Himself the Living Water. He raised Lazarus proclaiming Himself the Resurrection and the Life! He who restored the hearing and speaking of this man – is the Word made flesh! He is God’s answer!


Do you agree that He does all things well? Fellow-redeemed, this miracle proclaims Jesus as the Gift that heals your hearing and sets free your speaking. For listening to the wrong words - all Adam’s descendants are left deaf and dumb in spiritual matters. That’s why our ears itch to hear compliments - but it is so hard for us to hear about our faults. That’s why our ears are open to words of ease and glory but closed to words of suffering and the cross. That’s why our ears are alert to bargains and good investments and earthly advantage but more hard-of-hearing when it comes to first priority cheerful generosity for the Gospel.


Like the man in the Gospel we are by nature deaf and mute towards God. When God speaks, we don’t hear it with our native ears! This obstruction in our hearing also causes a barrier in our speaking of God and our praying to God. You see, these two organs are crucial in the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever. That’s why Jesus continues to come to touch you. He is sticking His fingers in your ears again this morning (evening) through the preaching of His Word. In Scripture, the “finger of God” refers to the Holy Spirit and His work. It is the Holy Spirit’s work to testify to Christ – for faith comes by hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ (Romans 10:17). God’s word – spoken into the ear lodges in the heart and comes forth in lip and life. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:10).


It is therefore no small thing that you gather to hear God’s Word this morning. You need this healing touch from Jesus in an ongoing way! The Holy Spirit continually bears witness to Christ and thereby continues to open your ears. To this day the greatest miracle and mightiest work of God in you is giving you ears to hear His Word and a tongue that honors His name.


To this end God sends out ministers of the New Covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit – not the ministry of condemnation but the ministry of righteousness. Such ministers have no sufficiency in themselves. The sufficiency is from God – in His Word of life!


And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”  Dr. Luther said that by looking up to heaven Jesus is saying to the man, “that is where your help is coming from – the Father who sent Me is at work to heal you.”  Luther continued that Jesus’ passionate sigh or groan has connotations of grief and disapproval and a fervent desire for things to be made right. Jesus knew how deep our brokenness is and what price He would have to pay to fix the world’s deafness. Luther saw here a common sigh from Jesus over all tongues and all ears from Adam to the last human being to be born including ours. He also saw in the groaning of Jesus the recognition that this man would soon sin with his newly healed ears and tongue. Like our ears his ears would be tickled by gossip and flattery and false teaching. Like us, so also this man would not be able to tame his newly freed tongue. In love, there is good reason for Jesus to sigh and groan in grief over the ears and tongues of sinful mankind including ours.


Do you agree that Jesus does all things well? In view of this disjointed world with the news you hear and read - in view of your own life with its pressures right now - at home, in college, in the workplace, in retirement – in view of your own groaning and sighing in this troubled world, is Jesus doing all things well for you?


The Great Physician, the Word made flesh, is not at a distance. He is hands on! When Jesus stuck His fingers into that man’s ears, they were the fingers of God. When Jesus touched that man’s tongue, God was touching His tongue. Jesus also personally touches you - for what is Baptism but water and words from the mouth of God? In your Baptism Jesus says to you “Ephphatha,” that is, “be opened!”  It is an Aramaic word later used in the church’s baptismal liturgies to emphasize the Spirit’s power to open ears to the Gospel. Its meaning can also be stated, “Be released.”  He releases you from bondage to sin by washing away your sin! He releases you from bondage to the devil by clothing you with Himself! “Ephphatha!”  At His Table Jesus also takes you aside to personally touch you! The body of Christ is given to you in particular with the bread and the blood with the wine while you in particular are told that His body was given and His blood was shed for you. In this forgiving gift He says, “be released!”


On that day they said “He has done all things well.”  But the best of days were yet to come. They came when Jesus’ ears were filled with words of mockery – with cries of “crucify Him” - with Pilate’s words declaring Him innocent and yet handing Him over! God the Father took His own Son aside privately not to heal Him but to damn Him for the sins of our ears and our mouths and our hearts.  He took away His hearing and His speech and even His breathing. Yet at the death of this Lamb a mighty “Be opened” was shouted through heaven as the temple curtain was torn in two. On the morning of the third day another “Be opened!” was shouted as Pilate’s seal and the entrance stone and death itself were all brushed aside. The tongue of the living Christ was speaking again and today He continues speaking His words of total release into your ears – “Peace be with you!”


Unlike the day in our text – today Jesus does not charge you to tell no one. Remember the friends of the deaf man who brought Him to Jesus? Their actions are a template for our own concern for those who are deaf to the Gospel of Christ and whose tongues do not confess His name. As this man’s friends brought him where help was to be found, so we can invite others to receive Christ’s healing gifts. As this man’s friends begged Jesus to lay his hand on him, so Jesus invites us to beg the same as we pray “Thy kingdom come” for all others. We do so in the confidence that the Father hears us through the intercession of Jesus and that the tongue of Jesus continues to intercede for us perfectly in keeping with God’s will.


Beloved your physical hearing is not an accident of chance over millions of years. Your physical hearing is an awesome, intricate, wondrous gift of God’s creative care. Your hearing of the voice of Jesus is an even greater gift – the greatest miracle in you - through which Jesus continues to do all things well for you - Now – and forever! In His Name, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a