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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sermon 08262012 12th Sunday After Trinity

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray, Gracious heavenly Father, our earth is full of turmoil and suffering, where brother fights against brother and sin that entered in the world through Adam and Eve in the Garden dashes us against the rocks of reality.  Our lives are sometimes shattered and splintered.  But through the promise of Your Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, He came down from heaven and walked among Your chosen people and took away the sin, the sickness and the separation from You.  Heavenly Father, we ask You to reach down to us today and comfort all of us with the salve of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Give us the patience of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon in order that Your Glory may be revealed and we imperfect creatures may be made perfect by and through the promise of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

As Pastor one of the opportunities I have comes in the form and shape of teaching.  Yes, in our worship services I try to help everyone understand, deepen and enrich our Christian faith and I have had over the summer the opportunity to teach and lead a bible study class up at Wheat Ridge Acres.  The residents there are thirsty and come to the well and fount of knowledge found in Holy Scripture to have their thirst quenched.  Recently we began a study of the Old Testament characters and how God reached down into their lives as recorded in Holy Scripture and in some cases allowed them to experience and have all their world radically changed.  These characters include Noah, Abraham, Samson, Samuel, Elijah, David and Daniel.  One of the characters not included in the list is Job.

Job, is best known for being a rich man with lots of animals, family and possessions.  And God allows the devil to take all of his possessions, livestock and children from him in order to test him.  The devil believes Job will speak against God and using every tool in his arsenal and every evil twist, the devil is trying to push Job to where he would question or deny God.  Even Job’s friends claim it is better to curse God and try to convince Job to do just that.

But Job, with the faith and patience that is beyond measure remains firmly planted and proclaiming that God would not do this and gives God Glory, Honor and pays Him homage.  Just as Job who was inflicted in such a harsh way continued to proclaim the glory of God in our Gospel this morning we have another example for us today of God in Jesus Christ clearly encountering sin and clearly offering the remedy of the Gospel.
Jesus who in the last chapter of Mark 6 had fed the five thousand, walked on the water, healed the people brought to Him, now in chapter 7 began to teach them.  Jesus instruction was about the traditions of the Jewish people, how evil proceeds from the heart of man and ultimately healed a woman’s daughter because of her faith.  Now Jesus has brought to Him “one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty”.  Today we probably know someone like this man, who can’t hear and speaks very unclearly.  What is obvious is that this man was not seen by the people as normal, nor could he fully function within society.  The people having possibly seen and definitely heard of Jesus ability to heal, brought the man to Jesus.  The crowd “entreated Him [that is Jesus] to lay His hand upon him”.  Notice, they are not asking for Jesus to perform some Herculean task, but simply to extend His Holy Hand and let it touch the man.

The previous story of the woman’s daughter being healed, didn’t even include Jesus touching the little girl.  It only tells of Jesus conversation with her mother.  But in our Gospel the crowd believed Jesus needed to touch this man.  Some would believe that if Jesus didn’t touch the man, if the man were healed the question would arise, well, did Jesus actually perform the miracle or did the man just spontaneously ‘get better’.  Thus knowing the doubt in their hearts, “Jesus took him aside from the crowd, by himself”. Clearly, Jesus didn’t want this to be seen by everyone and didn’t want it well known what He was about to do.  Unlike our wanting to do something in secret for nefarious reasons, Jesus was trying to perform this miracle to heal the man, preserve the man and show that He, that is Jesus, heard the people’s cry for help.

When alone, Jesus “put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva.”  Unlike the woman whose child was freed from her sickness, Jesus reached out and physically touched the man.  It wasn’t a simple touch, Jesus Second person of the Trinity, God incarnate, Who had personal action in creating the world, put His fingers in the mans ears, spit and touched the saliva to the mans tongue.  Now if you are like me, with the fear of disease that we have today and the fear of what we can get when someone coughs, when we shake hands or when we visit the nursing home or hospital, this man evidently had no fear.  This man trusted Jesus implicitly that He would help him.  And Jesus “looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!

The deep sigh that Jesus did while looking up to heaven, was the deepest expression of sorrow.  It wasn’t just an expression, it was Jesus, Son of God, God made flesh feeling deep sorrow over the original sin in this man’s life and how it had become manifest for him in his deafness and inability to speak.   Though Jesus had not caused his condition, Jesus felt great compassion and grief for him.  Hence, Jesus commanded in the same way the Father, Son and Holy Spirit did in creation of the day and night, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!”  The impediment of speech and the deafness of the ears were commanded by God’s perfect and sinless Son to be removed by the word, “Ephphatha” that is, “Be opened!”.

Mark continues, “And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tonue was removed and he began speaking plainly.”  Still alone with the man, you can imagine, immediately the man who had been deaf and speaking with an impediment was utterly amazed and probably began to yell at the top of his lungs and clearly proclaim the greatness of Jesus Christ Who had just healed him.  But Mark says “And He [that is Jesus] gave them orders not to tell anyone”.  Jesus didn’t want this out.  He didn’t want other people to know what He had done.  Was it because He would be swamped?  Or was it because of fear that the Pharisee’s, Publicans and Sadducees would hunt him down, because Jesus goal was the salvation of the people’s souls?

It is clear, the man wanted to let others hear what Jesus had done, but Jesus didn’t want it to get out there.  For it is clear Mark writes, “but the more He [that is Jesus] ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it.”  This man’s friends had been told and all of them wanted to tell everyone.  This was a miracle.  For “they were utterly astonished, saying “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”  Jesus clearly demonstrated that as God’s only Son, He had the power and authority to heal the sick and correct the original sin that was made manifest in this man’s loss of hearing and speaking with an impediment.

But what does that have to do with us today?  This story is important for three reasons.  First, when we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  AMEN”, we can be certain as shown in this miracle that God hears us and our prayers and listens to us.  In visiting one of the members at Good Sam recently they clearly stated that they continue to pray and God does hear their prayer.  With a faith like Job in God, it is clear that God listens to us and answers our prayers daily.

Second, God through the creation of the World that we remember in the Apostle’s Creed preserves us daily.  Just as God spoke and made day and night, Jesus Christ from our Gospel spoke to this man and clearly as the explanation of the First Article says, “still takes care of them.”  Though sin ravages our lives today, God reaches down into our lives and offers us the Gospel message to preserve us until we enter into His Kingdom.  No matter what happens to our earthly bodies, God is looking out for our eternal entrance into His Kingdom.

And finally God makes us a promise that is extremely clear.  In the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer that we pray saying, “Give us this our daily bread” it includes our health.  Not only did this man receive restoration clearly manifest by Jesus Christ putting His fingers in his ears and spit on his tongue, but Jesus made him normal to societies standard.  You might ask, why doesn’t this happen today?  I believe it does, but we are less likely to believe it if we cannot ‘rationally explain it.’  But the promise is clear, God will restore us to our perfect and sinless condition when we enter our eternal glory.  As Paul says, our perishable will put on the imperishable and mortal will put on immortality.  We will be new creatures with new bodies and no longer will sin exist in our lives.

For God offers this to us, because of His great love for us.  So much does God love us, that Jesus Christ came into this world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  It wasn’t for only a select few, the Gospel is for all of mankind, including Job, the man whose ears and mouth were opened and for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

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