Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Sunday of the Deaf Mute

In today’s Gospel our Lord does another a miracle. Some people bring a deaf man with a speech impediment to Jesus. Jesus takes him aside from the crowd privately and plunges his fingers into the man’s ears. Jesus spits, grabs the man’s tongue and looks up to heaven praying to God. Jesus groans and says “ephphatha,” which is an Aramaic word meaning “be opened.” The man’s ears are opened. His tongue is released and now he speaks plainly, which is to say, He confesses Christ.

Perhaps the man had some sort of turrets syndrome and couldn’t control his speech. Maybe he yelled and screamed incoherent things with no meaning and drove his family and friends nuts. So they bring him to Jesus. There is always a link between hearing and speaking. It’s difficult to speak plainly if you’re your unable to hear. And for those who struggle with either of these things, I have heard it’s one of the most frustrating and unpleasant of burdens one can bear. Because when your stuck with only your own thoughts your stuck also with your own sins.

I can tell you that young men especially are challenged here. One or two generations of men now have been raised on video games and computers. Few play musical instruments; they are too ashamed to sing. They are unacquainted with poetry, Shakespeare, or the corpus of western literature. They have forgotten that they belong to humanities story found in the Bible.

Their ears drums work but they are deaf to any harmony and beauty of God’s law. Their mouths are filled with coarse talk but their tongues are tied when it comes to expressing the content of their souls. They can’t express themselves. They have no words for their agony, for their joys, for their greatest hopes and dreams. No wonder so many men are frustrated and angry. They act out and who can blame them?

But the truth is we all struggle. Ever since Adam and Eve stuffed up their ears to the voice of God we’ve all been hearing impaired and as a result, like the troubled man in our Gospel text we are tongue tied as well. Man is made to live in communion and conversation with God, and yet for all the flapping we do with our tongues, how slow we are to pray and sing to God. How slow and tongue tied we can be when it comes to opening our mouths and talking to God, especially when it comes to confessing our sins.  

While our tongues should be employed for praising God and building one another up in love, we use our tongues so often to tear people down.

Martin Luther said a church is a mouth house. A place where God speaks and we listen. The Scriptures say faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.

And so we come here because in this place God opens up our ears. He baptizes. He teaches. He says those who are well have no need of a physician but only those who are ill. He prays for us. He unplugs ears, he opens mouths. He says take eat this is my body, take drink this is my blood.

The man in today’s Gospel text was deaf, dumb, and blind to God but a miracle happened. He heard the word of God. He believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and was therefore saved by the Gospel.

Jesus is not afraid to get his hands dirty with you either. He is not deaf to your pleas for mercy and help. His tongue is not tied when it comes to his love for you. He plunges his fingers into your ears and he opens them up to hear the sweetest message which can be heard on this side of heaven. The message that He has made payment for your sins with his holy and precious blood and by his innocent suffering and death. The message that He descended to hell to shut the devil’s mouth. The message that he rose for your justification. All so that you can hear the most beautiful words which can fill your hearts with joy. The words that your sins are forgiven - that your life is worth living - that you are redeemed, prized, and loved by God.

So rejoice and be glad. Open your ears to the words of absolution. Speak plainly that Jesus is Lord. Be as happy as a lark. Sing like a bird. Your sins are forgiven. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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