11. September 2011
Jesus’ healing miracles are the some of the hardest lessons to hear. We hear of Jesus making the lame walk and our mom is stuck in a wheelchair. We hear Jesus healing the leper and our neighbor’s skin cancer keeps coming back. We hear Jesus make the mute speak and our grandpa can’t even speak our name. We hear Jesus cast out the demon legions and we still struggle with our inner demons, besetting us in sin.
They’re hard for us to hear because what we want and what Jesus aims to give are two different things. We want to walk so we can go do our own things. We want to be free of cancer so we can live a little longer. We want to speak so we can enjoy earthly pleasures for a little while longer. We want to be free of our demons so we can go after more pleasant idols.
Jesus’ healing has a greater aim in mind. Healing is never an end in itself. Even poor Lazarus, whose stinking body was resurrected after four days, died. Healing miracles are a stop-gap solution. They fix temporary problems but don’t do much for the permanent. No matter how healthy, wealthy, and happy we are, the greatest evil of death still stares us in the face.
Jesus is the Word that spoke into the abyss and created all the was and is. Jesus keeps speaking and creatures keep living. Except we creatures keep making a muck of it. We don’t like the way he created us. We don’t want to believe it came from him. We don’t think his instruction for daily life is good.
Everything we suffer, whether in body or soul, is a result of our ongoing hatred of God and His Will. God’s blessed us with bodies to the benefit of the neighbor and we think this gift is for self-gratification. Everything we have for this body and life comes from our heavenly Father and we’d rather believe it came from our own blood, sweat, and tears. Our God gave us Ten Commandments to reveal his perfect will and we think them better for courthouses than for the doors of our heart.
Even seeing our problem, whether it be sickness, mental illness, and even impending death, we forget about Jesus. We too easily put our trust in the princes of medicine, of psychotherapy, and the ICU. The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry or as the Psalmist puts it “when his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish” (Ps. 146:4).
Where is there hope when our flesh withers and decays? Where is there hope when our children suffer from disease? Where is there hope when our elderly lose their minds? “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:5). Our sufficiency is from God.
Not everyone has forgotten Jesus. Not everyone has lost sight of the Lord. Some “brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged Him to lay His hand on him.” Some knew that Jesus could do what only the Creator could do. No one could take corrupted flesh and make it whole again but the Word of God.
“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.”
The Word of God is what’s all about. This man couldn’t hear the Word. Jesus heals him to hear. This man couldn’t confess the LORD’s name. Jesus looses his tongue to speak. The man, lost in the abyss of his unbelieving flesh, hears, believes, and speaks. Such is the power of the Word of God.
There are two important lessons I hope you will learn from this Gospel. First, the Word is our confidence and our sufficiency. That is to say, that without the Word from God, there is little point to our faith or life. Without the Word made flesh, Jesus, there is no hope. When we stand before the judgment seat, there is nothing in our life and its many plans that will have given us true righteousness. There is nothing of hope in this body of death.
But there is Jesus. We have our savior, our righteousness, our blood-bought forgiveness in Christ. There is hope in his flesh. There is confidence in his righteousness. There is sufficiency in his all-atoning sacrifice.
Second, the Word is necessary. Without Christ coming to us and saying “Ephphatha,” our ears remained stopped up from hearing the Word. Without his flesh touching our lips, we remain tongue-tied and twisted, unable to confess His holy name and all that he has done for us.
This is why I have and continue to encourage you to attend to study of the Scriptures. Each week I prepare for you a prayer guide for use in your homes. We offer Bible class each Saturday and Sunday. There are additional classes throughout the week. And like those who brought the deaf-mute man, I encourage you to bring friends. Receive and be blessed.
Jesus is not some idle creator. Every little healing is an act of recreation, whether recorded in the Gospels or happening to us every day. Every healing is reminder of what’s to come. The Son of God was begotten of Mary so that we would be begotten again of the heavenly Father. Any healing points to the greater healing to come. The ministry of death is being brought to an end. Its glory is but a pale shadow to the glory of the permanent, the ministry of righteousness.
“And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’”
May it be so among us also. May his great and wonderful deeds inspire us to boldy confess “He has done all things well!”
In Name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
Grace Lutheran Church