Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pentecost 15 - Proper 18

O Lord, let Your merciful ears be open to the prayers of Your humble servants and grant that what they ask may be in accord with Your gracious will;

In Galilee Jesus found Himself disputing with the Scribes and Pharisees. He leaves that region only to enter Tyre and Sidon from there we finding Him in the region of the ten cities. Wherever He goes, Jesus’ reputation precedes Him.

And they brought unto Him a man that was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. Instead of making a display of this unfortunate man, Jesus took him aside and dealt with him in private and in the man’s own language. This is how Jesus chooses to deal with you. He speaks to you according to your need and in a way in which you will understand. He comes to you exactly when you need Him. Through His Word He speaks to you and tells you exactly and precisely what you need to hear.

Mark reminds us, “He put His fingers into his ears and spit and touched his tongue, and looked up to heaven.”  It’s hard to miss our lord’s message, even for a deaf man. He says, “I understand your problem! You’ve got ears that don’t hear and a tongue that doesn’t work. I’m going to do something about it! I’m lifting up eyes to heaven ‘from whence cometh our help’.  That’s My Father’s home. But I’ve left it to enter the world of the dead and the blind and the dead in trespasses and sin!”

This is what makes Jesus our Lord and Savior. John reminds us, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1) Jesus entered our world to combat and defeat those forces, which held you captive; the devil, world, and your sinful self. He came to forgive and set you free of all these deadly forces.

Then comes the word, Ephphatha, which means “be open” and the rest is history. Or is it? The rest of the story is gospel! There is something similar about this word Ephphatha – be open and the statement
It is finished!” which Jesus will speak from the cross. There, on Calvary’s holy hill, Jesus’ very lifeblood cries out Ephphatha for you!  God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting our sin against us.

It is this proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament continues to speak to the deaf and mute in spirit to those who are found to be dead in their trespasses and sins. There lies the power of God to open ears to the good News of the kingdom and to loosen tongues into a glorious confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And as Jesus spoke that mighty word Ephphatha – be open back then, there is one mighty Ephphatha yet to be spoken. On the last great day, cleansed by your baptism in Jesus’ name, you will stand with a robe washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. On that great day, you shall hear the voice of you shepherd say, “By virtue of the merits of My blood-bought redemption, these have done all things will. Now, come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!

This is grace. We are called to proclaim it, to celebrate it each day and to believe it. Rejoice then this day, for in Christ, your sin has been forgiven and you shall stand with Him in glory, which shall last forever.

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