Pentecost 15B (Mk 7:31–37)

September 6, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS


Our Gospel text today is a very familiar one. A man who is both deaf and mute is no longer deaf and mute because Jesus opens his ears and loosens his tongue. It’s truly a great miracle, and the crowds rightly praise Jesus: “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.” This was a great physical miracle, and it’s a comfort to anyone whose body needs healing. Jesus is the great physician. But in this miracle we can also see a great spiritual meaning, and this spiritual meaning has to do with how people hear and speak in relation to God.

This is why Jesus has come. Our ears want to turn all sorts of ways. But there’s no room self-help advice in the church, no 10 steps to more blessed life. That’s not why Jesus came. Our ears must be open to what He has to say, on His terms. Our ears and mouths must receive His healing. We must be led and called to it, just like that man had to be brought to Jesus. But when it comes to Jesus and ears and tongues, He’s got it under control. He created them. He heals and saves them. It’s why He’s come.


(I. He goes out of His way to do it.)

Now, when JESUS COMES TO OPEN EARS AND TONGUES, He goes out of His way to do it. That’s what we find out in our text. “He returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.” This was no direct way to travel. Jesus did the ancient equivalent of flying from L.A. to Portland by going through Denver and the great planes. Jesus had been in Tyre to heal a demon-possessed little girl, and He took the round about way to preach and teach along the way to the Gentiles. But He had to go to the area by Ten Cities east of the Sea of Galilee. He went there to heal this man. He goes out of His way to open his ears and tongue.

This is how it is for you and me. Think about the round about way Jesus came to save us. He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of all, And His shelter was a stable, And His cradle was a stall; With the poor and mean and lowly Lived on earth our Savior holy. That’s what Christ has done for you. Could God have saved us by staying in heaven? If God had decided to it that way, He certainly could have, just as He could’ve healed this man while still in Tyre. But out of His great love for you He came to be one with us, one of us save and heal us. The one who created ears and tongues, took up ears and a tongue to save us. His ears heard the cries, “Crucify Him!” His tongue tasted the sour wine. And He opened His mouth and said, “It is finished!” That’s love, and His coming to save you means He saved everyone else along the way.

(II. He does it through unusual means.)

This brings us to our second point today. When JESUS COMES TO OPEN EARS AND TONGUES, He does it through unusual means. It really is an odd thing that Jesus does. He’s spoken and people were healed. His touch healed people, even raised the dead. But this miracle really takes the cake. “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.’” Jesus literally jams His fingers into the guy’s ears, He puts spit on his tongue, grunts and says, “Ephphatha.” It’s a strange ritual that Jesus performs, using His fingers, spit, and grunt. Strange means for such a great miracle.

But this is how the Lord likes to do things. We often times turn a deaf ear to the truth of God’s Word. The World has when it comes to God’s gifts of life and marriage, and we also turn our ears to things that hurt our faith, even if they may say “christian” on it. Our sinful ears must be opened, and Jesus true to form not only goes out of His way to do it but He does it some peculiar ways. His Word goes in our ears. His water splashes on our foreheads. He call us to open our mouths and receive His body and blood. This makes our ears, our mouths, makes our whole bodies holy and pure in His sight.

(III. Once opened, it’s as if they were never closed.)

Our final point is this: when JESUS COMES TO OPEN EARS AND TONGUES, it’s as if they were never closed. That’s the amazing thing about this miracle. The man’s “ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.” He spoke rightly. Before this man was tongue-tied, probably because he was deaf. But Jesus opened his ears and loosed his tongue so that this man spoke as if he’d heard and spoken his entire life. So it is with you and me. Once our ears are opened by God’s Word, once our ears have been made holy by that Word, once our mouths have been made holy by His body and blood—once that happens, God only hears us speaking right by the power of His Spirit living in us. We speak faithfully, rightly, we speak in an orthodox way. Proclaiming, praising, and thanking God and what He’s done for us in and through His Son Jesus.

It’s a simple and well-known lesson: the deaf-mute man healed by Jesus. JESUS COMES TO OPEN EARS AND TONGUES. He did it for this man. He does it for you and me. In His love He went out of His way to do it. He does it His way, through His means. Fingers, spit, grunting, Water, Word, Body and Blood.

At the beginning of our service we prayed, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.” Our ears have been opened by Christ’s Word. Now our mouths can confess Him and sing His praise in the Te Deum.


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