Trinity 12 (Mk 7, 31–37; 2 Cor 3, 4–11)

Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

᛭ INI ᛭

Today, Paul says, “We have such confidence through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to think that anything as being from us, but our sufficiency is from God.”

Now, what does that look like? Well, first, I’ve got to say that the “confidence” Paul talks about here is just a synonym with “hope,” as the next verse after our reading makes clear. (2 Cor 13:12) And “hope” is also a close synonym with “faith.” “Hope,” like faith, “expects promised things, {so} hope and faith cannot be separated in reality.” (AP IV, 191) Yet, “the object of hope is properly a future event, but faith is concerned with future and present things. Faith receives the forgiveness of sins offered in the promise in the present.” (AP IV, 191) Faith confesses that “our sufficiency comes from God.”

So, what does that all look like? What does that confidence, that sufficiency, that hope, that faith look like? Well, that’s what our Gospel reading is all about! What does “confidence through Christ,” what does “sufficiency from God,” what does “hope,” what does “faith” look like? It looks like Jesus healing that deaf-mute man. Or put another way:

FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR AND A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS.

((I. There’s no faith apart from Jesus working.))

Now, before we get to that, we’ve got to back up a bit first. We’ve got to look at things before Jesus showed up. You see, when Jesus showed up the man couldn’t hear, couldn’t talk. Not even a bit. There was no hearing, no speaking before Jesus got there. The guy was deaf. The guy was mute, couldn’t talk. His ears didn’t work. His mouth didn’t work. Well, not for talking anyway.

I know that was repetitive, but we’ve got to get it engrained in us. The deaf-mute man was helpless. Apart from Jesus doing something about it, the man never would’ve been able to hear. Left to himself he was mute, he never would’ve been able to say anything at all.

His physical problem is a picture of our spiritual problem. Nothing comes from us when it comes to our relationship with God. Who we are in ourselves as human beings is at odds with God. We’re conceived and born spiritually deaf, spiritually mute. Nothing comes from us except deafness, muteness. Human beings contribute “sin and resistance” to our salvation, as Luther famously quipped.

There’s no faith in Jesus without Jesus doing something. When Jesus shows up, what does He find? A deaf-mute man. When He’s done, the man hears and talks. Same with human beings, spiritually speaking. Apart from Jesus doing something, “Dead in trespasses and sins,” as Paul says.

So, Jesus acts through His Word. “Ephphatha, be opened.” And the ears and tongue are opened! The man had ears that hear, and a mouth that spoke. So also you and me. Our ears are made to hear through Jesus’ Word, and they then in turn speak His Word. That’s faith. Hearing and speaking.

FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR AND A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS.

((II. Faith is ears that hear.))

Now, FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR. What do I mean by that? Well, like I said before, “faith” is “confidence” or “trust.” And this “faith” or “confidence” or “trust” is in someone or something. That’s how Paul talks in 2 Corinthians: “We have such confidence through Christ toward God.” “Confidence…toward God,” “faith toward God.”

Our faith is rooted in what Jesus has done for us. That deaf-mute man had faith in Jesus because Jesus made him hear and speak! We trust Jesus because of what He did “for us and our salvation.” That He was “crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, he suffered and was buried, and the third day He rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures.”

We have faith in what Jesus has done for us because He opened our ears to hear. Our ears hear His Word, listen to His Word, that is, we hear and believe what He says. “My sheep listen to My voice,” Jesus says. Where do they hear His voice? Through “the ministers of the New Testament” that Paul talks about, for Himself Jesus says about His ministers, “He who hears you hears Me.”

FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR: “I baptize you.” (There ears are first opened. Ancient baptism rites included these words, ‘Ephphatha, be opened.’) FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR: “By His authority, I forgive you all your sins.” FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR: “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching (sermons) and His Word.” (SC) FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR: “This is My body, this is My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” “These words along with the bodily eating and drinking are the main thing in the Sacrament.” (SC)

((III. Faith is a mouth that speaks.))

Now, FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR all those things, but FAITH is also A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS. FAITH hears all those things, hears everything that Jesus did at Calvary to save you, hears everything He’s doing now in His Word and Gifts to save you, and faith says, “Yes. Amen. Jesus did that for me and does this for me.” FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR AND A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS.

Our faith in Jesus and in His Word also affects how we talk! And so faith is not some sort of good feeling or just an idea or stuff you know or what ever other squishy and non-concrete ways we like to talk about faith.

Faith is trust, and that means faith is always in someone or something. And this true understanding of faith, that it’s trust, means something for how we talk. So we don’t accept it when anyone says, “I have faith” because they’re really saying, “I have trust.” Okay? Faith in what? Trust in what? Faith in whom?

“To have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with the heart. …the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust is right, then your god is also true. On the other hand, if your trust is false and wrong, then you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God [Hebrews 11:6]. …whatever you set your heart on and put your trust in is truly your god.” (LC I, 2–3)

How can you tell if that faith is true? “Faith without works is dead,” James says. Not just Commandments 4 through 10, how we treat the people in our daily lives. (Though that’s 100% true.) It’s also 3rd Commandment stuff, too. FAITH hears, it doesn’t “despise preaching and His Word,” as the explanation of the 3rd Commandment has it. And so, what does FAITH hear, listen to? Jesus in all the ways I said before.

Now that there’s hearing, what sort of talking happens? FAITH IS MOUTH THAT SPEAKS: “Amen.” Like I said before. FAITH IS A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS: “He has done all things well!” FAITH IS A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS: “He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” FAITH IS A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS: Jesus died and came back to life FOR YOU.

FAITH speaks within our various vocations. There are preachers. “Ministers of the new covenant.” But also all Christians! How could be any other way! “The more they preached!” (The people Jesus saved.) As Mark 7 tells us.

((Conclusion.))

FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR AND A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS.

Apart from Jesus working, there is no faith, no hearing and talking. Just like in Mark 7.

Once Jesus does His thing, speaks His Word, well, then the ears are hearing. “Ephphatha,” “be opened.” “I baptize you.” “I forgive you.” “Preaching and His Word.” (SC) “My body and blood for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” FAITH IS EARS THAT HEAR.

After Jesus does His thing, FAITH IS A MOUTH THAT SPEAKS. “He has done all things well! He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” For you and for all.

᛭ INI ᛭

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