, Sermon for 12th Sunday after Trinity,4 September 2022 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
” 31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. (Mark 7:31-37)
Jesus has been traveling a long and dusty trail from Sidon and Tyre along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. He crosses over Jordan to the coast of Decapolis and the Sea of Galilee. The Gospel of St Matthew describes the same scene in a parallel account.
“29And Jesus departed from thence, and came nigh unto the Sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. 30 And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them: 31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel.” (Matt 15:29-31)
Amazingly, the observers recognized the power of God working THROUH Jesus, but did not recognize that power IN and OF Jesus. “And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people. (Luke 7:16) They accepted the prophetic character of Christ but not His Divinity.
“And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.” It is natural that one who was deaf would also suffer from a speech impediment. One physical defect often leads to another. Sin is like that, too.
The adultery of David and Bathsheba led to the even more serious sin of MURDER.
This young man had done no sin to warrant such an affliction. The actions of Christ in His compassion to heal him prove two points:
1)That it was NOT the will of God that this young man should be afflicted and
2) it WAS the will of God that he should be cured.
“….and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.” It is interesting that the disciples presume to suggest HOW Jesus should heal this man. They asked Jesus to put His hands upon him.
Apparently, they believed the healing of Christ to be more the FORM than the PERSON of Christ. But Christ will heal according to His will and not our own.
“And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue” Jesus led the man apart from the multitude to heal Him. We do not know why He did so, but we do not NEED to know why. The more important point is that He DID heal the man in His own way and not in the way we would expect.
Even to bring us to Himself, God must separate us from the greater multitudes for we are prone, in the face of common superstitions and lack of courage, to continue in the mind of the multitude instead of in the Mind of Christ.
How beautiful the day that Christ took our hand and led us apart from the doubting multitudes and opened our eyes, our ears, and our mouths to praise Him.
Bible scholars often attempt to explain away the mystery of God when such mystery is not revealed in Scripture.
Jesus has done likewise in other settings: “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town. (Mark 8:22-23)
If we are confined in hospital after a serious illness and remain unconscious for a time, we do not wake up healed completely and ask HOW we were healed. We simply rejoice in the absence of pain and hurt.
“……..and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.”
Just as in is our most serious affliction spiritually, Christ most often forgives the sin before healing the body. Jesus always addresses the most serious affliction first.
(put his fingers into his ears) Since the man’s speech impediment resulted from His being deaf, Christ heals his ears first.
(and he spit, and touched his tongue) He next addresses the speech impediment. The very Fountain from which the Word has it effulgence is the mouth of Christ. From that Fountain comes healing, so He spat upon His finger and touched the man’s disabled tongue.
(And looking up to heaven) from whence cometh my help…Christ is the Power of God, and He and the Father are One. He will do no thing without the Will and Consent of the Father, so He looks to heaven – as we should do as well in time of need. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19)
When we look upon the world around us, strewn with the dirt and filth of man and cities of gloom and want, what a contrast when, on a clear night, we look up into the pristine heavens and observe Creation untouched by the hands of man, we are humbled by our lack of merit and power. The stars, all conforming to the Law of God’s Nature, shining brilliantly in the very places God put them in the beginning. Heaven is where we look for God and His Counsel.
Ephphrata! (Be opened, in the Chaldaic). Just as the dead eyes of Lazarus immediately opened at the voice of Christ, so the ears of this man were subject to the power of God to obey and be opened.
“And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.” Though this miracle is great, it is greater than might first appear. When a deaf person suffers from speech impediments due to deafness, they must be taught how to speak if that deafness is removed. But this man spoke immediately and clearly. God does not do shoddy work. His works are perfect in every detail.
“And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it” What possibility exist that a man who could not hear or speak will keep silence about such ills being healed by a loving God? The more Christ counseled them to tell no one, the greater they praised Him in shouting it to the world.
Have you held your peace after having Christ heal and forgive you when you were called by His Voice? How could you? But, sadly, many do not speak of Him though they owe their beings to Him.
“And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” If your ears have been opened to the glory of Christ, how could you restrain your tongue from praising Him everywhere?
The people proclaimed: “He hath done all things well” This is an echo from the Beginning of Genesis. All that God created and made, He saw that it was very Good. He does ALL things well.
Have you heard the Voice of Christ in the Gospels? Having heard, has the string of your tongue been loosed to proclaim His glory to all you know? Or are you a closet Christian and a secret child of God the Father?