Summary: Baptism--the deaf hear, the mute speak, God sighs and the dead become "living soul"
“ ‘Ephphatha… Be Opened’ ”
the Sunday Sermon preached at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church—UAC
6843W 400N Kokomo, Indiana 46901
for the 12th Sunday after Trinity; August 18, 2002
by the Rev. Frederick E. Davison, Pastor
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Grace, Mercy, and Peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.
The sermon for the Twelfth Sunday after Holy Trinity speaks from the Holy Gospel appointed, the Holy Gospel according to St Mark chapter 7th, with particular focus on these words:
“ ‘…He spit… and said. ‘Ephphatha, that is, ‘Be opened.’…’ ”
Thus far our text; please be seated…
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. [Amen.]
“*in that day* shall the deaf hear the words of the book…” “*in that day*… the eyes of the blind shall see…” “*in that day*… The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord…” “*in that day*… the poor… shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel…” And *that day* is—in our Gospel—*this day.* And *that day* is—by the Gospel—*this day* “*Today!*”
Indeed, “Today is the day of salvation!” Because on *this day* like on *that day* of our Gospel, Jesus, who created the heaven and the earth and all that is in them, Jesus, proves Himself to be “God… Almighty” “maker of heaven and earth” who with Father and Holy Ghost art One God, One and the Same. And not a God who is far off—really absent—confined in His Body to the Right Hand of Heaven—but the One True God who in His Flesh and Blood, Jesus, *by* His Flesh and Blood, Jesus, makes the “eyes of the blind to see,” “the meek… [to] increase their joy in the Lord…” and the “poor among men… [to] rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
So let us rejoice. Let us celebrate! For indeed, the “Holy One” has become on of us—yes, [in crass terms—like Joan Osborne said it] “a slob like one of us.” But quite unlike us, *He* could *do* something! Now what do I mean? What am I telling you?
How fortunate for us that *this* Gospel is appointed for our preaching today. For *today* Salvation has come to *this* household. And *today* Jesus speaks, “‘Ephphatha, that is, ‘Be opened.’” In our Gospel, Jesus “looking up to heaven… sighed…” Picture Him for a moment standing there. Why would the Holy Ghost bother telling us that Jesus sighed? What happens when you sigh? Do it. [sigh] What happens? Breath comes out of your mouth. And what happens when Breath comes out of God’s mouth?
The first time we’re told in the Bible about “God’s Breath” is what you children will be studying in the next couple of weeks: when God “breathed” life into Adam. And Adam came alive. When before—though he looked like a man, he was dead—without life. God built Adam from the ground up and yet without His Breath, Adam was not complete. So on the Sixth day, “God breathed” and Adam became “a living soul.”
You might be at this point wondering, “I thought you were preaching on St. Mark? What does Adam have to do with this man who cannot hear, this man who cannot speak? And what do wither of those things have to do with us—and this little girl Carly Jo?”
This little girl—cute as button—no different than Ryan and Rebecca’s newborn; just like little Joseph who we baptized a few weeks ago—all of them cute as could be, but the Word of God speaks of them the same way it speaks of you and me. Though at birth we look like we’re alive—we scream to be coddled, cuddled and swaddled.
Certificate says we were born alive, we are living. Just like when God was done building Adam, these little ones look human, complete—ten fingers, ten toes, cutest little lips, sparkling eyes. Yet toward God, born dead. But what’s that look like?
Imagine a rock—that baptismal font is hewn out of a rock. Ask it a question. Can it speak? What worse, go up to it after the Service. Can it even hear you ask? If Alden or Hunter were to go up and try to talk to it, wouldn’t you think them a little strange? The rock from which that baptismal font is no different than you or me—no different than was Joseph, or Carly, or the little one in the back [as yet I know not his name.] Born dead. “In sin did my mother conceive me.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” You might say, “Man is born free! Free to choose! Free to seek God! Free to be all he wants to be!” That’s a popular notion among men. The Jews thought so too! Joshua told them, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” They answered, “We will serve the Lord!” And Joshua answered, “Ye cannot…” They thought they could choose to worship God also. But they could not. Neither could you—neither could any one of these little ones. They cannot seek Him. They could not ask Him anything, anymore than they could hear Him say anything. They are born dead. Born in sin. Just like you.