Summary: Jesus still opens the ears of the deaf, those who are hard of hearing when it comes to the Word of God!
Mark 7: 31-37 September 7, 1997
Rev. Charles Degner Pentecost 16
Mark 7:31-37 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. 33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
Today, we are beginning another fall of Christian education in our congregation. We have some exciting things to offer this fall! We have a staff of Sunday School teachers eager to teach, well trained and capable. They know that their purpose is not to entertain children for 40 minutes, but to teach them the stories of the Savior and their salvation. Every one of them takes this responsibility seriously!
This week we begin our catechism instruction for 7-9 grade in our congregation. Our classes are bulging at the seams, with almost 20 in the 8th grade and almost as many in seventh. My Old Adam cringes at all the extra work that will mean, but my New Man rejoices at the chance to teach so many children what the need to know to go to heaven! I can’t wait for the first class!
This week we also begin an exciting program for adult instruction. We’ve begun a two year course for adults to review the catechism instruction they had when they were confirmed. In this course you will review the promises God made to you in his Word - promises which cannot be broken because God does not lie. You will learn the same truths you learned as a child. Only the experiences you’ve had as an adult will make those truths even more alive and relevant. You will have questions you couldn’t ask, or were afraid to ask, when you were 14. God’s Word will answer them.
Are you excited to sit again at Jesus’ feet to listen to his Word? Parents, when you reminded your children last night that they would go to Sunday School today, did they jump for joy? Or did some of them frown and say, “Do we have to? Sunday School is BORING!” If you asked our spouse if he or she wanted to go to the adult catechism class, or to the Bible class, what was the response? Dead silence? Or a “I’ll think about it”? What response was there in YOUR heart?
I would like to think that everyone of us is eager to hear God’s Word at every opportunity we have. But that is not our not our natural response to the Word. The fact is that we were born deaf and as long as we have our old Adam we will always be hard of hearing when it comes to the Word. That is why our sermon theme today is a simple prayer to the Savior who can open the ears of the deaf.
Lord, Open My Ears!
1. we were born hard of hearing
Our story takes place in a predominantly Gentile area around the sea of Galilee. When I follow in the steps of Jesus’ ministry, it never ceases to amaze me how far Jesus would go and how hard he would work to save a few souls for the kingdom of God!
The Word says they brought to Jesus someone who could not hear and who could hardly speak. It sounds like he was born deaf so that his speech was affected by his hearing loss. He never learned to pronounce words correctly because he could never hear what they sounded like. To an ordinary physician, such a hearing loss is incurable. But we know nothing is impossible for Jesus.
Why do people have to bear such burdens in this life? We know it is because of the consequences of Adam’s fall and sin entering this world. This is why this story is told us. Our God sent Jesus to undo the consequences of sin - whether it be loss hearing or speech or sight or walking, or sickness and trouble and death. Sometimes Jesus cures our weaknesses in this life. Sometimes he gives us the strength to bear the burden. But we know and believe that in the resurrection, all will be made whole again.