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No doubt you recall the Christmas song which begins; "Do you hear what

I hear?" That song describes the delightful sounds of Christmas. It's

true. We're surrounded by all kinds of sounds; sounds that are a delight.

That's true, of course, unless you can't hear. If you can't hear there's

nothing.

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Such is the case in today's Gospel. Here is a man who can't hear; a

man who is deaf. And besides being deaf, this fellow also has a problem

speaking. That's how it is. If you can't hear what you are saying you

won't know how to speak correctly. Hearing and speech go together.

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And what do we find? We find Jesus acting with compassion - with the

compassion only He is capable of. In mere moments this man's problems are

solved. Quickly his ears are opened and his tongue becomes capable of

proper speech.

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How do we react to this story? Only the coldest heart is not warmed by

this. Only the most dour of people would not smile in quiet thanks for

this miracle. For years this poor man had been hindered in every aspect

of life and now all of that is over. Now he can hear. Now he can speak.

Now life can become what it never had been before. Now everything is

changed; everything is as it should be.

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But if we see this as simply one more miracle of Jesus in which He

helps people in their physical needs we will have missed a great deal.

There is no denying that this miracle is profound. There is no denying

that this man is helped incredibly and the crowds are properly impressed.

But what about us? We're 2000 years removed from this event. What do we

find here that is relevant for us? If this is only about the compassion

of Jesus in the face of physical necessity, how many proofs do we need?

After all, how many sick people need to be healed, how many dead people

need to be raised back to life, how many deaf ears need to be opened

before we get the point? If this is only about Jesus' healing physical

problems what's special about this miracle?

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As I have mentioned many times, you and I are also in this text. You

are in this picture. In some way you are the man who is healed. It is as

you understand your place here that the full meaning of this miracle

becomes apparent. And when it does you will see a new miracle. You will

see yourselves as the recipients of Jesus' healing touch.

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We think of deafness as a physical thing, and it certainly is. But

what about spiritual deafness? What about not hearing God; not

understanding God? Well, that's our natural condition. That's how man is

before he is converted. Man is born deaf to God. He cannot hear God. He

can't understand God. And as a result he can not speak of God; he can not

confess God.

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Oh, he may think he can. He may actually consider himself quite

religious - even a Christian. But he isn't. You see, man's fall into sin

caused his ears to become closed and that deafness has been passed on,

generation after generation, to us. Deafness toward God inflicts everyone

who is born. And that's how things remain unless God intervenes; unless

God acts to open your ears to His Word. Left to yourselves you would go

through life and into death with ears that can not hear as they should.

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Our problem lies at precisely this point. Because sinful man cannot

hear God, he is unable to speak the truth. He is unable to speak the

truth either to God or about God. Oh, he may say "spiritual" things; he

may use "religious" words. He may speak about the here after, or about

how God watches over things, or how he feels God's presence around him.

But like a deaf man he is simply parroting sounds. He cannot speak from

what he knows - what he has heard - because he cannot hear God.

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If you think I'm wrong just listen sometime to what people say after a

funeral. The sermon may have spoken clearly of the need for repentance

and forgiveness of sins but the conversations in the basement usually

don't. Over coffee people will be speaking of other things. Naturally

they'll talk about the person who died. But very often they will try to

comfort each other with statements like this; "He was such a good person,

heaven will be brighter because of him," or "God has a new star in heaven

now," or "Now he's watching over us and helping us." Such talk comes from

ignorance. Such talk flows from deaf ears and out of empty mouths. Not

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