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August 27, 2023

He Heals with One Word

Preacher:
Passage: Mark 7:31-37

What’s the magic word? You can’t enter this secret club unless
you have the magic word. You can’t have cake and ice cream
unless you say the magic word. Perhaps you’ve heard these
conditions said to you as a child? Being a child was a simple
time. It was a time where you could in most cases say one word
to get what you wanted, such as “please” to get dessert or “open
sesame” to be let into your friend’s secret club. If only it were
that easy today. If only you could say one word to fix
everything. If only you could look at your bills and say, “paid”
and it is done. If only you could look at the house and say,
“clean” and it is done. If only you could look at the crop and
say, “harvest” and it is done. If only one word could fix
everything…alas, in our lives, that is not how things work. You
have to work and work well to get things done in this earth. This
world requires toilsome and painful work. It did since the fall
into sin. Adam couldn’t say to the fields,
“yield” and it be done.
He had to work the land, perhaps injuring and blistering himself
in the heat and thorns. And after a long day at this, he had to
come back home to lead a household, and a broken one at that
with a murderous Cain and dead Abel. And Eve, the one who
toiled in pain to bear these children into the world only to watch
them fight and bicker and in the end have one become a fugitive
and the other having his blood crying out to God in death. If
only one word could cure this! And as Adam and Eve looked on
their new son Seth, they perhaps remembered what God said to
them after the fall into sin, that there would be one who would
come who could get things done and done well with one word.
This one would be their Savior! He would say to the deaf
“Ephatha” be opened, and it would be done and done well. He
would say to the young, dead girl, “arise,
” and she would. He
would say to Lazarus, who had been in the grave three days,
“come forth,
” and he would. He would say one word on the
cross of calvary, “Tetelesthai” which is Greek for, “It is
finished.” And thus, with one word would heal our greatest ill:
sin. Jesus did it. He proclaimed it. With a word He heals, not
only the symptoms of your sinfulness, but the root, sin itself, by
Himself. Therefore, with a word He heals. With a Word He does
all things well.
(We Pray…)
Let’s now dwell on this One Word Healer, Jesus Christ and His
journey through Palestine. Jesus had just come from the region
of Tyre and Sidon after having just healed a Gentile woman’s
daughter of demon possession. Now He returns to the region of
the Decapolis, which was a region of ten cities with a primarily
Greek population. The Decapolis didn’t have much acquaintance
with Jesus and His miracles except for the healing of the
demoniac, a man with a thousand or more demons inside Him.
There it was that Jesus cast out the legion from the man into the
herd of swine. The people would have remembered this for that
was a huge financial loss for them because all their herd were
led by the demons off a cliff to their demise. They also perhaps
remember this miracle because there was no longer a
supernaturally powered man wailing and screaming and
breaking chains.
Regardless of this controversial episode among the people, a
crowd of people in the Decapolis Saw Jesus, the One who spoke
very little words to drive out the hordes of hell from a man. This
group of Gentiles was obviously aware of Jesus’ power to heal.
So then, considering the cases of Jesus’ healings, they brought
their case before Jesus. These people, having compassion for
their friend and or relative, and having limited knowledge that
Jesus had the power to heal, took the opportunity. They
presented to Jesus a deaf-mute man. The deaf mute man could
not hear at all. On top of that, He couldn’t speak clearly. He
wasn’t completely mute, but perhaps after being deaf for so
long, this in turn impacted his speech. Hearing nothing, with a
tongue stiff as a brick, this man had a rough life. If only there
was one word that could fix his ailments!
To picture his ailments, imagine being deaf yourself and not
being able to communicate clearly by speaking. You grunt,
moan, and make guttural noises only to have your neighbors and
family guess at what you are trying to communicate. And,
because of deafness, you need blatant gestures to show you what
to do or what is being communicated. This account happened
well before ASL, and this was a poor region too where it was
doubtful that the people had sign language of any kind, and if
they did, it wasn’t taught to the poor. It was a fend for yourself
sort of place. By God’s grace was this man still alive and that he
could still see. He would be able to see what was about to
happen. But oh, how the devil afflicts mankind with such
horrendous ailments. In Jesus’ day, Satan sent a myriad of
demons into one man. He sent another into a poor girl. And here
he took a man’s communication system away, leaving him with
no way to hear or speak. This meant no way to hear the Word of
God, and no way to confess it. And though the man could still
see, books were also extremely hard to find, and those on the
Old Testament Scriptures were on the other side of the sea of
Galilee, the Jewish side. And on top of that, had he ever been
taught to read, let alone Aramaic? This man seemed doomed
from the start. If only there was one word that could fix this! So,
the people bring the man to Jesus that He may lay His hand on
Him.
Perhaps you know of someone who has it as rough as this deafmute. If only there was one word to fix all this torment! In our
day and age, God has blessed us with modern developments
such as ASL, teaching methods for the disabled, surgical means
when the patient qualifies, and so on, and yet Satan still deals
mighty blows to people, giving them rough lives. He wants to
take away any possibility for people to believe. And as he is
prevented by God and His angels, Satan has not muted or
deafened you, but man has he afflicted you. How many pains
has he caused you? Oh, how he wishes you would just give up
on the one-word healing thing! Satan perhaps is thinking,
“Come on! How can you still hold on? All those trips to the
hospital! I don’t know if the one-word healer wants to help you”
or “How’s that family of yours doing? Tsk Tsk, they aren’t what
they’re cracked up to be, aren’t they. Is that one word healer
really helping?” or “Aren’t you a little old to still be working,
and if not, how can you work in these conditions? Shouldn’t the
one-word healer have said His one word by now?” Satan will try
to drive you down. Oh, how he wishes he could make you deaf
and mute physically, but he can’t. For now, he wants to make
you deaf and mute spiritually. He wants you to give up on God.
He wants your ears to be deaf to God’s word, and your mouth
mute or else impeded, no longer wishing to say the name God or
Jesus anymore.
It's a tough world. It will batter and bruise us, and yet we are
reminded from the One Word of our one-word healer. Let’s turn
back to Scripture to see what happens with Him and the deafmute. Jesus takes the crowd up on their request, though He takes
the deaf-mute aside from the crowd. How else could He get the
man’s attention. He needed gestures, so He pulled the man
aside. He literally grabbed the man away to grab His attention.
Picture again from the man’s perspective. The crowd of friends
dragged you to a Jewish man and his twelve companions. You
have no idea what is going on. The Jewish man, Jesus, pulls you
to the side. It is just you and Him, but you have no idea that you
are staring into the face of the incarnate son of God. And you
would never know if you never had the word heard. How then
could this man know unless He could hear the Word?
The man looks at Jesus and within his deafened silence
experiences Jesus touching the man’s ears and tongue and then
sees Him spit, as if to say to the deaf-mute, “I am going to heal
you.” And Jesus after grabbing the man and getting His
attention, looks to Heaven with deep sigh, for this ailment pains
Him. Jesus’ ministry, His visitation is just endless amounts of
running into Satan’s darkness and its ill effects. It hurts Christ to
see it, and yet He came to take it away. He came to be the glory
of Israel and the light to the Gentiles. He came to show that He
was the Messiah. He came to heal sins ills, and He came to treat
the cause, not just the symptom. Jesus would destroy sin on the
cross. He would crush Satan and His ways. And knowing His
purpose, think then of the impact this has on all of you. Yes, the
hospital visits are tough. Yes, the family may not be where you
want them to be. Yes, the work and toil you endure is annoying
and endless. Sin has permeated your life and makes things hard,
but you now know about the Messiah. The word has told you
about Him. With one word Jesus said, “it is finished.” What is
finished? You have been redeemed. The sin that plagues you,
the sin within you that causes you to sin, the sin that deserves
eternal death in hell, that sin has been paid for. Jesus has offered
Himself on the cross for this purpose. Now when this world
ends, when the hospital visits, family disappointments, and
toilsome employments are said and done, you will not be staring
into an expanse of pain and suffering, but rather healing, for
Jesus has healed you of the cause of sinfulness. He has taken
away your sin and its guilt.
Therefore, He has destroyed the root of your problems. The
symptoms may still be plaguing you, but you have the assurance
that the symptoms will be healed at Judgment Day. They will be
taken away at the end of time. The Word of God assures you of
that, for in it we see a preview of our final healing displayed by
Jesus’ healing of the deaf-mute.
And so, continuing with the healing preview, Jesus looked to
Heaven. He knew what was coming. He knew His Father’s will.
He knew that one day He would bear this deaf-mute man’s and
all people’s sin on the cross, including yours and mine. He knew
what He came to fix. And so, in His glorious preview, what did
He do? He spoke one word, saying, “Ephatha.” This means “be
opened.” The deaf man then could hear, and His speech
impediment, his stiff tongue was loosened. He could now hear
and speak! Jesus did it! He healed the man with one word. And
should this surprise us? At the beginning, God spoke, and it was
so. Everything came into being at His speaking of words. He
spoke His word and created all things. And Here Jesus, God
incarnate, speaks for the man’s ears and tongue to be opened.
Jesus made this man, and now He fixes Him. He healed Him
with a word—Ephatha. He healed Him with His Word.
And so, what about us? He made us, and yet we have all these
aliments. Why doesn’t He just say to your body,
“be healed.”
Or to your family “Be reconciled.” Or to your work life,
“Be
still and complete?” Why doesn’t He say, “Ephatha” to you?
Well, He did, didn’t He? When you were baptized, washed with
water and the Word, He gave you His Holy Spirit and said,
“Ephatha.” Your heart was opened. Your faith created. Your
deaf-mute heart was healed, and Jesus keeps it healed with the
same word. Though Satan tries to close your ears and mouth,
Christ does not allow it, giving you His One Word to heal you
every day of your sins. He heals all with His word spiritually,
and He will heal all of us at the end of days by fulfilling His
Word of promise given. He will take your sorrows away on that
day, saying to the doors of Heaven, “be opened,
” that you may
never have to deal with those pains again.
And so, to conclude, let’s go back to the account, Jesus then
brought the healed man back to his friends, and He told them not
to tell anyone. Why? It wasn’t time yet. The people of the
Decapolis had no idea of the real purpose of Jesus’ ministry on
earth. They didn’t know yet that Jesus’ purpose wasn’t only to
cure sin’s effects but sin itself. The people didn’t realize that.
That day will come, but for now Jesus essentially says, “Keep
quiet and don’t tell anyone else.” Another reason Jesus gives
this charge is that He needed rest. He was swamped. He needed
rest. He was tired out each day on earth after working with the
pains of the physically ill, the broken family, and the
overworked. He was tired out after feeling all these things
Himself. Yes, Jesus experienced similar hardships to us:
Physical pain--nail pierced hands, Family pains—Judas’
betrayal, and work pains--the overloaded days of feeding
thousands, correcting sinners, and rebuking liars. Jesus knew it
all. He’s been there, and yet He came out on top. Jesus could
have fixed all his plights with one word, but He didn’t. He
endured it all for those who can’t fix things with one word: you
and me. The empathetic Savior did that in your place perfectly
and then healed you by His death and resurrection.
And so, in this endeavor, Jesus would not get His rest. The more
Jesus told them not to talk, the more they did it anyway. They
told the whole Decapolis region! This spread, and the people
said, “He has done all things well! He even makes the deaf to
hear and the mute to speak.” This account showed them the
wonderful and beautiful compassion of the Savior. It showed
them the nature of His work. It made them rethink the healing of
the demoniac. That was not a bad thing, but a very good thing!
And soon, Jesus would be feeding 4000+ with His power in this
Decapolis region. “He has done all things well!” Such beautiful
words from this uninformed crowd of Gentiles. He has certainly
done all things well. He lived a perfect life in your place while
enduring the same trials as you, He healed you on the cross, He
opened your ears and hearts through the Word and Sacraments,
and He will with one word heal you of all your pains at
Judgment Day where He will say to the gates of Heaven,
“Ephatha,
” opening for you the doors of everlasting life. Amen.

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