Jesus Heals Ear and Tongue
In today’s Gospel lesson [Mark 7:31-37], Jesus heals tongue and ear. He heals the body and the ability of the senses:
“[Jesus] returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis” – a region of ten gentile cities – “And they brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged Him to lay His hand on him. And taking him (the deaf man) aside from the crowd privately, Jesus put His fingers into the deaf man’s ears, and after spitting, touched the man’s tongue” – Jesus uses His own body, His own self, as physical means to heal this man’s ailment – “And looking up to heaven, Jesus sighed and said to the deaf and tongue tied man, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened’ – we see here the power of God’s spoken Word to do what it says - And the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”
We believe in the resurrection of the body and the power of the crucified and risen Christ to make our broken, lowly bodies whole and complete like His resurrected, glorious body. Jesus is the sure and certain hope for those suffering inabilities in their body, senses, or mind.
The healing of this man in the here and now is a foretaste of the full and complete healing we will receive, in Jesus, in the resurrection, at His return. Come Lord Jesus.
This healing of the deaf and tongue-tied man also shows us that we ought to commit every need to Christ – and that we ought to acknowledge the hand of Jesus at work in the medical advancements, procedures, and medicines that benefit us and our neighbor so greatly in the here and now.
God’s fatherly love and care for His creation is active and at work through those medical vocations which help our bodies. God works through His created means. We are effective witnesses in the world to God our Savior when we give Christ the credit and the thanks.
Let’s also be reminded not to take for granted the abilities we have. God gives us our body and soul, eyes, ears, hands and feet, our reason, and all our senses, and still takes care of them. Yet, many people – old and young – lack gifts and abilities of the body that we consider normal.
What’s behind the inabilities and deficiencies of the body or the senses? What’s behind all maladies and illnesses, whether physical or emotional or mental? What’s the cause?
God is not the cause. God did not create malady, illness, deficiency, lack, want, sickness, nor did He create death. God created life and fruitfulness and increase. In God’s original creation there was no death or lack, bodily or otherwise. Paradise was not separate from earth nor was it a thing to come, but it was part of life. Our home.
Death and decline – and the bad effects on our bodies and minds that come along with death and decline, and the deterioration of our human nature – including what the deaf and tongue-tied man suffered in today’s Gospel – these were not created but are the result of what we call Original Sin.
Original sin is not the sins we commit – the deaf and tongue-tied man is not suffering because of some thing he did. Original sin is the fallen condition of the whole human nature, affecting our souls and our bodies.
Man and woman were created in what we call a state of Original Righteousness. Human nature was, by nature, good and righteous. Life, health, longevity, ability, fruitfulness – and eternal life – are the natural result of Original Righteousness.
But man and woman fell into sin. Original sin is the lack, the absence, of original righteousness – the absence of fear, love, and trust in God – and the presence of distrust and disobedience to God.
We are not made from nowhere, disconnected from everyone else. In body and soul, we are all made out of the fallen human nature of those who came before us – our parents and their parents, back to fallen Adam and Eve. Born of the flesh [John 3:3-6].
So, original sin is also sometimes called “inherited sin” – it’s the sin-brokenness inherit in human nature.
Original sin has broken us, not just morally, but physically, biologically. All the hurtful things in life, and the lack of wholeness and health, are the natural result of original sin, of our human nature’s absence of original righteousness. This affects the whole creation. A declining world, no longer paradise [Romans 8:18-22].
But God’s mercy has been at work all the more. God is God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – three persons, one God. God the Son, the Son of God, in willing agreement with the Father, became Man, became Jesus, born of Mary.
Jesus, the holy Son of God, God and man in one person, was a man with what? With the original righteousness we lack. Righteousness instead of original sin.
He is the one and only Righteous Man – who by nature would never die or suffer in body or soul. Yet, on the cross, this Righteous Man suffered all things – in body and in agony of soul – and the Righteous died for the unrighteous - the whole for the broken.
Jesus traded places with us. He traded His paradise for our hell to give us paradise again. The one who loved the deaf and tongue-tied man and healed him using His own body loved all men and gave His body on the cross for all – to be raised for all, giving to us the resurrection of these broken bodies to become like His now risen and glorious body. He has done it.
Jesus, by the death and resurrection of His body in your place, has won for you what we confess at the end of the Apostles Creed – “…the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
At the end of our life, we each suffer the loss of all things – in us and around us. But, in Jesus, this loss of all things is the gateway to the acquirement of better things yet to come – for soul and body.
And Jesus, who has healed our ears and tongues physically, has also healed them spiritually. He has forgiven the sins of ear and tongue – which are so often quicker to listen to and speak of the negative rather than the good.
Jesus has forgiven ear and tongue and is healing our ears and tongues to hear good of one another and to speak to build each other up. To hear with the filter of forgiveness and with love of neighbor.
Jesus begins the renewal of paradise in His baptized people now. He completes it in the resurrection of our bodies – in which bodies we will forever be full of ability, life, completeness, and righteousness.
Thanks be to God for all the good He has done in and through Jesus, here and now, for body and soul, and for eternity. Amen.
Pastor Curtis Stephens was born in Flint, MI. He completed his M.Div. at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN and has served congregations in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Pastor Stephens began serving at Trinity in July of 2023.