Opening Ears and Lips
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
There's a reason Jesus needs to open our ears and loose our tongues. The healing of this deaf and mute man shows us what we are in our sin: unable to speak and unable to hear. Of course, we already practice selective hearing. When we hear a juicy story we can usually repeat it pretty accurately. When we hear a sermon, we'd be hard pressed to say what it was about much past lunch on Sunday—and that’s true of the one who preaches the sermons, too. We are deaf to the Word of God and can't repeat it clearly.
The Lord opens the ears of this deaf man and looses his tongue. Jesus does it to show this man and us that He is the Savior. Part of what we need saving from is being deaf and dumb when it comes to God and His Word. The world around us is that way. The world closes its ears to God's Word, and it can't say anything understandable about God's Word either. One the one hand you have the so-called "experts" and "scholars" that can say all kinds of nothing and use big words to do it. On the other hand you have the charlatans and frauds, the false preachers who do nothing but babble nonsense. And of course there's our sinful flesh, which just loves to cover our ears and drown out the Word with childish noises.
We need Jesus to open our ears and loose our tongues. And He can do it because He's the Lord. He's the One who was not deaf to our cries but heard them and answered them. Jesus healing this deaf man is about more than just showing He can do it. It's about showing that He can do it because He's the Son of God who came to save sinners. Since it is our sin which makes us deaf to God and unable to speak clearly what He says, He takes away our sin—and in doing so, He opens our ears and looses our tongues.
Jesus is the only one who can open our ears and loose our tongues. We can't hear God's Word by trying to pay close attention. We need Him to stick his fingers in our ears and to spit and touch our tongues! How does He do it? The Apostle John called Jesus “the Word made flesh.” Whenever we hear His Word, whenever the Word goes in our ears, that is our Lord, touching our ears to open them. In Holy Baptism, in the preaching of the Word, Jesus opens our ears. And when He gives us His body and blood to eat and drink, there He touches our tongues to loose them so that we might confess His Word and speak and sing His promises! It is by Christ's Word and through His forgiveness that He gives that our ears are opened and our tongues are loosed to speak.
But such clear speaking only comes from hearing Christ's Word. If the deaf man's friends didn't bring Him to Jesus, his ears might never have been opened! Just so, if we cut ourselves off from Christ's Word, our ears are shut and our tongues just babble nonsense. If your children had a speech impediment, you'd do everything to make sure they got therapy to help them to speak clearly. If they were deaf, you'd seek medical help or teach them sign language or seek another avenue of help. How much more do you need to bring them to hear God's Word so that Jesus will open their ears and loose their tongues to hear and confess Christ and His forgiveness! The Divine Service, Sunday School and Catechism and Bible Study: those are the places where Jesus opens your ears and teaches you to speak plainly. If your confession of Jesus isn't clear, then be where He opens your ears so that the Word that goes in will come out of your mouth clearly.
In the order of Matins we pray, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.” Jesus opened the ears and looses the tongue of a deaf man. According to the prophet Isaiah, this identifies Him as the true Savior of sinners and healer of those who are under the curse of sin in this world. This Jesus is the One who has also opened your ears by His Word, who has touched your tongue and loosed it. Because of this, we can confess: “He has indeed done all things well.” In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.