Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sermon for 8/18/13--Trinity 12



Opening Ears and Lips

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

If you think about it, what goes on in the Divine Service is two simple things: you listen…and you speak. God's Word goes in your ears, and His Word comes out of your mouth. The Lord speaks when you are absolved, when the Scriptures are read, when the sermon is preached and when the Words of Institution are sung. This is God's Word which goes into your ears. And then that Word comes out of your mouth in the Creed, the hymns, and the liturgy. Today you get to do the two things the man in today's Gospel couldn't do: he could not hear God's Word, and he couldn't sing the Lord's praises. His ears were shut. His tongue was tangled.

This miracle isn't like the other miracles of Jesus. Here He doesn't just speak a word and the man hears. Instead He sticks His fingers in the man's ears and spits and touches the tangled tongue. He cries out His Word, “Be opened!” and the man could hear clearly and speak plainly. By His touch and by His Word, Jesus frees this man from his inability to hear God's Word. The devil would like nothing more than for this man to be deaf to God's Word and to speak nothing but mumbles. But Christ, the Son of God, destroys this power of the Devil. He opens the man's ears and looses his tongue. This miracle teaches us first of all that Christ came to save us from the Devil. He has borne your sins on the cross and by His death, He robs the Devil of any claim on you. By His sacrifice in the place of sinners, Jesus disarms Satan and rescues us from the kingdom of darkness.

Jesus is teaching us something here. Not only does He teach us that He is the Son of God who can heal a deaf man; He is also teaching us that we need our ears opened and our tongues loosed. He’s the only one who can do that for us. Isaiah prophesied that the deaf would hear; He also predicted that those who were in error would learn the Lord's teaching. Jesus opens our ears through the water and word poured on us in Holy Baptism, through the Word of Absolution, and by the preaching of Christ crucified. He touches our tongues with His own body and blood. Without the touch of these gifts, we would be forever deaf. Without the touch of Christ by His Word and Sacraments, our tongues would never confess His name. Without the Lord opening our ears and loosing our tongues, we would never be saved. But that is why Christ came. It is why He comes now by His means of grace: to open our ears and pour into them His saving words of forgiveness, life and salvation.

Why is it that we can sing the latest Lady Gaga song but can't repeat more than a few Psalms from the Bible? Why is it that we can recite whole speeches from movies but struggle to remember the Catechism? It's because those things that go into our ears are what come out of our mouth. What we hear, we speak. It's that simple. If your ears are filled with junk, junk is going to come out of your mouth. This is why we strive to be in church as often as possible: to hear God's Word and have His Word cleanse us from our sins. Here where His Word is, Christ removes the filth of our sins which stops up our ears and tangles our tongues. Here, Christ continues to open our ears to fill them with His saving words and open our lips so that we may declare His praise. That’s why in the hymn “Thy Strong Word” we pray:

Give us lips to sing thy glory,
Tongues thy mercy to proclaim,
Throats to shout the hope that fills us,
Mouths to speak thy holy name.

We arrived here with our ears filled with the trash of the Devil, our tongues tied with his lies and false promises. But by the power of the Word of God, your ears have been cleaned out and your tongue has been loosened to sing God's praise. The same Lord who opened the ears of a deaf man opens your ears and fills them with the Word that saves you, the Word that declares to you, “Your sins are forgiven!” The same Lord who loosened this poor man's tongue lets your tongue loose to confess His holy name. We hear, and we speak and sing, confessing, Behold, "[Jesus] has done all things well! He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak!" 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.

No comments: