Ears and Tongues
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord gives us ears to hear with and tongues to make words and talk. He gives us ears because, as the Bible says, "Faith comes by hearing." Those ears are also meant to be used to hear our neighbors. He gives us tongues to speak His Word back to Him, mouths that declare His holy name. That same mouth is also to be used for speaking love to our neighbor. But how do you use your ears and tongues? You selectively hear the Word of God. What is it that fills your ears, making you deaf to God's Word? And as for your tongues, you might have a hard time thinking up something nice to say, but you can easily gossip or lash out with an insult. What destruction has been caused by your tongue and your words? My brothers and sisters in Christ, you are deaf and dumb even if you can hear and speak!
That is why the Word became flesh: to take deaf ears and put His Word in them, to take tongues that spout gibberish and to make them speak rightly. When the man in our text is brought to our Lord, Jesus takes him aside. He sticks His fingers in the man's ears. Only the Word of God, only Jesus, can open his ears. Jesus spits and touches the man's tongue. It is water and the Word which opens this man's mouth, loosing his tongue to make him speak rightly. This man's ears are opened and his tongue loosed because the Word of God touches them. Jesus is the Word, the only thing that saves the sinfully deaf and mute. He is the Word who became flesh, putting on ears and a mouth and a whole body of flesh to carry the sins of the world. He is the Word who hangs on the cross and cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!" Think about that. When Jesus is on the cross, the Father is deaf to His Son. The Father speaks nothing to His Son. Jesus suffers and dies alone for our sins. He hears the mocking of us sinners and yet speaks forgiveness. On the cross the Word hangs for sinners, for us, for wayward children who have shut our ears to our Creator's Word and tied our tongues with their wickedness. For all that, the Word gives His life on Calvary.
As he did for the man in our text, Jesus opens your ears and looses your tongue. He does it the same ways: by the Word going into your ears in absolution and preaching; by water and the word poured at the font in Baptism. The Lord desires to fill you with His Word, to open your ears to hear His Word, to loosen your tongue to speak that Word back to Him. The Word that your sinful flesh doesn't want to hear is the very Word that saves you! You could stick your fingers back in your ears and say, "I can't hear you!" But why would you? This preached Word, this Word poured out, this Word that touches your tongue—this Word saves! It goes into your ears, giving you the forgiveness of sins. Then it comes out your mouth, praising and glorifying God, confessing and speaking rightly that Jesus alone saves.
Jesus opens your ears so that you will delight in hearing the Good News that saves you! He loosens your tongue so that your words will speak what you have heard: that Jesus is the One who saves you. He opens your lips that you might use them for good, for blessing your neighbor, by speaking well of others, explaining everything in the kindest way, putting the best construction on everything.
What goes in your ears comes out your mouth. It's true for kids learning to talk and learning to cuss. It's true for God's people learning His Word. Isaiah prophesied the time when the deaf would hear and those who murmured would learn doctrine. That time is now. Jesus has opened your ears and untied your tongues. He has rescued you from being deaf so that you would hear and believe His saving Word. He has loosened your tongues to speak His Word and bless those around you. By opening your ears and loosing your tongues, Jesus, the Word of God, has saved you. 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.