Monday, August 15, 2016

Sermon for 8/14/16: Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

RIGHT-CLICK HERE to save the audio file.


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

Everything seems to be a disease today. Whether it’s alcoholism or drug addiction or gender dysphoria, or whatever is wrong with a person, it has become popular to consider all human problems to be diseases. The problem is, that denies personal responsibility. Whatever’s wrong with me, it’s not my fault. I’m not responsible for my actions because it is a bug or a virus or bacteria or a genetic disposition or whatever else that’s at fault.

On the other hand, we have genuine illnesses and diseases: cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, autism, and a whole host of others. Most of you here have either suffered a debilitating disease or known someone else who has—perhaps it was someone quite close to you. It can be devastating in so many ways: so much time and money are invested in health care; emotions wear away at a person; and even every day tasks like eating are a lot harder. But perhaps the hardest part about disease is the list of questions: What could I have done differently? What if I had eaten only organic foods? What if I had exercised more, been more careful with germs, washed my hands more often, or not gone out in the sun as much? And there are other, harder questions: What did I do to deserve this? Have I sinned in some way? Is this my fault somehow?

The bottom line is this: no matter what the sickness or disease, the cause ultimately is sin. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that you will get cancer because you were mean to your spouse or children. But Scripture teaches you, and you know instinctively when you see this happen, that sickness, disease, and death are not right. This is not how God made the world. Death is not a natural part of life. Death was never a part of His plan. God created you to live, and to live forever. But disease, sickness, and death are here because sin is here. You can put whatever spin you want on it, but the truth is, you are all dying.

Yet in the midst of this crushing reality, there is hope. These friends bring the deaf/mute to Jesus and beg him to put His hands on him and heal him. They, and presumably the man himself, recognized that this is not right, and that only God can make it right. So they went to the only One who could finally heal both body and soul. They went to Jesus. God uses many people to heal our bodies. Doctors, nurses, moms and dads, all kinds of people go into the work of keeping you alive and healthy and safe day after day. But for all of their strength and power, all of their wisdom, years of schooling and knowledge, they cannot heal…not forever, at least. Their words do not create life. They may only sustain it for a while, stave off death for a moment or a day or a year.

That is the difference between the word of man and the Word of God. Jesus sees this deaf mute and speaks to him. He puts His fingers in the man’s ears, spits, and touches the man’s tongue. Jesus walks into this man’s life in a way which no one else could. While doctors and nurses may diagnose, they may prod and poke, and perhaps come up with some solutions for a time, Jesus enters this man’s life by His divine Word and touch. He says to this man a word in Aramaic: “Ephphatha,” that is, “be opened.” And the Word of God which created everything opened his ears to hear God’s Word and loosed the man’s tongue to speak His praises.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the healing you need—not the healing of your body, though that may happen for a time on this side of the grave. No, the healing you need can only come by the power of His Word. You need the healing Word of forgiveness. You need the Word which creates faith, which causes you to cling to Him and nothing else. You need the Word made flesh to be flesh for you. In the midst of things you cannot understand, when you are in trial and heartache, when you are hurt and despairing, it is the Word of God alone which will sustain you: as it goes in your ears in the preaching of the Word, and as it goes into your mouth in the Holy Supper of Christ’s body and blood. Come. Be opened. Be healed. 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: