September 6, 2018 [Pentecost 16]  Mark 7:31-37  J.D.Roekle

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.

33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). 35 At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” 

 

“He Has Done Everything Well”

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

          He has done everything well.  Those were words spoken by people who had just witnessed a miracle.  Jesus restored a man’s hearing and ability to speak.  They were excited!  They were excited because they were amazed at what they witnessed.  In fact, they were so excited that when Jesus told them not to tell anyone about it, they couldn’t help themselves and kept talking.  You can see why they were excited, can’t you?  It’s the kind of excitement you have when someone is cured of cancer.    

But what do you think these people were thinking before the miracle and before Jesus came by?  And think about the deaf and mute man himself.  What do you think he thought about God as he dealt with his handicap?  Do you think any of them questioned God about it?

          What are you going through?  What is it that you are dealing with?  Perhaps it is the effects that old age brings on.  Maybe you’re dealing with a health problem that has you adding another pill to your daily routine.  It could be that you are dealing with the health of a sick child.  Maybe someone you know and care about is addicted to alcohol or opioids. 

          The various suffering that we go through in life might get us to doubt God’s good intentions, and perhaps God’s ability to help us.  Does God really do everything well? 

          When the ones who witnessed the miracle in our text spoke these words, he has done everything well, they emphasized the word ‘well.’  In fact, in the original language, they put the word first in order to give it prominence. “Well has he done everything.”  They were convinced that whatever Jesus does, he does them well

          Think about what they seem to be echoing.  They seem to be going all the way back to Moses words in Genesis as he records what was said about creation.    Genesis 1:31.  “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”  It was very good.  Now, remember that this is what was said after the 6th and last day of creation.  Six times in the verses before this, Genesis uses just the word “good” to describe what he had created that day.  The creation of light was good.  The creation dry land and the seas was good.  The creation of vegetation was good.  The creation of sun, moon and stars that govern day and night and time was good.  The creation of birds and the fish was good.  The creation of land animals was good

          Now why use good all this time and then very good at the end?  Well one thing we need to remember that God has a different definition of ‘good’ than we do.  How was the sermon today?  Good, but it could have been a little shorter.  How was your food?  Good, but it was a little bland.  When God uses the word ‘good’ it means that it was just the way he intended it to be.  It is means that it was perfect.  The light was perfect. The vegetation was perfect.  The animals were perfect.  The reason he says very good at the end is because now everything was complete. 

          Remember what God’s crowning act of creation was.  It was the creation of Adam and Eve.  Once that was done, God was finished creating.  And all was perfect, including mankind.  Adam and Eve could well have said God has done everything well! 

          When you see a sunrise or sunset, or when you hike in a state or national park, or when you witness the birth of a child, you also could chime in and say God has done everything well!  At the same time, what we see today isn’t exactly the same as what Adam and Eve first saw.  Weeds infest the ground.  Disease affects plants, animals and people alike.  Things are far from perfect.  Does God really do all things well? 

          As Jesus was restoring the deaf man’s hearing, take note of what he did.  He looked up to heaven and sighed deeply.  What was this deep sigh all about?  When Jesus was at the grave of his friend Lazarus and saw Lazarus’ sister Mary and others weeping, we are told that Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” 

          Jesus knows that things are not the way in which were created.  There are many things that make us sad and that trouble us.  But those things that make us sad and trouble us do not come as a result of what God has done.  He certainly does everything well.  Instead, they come as a result of the fall into sin through Adam and Eve.  It was their sin which brought deafness, decay and death into the world.  As Jesus sighs, he is agonizing over the results of the fall which he sees before his very eyes in the face of this man who can’t hear nor speak.  He is moved by the reality of what is, rather than what might have been. 

          What might have been was perfection always.  No sin means no pain, sadness or death.  But Adam’s sin and consequently our sin has made God’s creation not very good.  The fact that the world is not very good today is not God’s fault, but ours. 

          When you and I sigh, it might often mean that we’re sad or tired and can do little or nothing about whatever is making us sad.  Not so with Jesus.  Even though he sighs about the present state of the world and people, he goes to work and does something about it. 

          Here we see him act and speak very simply.  He put his fingers in the man’s ears, touched his tongue with his spit, and said simply “Ephphatha!”  “Be opened!”  That’s all it took.  The man was restored.  He was able to hear and speak.  It was a miracle! 

          And this miracle, along with all the other miracles Jesus performed, was meant to be a restoration of the way things were supposed to be from the beginning.  Each miracle was meant to communicate that Jesus had come for the sake of restoring all people, because God indeed does everything well

          When people are going through difficulties, we can empathize with them.  However, much of the time we are powerless to help them.  In Jesus’ deep sigh, we see him empathizing with our weaknesses.  Jesus gets it. He knows the pain and hurt you experience.  He’s been there.  But he doesn’t just empathize, he takes our place. 

          This was all a part of God’s plan.  God’s original plan was to create the world in perfection so that it remains in a perfect state forever.  But since that plan was ruined, God went on to “plan B”.  His plan to restore us.

          I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be deaf.  That’s often crossed my mind since I have several deaf relatives.  What would it be like to walk in their shoes?  On the other hand, I don’t have to wonder what it is like to be spiritually handicapped.  That happens to me by nature because I’m born in sin.  And it happens to you too.

          But the Savior restores you and me.  When Jesus had healed the deaf man, he told those who witnessed it not to tell anyone about it.  Why would he do that?  Because he didn’t want people to get the wrong idea as to why he was there.  He was not doing miracles for show or to gain fame.  Instead, he did them in order to prove that he had the ability to restore people through his cross. 

          Jesus would take all the sins that handicap us away by carrying them with him to his death and grave.  The curse of sin has been broken.  The resurrected Christ is evidence of it!  We are indeed restored.  We are able to see God’s plan, to hear his precious promises, and to speak his praises. 

          But even though we are restored, we still live in the reality of an imperfect world.  And that leads us once again to the question we began with: Does God really do everything well? 

          While God’s plan to save us from an eternity away from him has been completed, his restoration plan isn’t yet complete.  You see, God isn’t about ‘bandaid’ solutions.  He’s into getting to the root of the problem and fixing it for good.  That means that a final restoration is coming.  It is ahead of us in the glories of heaven where there will be no question as to God’s ability to do everything well.  It is there that perfection will be restored.  Where all evil will be shut out.  And where Jesus our Savior himself will reside with us.  In the meantime, as we continue to walk on this side of glory, we can live in confidence knowing that God indeed does everything well.  Amen.