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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works asgregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 2011






The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2011


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Church, 10 AM Central Time


The Hymn #462               I Love Thy Kingdom             4:21
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed             p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #123                O God Our Help            4:3 

The Savior in the Word

The Communion Hymn # 304 An Awful Mystery            4:6 
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #  376     Rock of Ages                                   4:47

KJV 2 Corinthians 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33 And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

Twelfth Sunday After Trinity

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast created all things: We thank Thee that Thou hast given us sound bodies, and hast graciously preserved our tongues and other members from the power of the adversary: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy grace, that we may rightly use our ears and tongues; help us to hear Thy word diligently and devoutly, and with our tongues so to praise and magnify Thy grace, that no one shall be offended by our words, but that all may be edified thereby, through Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

The Savior in the Word

KJV Mark 7:31 And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

Lenski:
“Again” means that Jesus started once more; this time “out from the borders of Tyre.” In v. 24 we see that the boundaries are referred to. Up to this time Jesus had not been on foreign soil, but now Mark states positively that “he went through Sidon,” which lies five miles north of Tyre. But Jesus is only on a journey, we hear of no teaching or miracles. It seems that he remained unknown, and that he himself sought to remain so, and that he devoted his time to the instruction of his disciples, which was the main occupation of Jesus during the last part of his ministry.
Mark alone tells about Jesus’ passing through Sidon. What other points Jesus touched we do not know. Matthew as well as Mark report as the destination the Sea of Galilee, its eastern side. Matthew writes “alongside”, Jesus passed alongside of the sea and went beyond it; Mark states that this was “in the midst of the borders of Decapolis.” We thus see that Jesus moves on the outskirts, keeps away from his enemies, secures time for his disciples, and, where he does come into contact with people, helps such as he had not reached before. The Decapolis is the territory of the ten cities, a region to the southeast of the lake. The healed demoniac had filled this country with the great news of what Jesus had done for him. As the SyrophÅ“nician woman knew about Jesus, so the people in this region must have known him even more.
[1]Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 308

This is another sermon where faith and works are taught at the same time, and we can learn about both from this simple miracle story.

The faith of a group of friends moved them to bring their deaf-mute companion to Jesus. This faith is not difficult to understand. Jesus healed people, performed great miracles, and taught with authority – not like the scribes and Pharisees.

The difference between Jesus and the Pharisees was easily seen. Jesus taught boldly as the Son of God. This is explained more fully in John’s Gospel. Everything He said and did came from the Father, honoring the Father. This angered the religious leaders, who felt completely overshadowed by the words of Jesus and His appeal to so many people. They gathered to hear the Gospel from Him, learning that righteousness did not come from obeying a set of rules but from faith in the Messiah.

The teaching and miracle working went together. The miracles confirmed the teaching, building a base of believers who would be gathered and led by the apostles after the resurrection and ascension of Christ.

Mark, quite concise, says that “they” brought this man. From the context we can tell that they had faith that Christ would help their friend, who was locked in a world where he could not communicate with others, and others could not communicate with him.

At first glance the actions of Jesus seem quite odd, especially when we compare it to other miraculous healings. He did not even go to the home of the centurion to heal the man’s son. He simply gave the command, as asked, and the boy was healed. So, in comparison, this seems crude and a bit embarrassing. The skeptics have fun with the details – but skeptics always do. God blinds them in their hardness of heart, so they mock what should be converting them. The more they mock, they blinder they become.

32 And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.

The details are very important in such a brief story. Here we see the man could not hear and could not speak. The friends begged Jesus to lay healing hands on their companion.

If we put ourselves in the deaf-mute’s position, we can imagine the confusion. He is brought to a place where a huge crowd surrounds the man Jesus. This is frightening when nothing can be explained. When people cannot talk, but see and hear, it is easy to speak to them and look for facial responses. That becomes a habit, looking at their eyes and their facial muscles for a response. That response can be checked out. I remember Larry, with ALS, who used a computer to speak. He had a big YES! He put on the computer screen by blinking his eyes. I said, “Larry, don’t shout.” He smiled at that, and his nurse laughed.

Being deaf meant all kinds of confusion, and not being able to speak kept the man from asking questions. That explains the details of the healing.

33 And he took him aside from the multitude,
To end the confusion and fear caused by the great crowd, Jesus took the man away, showing His understanding and compassion.

and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;
This sacramental details are for the deaf-mute, not us. Jesus showed the man what he was doing to heal him. His movements meant, “I am healing your deafness and giving you speech.”

34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.

When Jesus looked up into heaven, He was showing the man that this healing was coming from God. Next He did more than show visually what He was doing. The Son of God, the Creating Word of God, who fashioned the universe in six days, healed the deafness with one Word – Ephphatha.

Lenski:
More sign language follows. Again a participle expresses the subordinate action: Jesus looks up to heaven. The man watches Jesus do this. He grasps the idea that the help that Jesus brings him is from heaven, is divine, almighty help that is far different from anything merely human. With this upward look Jesus sighs. The man is to see the sigh, it is part of the sign language which Jesus is using. The heavenly help is one that should be sought with the sigh of earnest longing, a sigh that is in itself already a prayer. It is a misconception to regard this sigh of Jesus as a prayer of his to God to enable him to work the miracle. Such a conception reduces Jesus to the level of the prophets and the apostles who wrought their miracles, not by their own power, but by that of God (Christ). The additional remark that the sigh expressed also the sympathy of Jesus for the afflicted man introduces a diverse element—once the sigh is a prayer, again it is something else.
The man understood the sign language of Jesus. It is impossible to assume the contrary, i. e., that Jesus had failed in his effort to have the deaf-mute understand these signs. We may say that this language of Jesus was intended to arouse faith in the man. But it would be unwarranted to make the miracle that now followed dependent on the man’s faith. It depended wholly on the will of Jesus. Jesus sometimes tries to instil faith before the miracle, he sometimes lets faith follow after the miracle. It all depends on the case. The deaf-mute may well have received a spark of faith before the almighty word was spoken; but it was not his faith that enabled Jesus to heal him, it was solely the power and the will of Jesus.
After the man has been fully prepared, Jesus speaks the one word “Ephphatha,” the Aramaic imperative ethpael. Mark preserves the very word that Jesus uttered just as he does in 5:41. He wants his Gentile Christian readers to have the very syllable and the sounds that came from Jesus’ lips in working this miracle.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 310.

In experiencing this healing, which took place immediately, in hearing the Word spoken, the deaf-mute knew and understood who Jesus was, and believed in Him, just as his friends did.

The rationalists like to have all healings come from faith, so they are really psychological blocks. We have Freud to blame for that. The widow’s son had no faith – he was dead. Lazarus was dead. The young girl was dead – the crowd laughed at Jesus.

Faith in Jesus and the miracles went together. Sometimes the faith in Him was first. The centurion believed in the efficacy of the Word because he, as a Roman military officer, knew what it meant to be a human commander. God as the commander of all things had to be far more powerful. The officer trusted that to be true and told Jesus that truth, one lost on this generation of Lutheran ministers, who trust in their own clerverness and methods.

35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

The healed man had a new world opened up to him, one where he heard every word spoken and where he could reply and make himself understood. Although the healing of the blind is impressive, a blind person who can hear and speak has many advantages over a deaf-mute who is locked in a world of no communication. This was especially joyful for the group, who saw their faith transformed into God’s action, as they hoped.

36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

The ending of this miracle shows that Jesus could not silence the crowds, no matter what He said. One problem was the desire to make Him king and change God’s own schedule, which could not be done. More importantly, this shows that knowledge and experience of Christ necessarily turned into proclaiming the news about Him. As Jesus said, “Even the stones would cry out.”

Strangely, Lutheran leaders take away the Gospel and belittle faith, yet they beg their confused followers to “witness to their faith” and “invited people to church.” The leaders turn this into law because they have no faith in the Word. They are like the city slicker farmer who wants more milk. He tugs at his milk cow twice as hard instead of feeding her more hay.

Luther wrote:
21. Now if the Word go on its way in this threefold manner, it cannot fail to bring forth fruit, as God says, Is. 55:11: "My Word, that goeth forth out of my mouth, shall not return to me void." This is indicated by the action of the pious persons who carry the mute into Christ's presence; this signifies the ministers, who bring forward the sinner; then God appears, giving growth and increase, as Paul says, 1. Cor. 3:7, He opens the sinner's eyes, ears, and mouth. This happens in a wink of the eye, for God's Word is like lightning, which in a moment passes from sunrise to the ends of the earth. Thus when such persons are brought to God, he gives them grace to believe.


Application:
This miracle teaches us that we can bring people to Jesus, or Jesus to people. This happens in many ways, but always through the Word. We cannot give our faith to anyone, but bringing people together with the Word is the chief of all the good works that come naturally from faith in Him.

Many times people are discouraged by the results of their work in sharing the Gospel. But we never know exactly how and when God will work through the Word, only that results are inevitable.

The three main responses are:
  1. Indifference.
  2. Anger.
  3. Appreciation and conversion.

Indifference and anger bother believers, who expect something better. Many times the apparent indifference is really the sign that people are deeply disturbed, so disturbed they do not even respond.

Anger means the Old Adam finds the Word of God bitter and unacceptable, as if that person just got a drink of battery acid or liquid yogurt. Once that argument begins within someone’s soul, the Word of God is at work.

Appreciation and conversion is pleasing, and we can see that all around us. People have babies and baptized them. They have converted unbelievers. No other group of believers is more attuned to the teaching of others than our own children are. Yet many neglect or take for granted this little school of Christianity. It is shocking how many clergy spend all their time and energy with everything else, neglecting their own households. One District President bragged at a clergy meeting. “I didn’t raise my children. I was too busy. My wife did all that.” The funny thing is – he thought he was praising himself, talking about how much work he did for the church organization. I thought, “What a drip. You missed the best part of life and glory in a petty title in a little sect.” Better to have a believing family with both parents than a bunch of children who say, “Do you know who my father is?”

Many people take part in scattering the Gospel Word in all directions. One example is the new children’s book – The Story of Jesus in Pictures. This book is already on the Internet and available free all over the world. The local dentist’s office has a copy. Several copies were sent to Denver. Samples will be at my 45th high school reunion. Later, additional copies will go out in bunches to be shared. One version  is full-color. Another is a coloring book and (soon) a Sunday School or VBS book.


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