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Traditional Lutheran worship services, using The Lutheran Hymnal and the KJV.

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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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. Mark 7:31ff.
Healing of the Deaf Mute

By Norma Boeckler



The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. 2012


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 

Hearing and Speaking Plainly

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.



Hearing and Speaking Plainly




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.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 308


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.

In this passage there is an emphasis upon Jesus keeping away from the opponents and giving time, we assume, to His disciples, to teach them. The Twelve were tutored for three years. The crowds were attracted to the gracious presence of Jesus and His powerful preaching. They also trusted in Him to heal their sick.

It is a testimony to His power that people sought Him out wherever He went, especially since Jesus was traveling away from those areas where He would be best known and recognized.

Luther often gave Scripture passages an allegorical and spiritual meaning, which seems to be a stretch at first. Upon reading Luther’s commentary, we can see where his grasp of the entire Bible informed him so well.

There is a vast gulf between this miracle as seen by the rationalists and the real lesson of the healing.

We can see how the rationalists can take our initial reaction and make hay with it. This miracle seems crude and magic-like at first. But the details teach all we need to know.

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.

First we see faith and love. The crowd brought a deaf-mute to Jesus to heal. They knew of His reputation and had compassion for their friend and relative. We often call him a mute, but his poor hearing probably gave him very poor speech, since he did not receive the immediate sounds we know and take for granted. We sold our New Ulm to a man with similar problems. His son had to interpret for him. The father heard us with difficulty and spoke so we barely understood a word. That is a difficult situation, where every common situation is fraught with communication problems.

In love, they begged Jesus to lay His divine hands upon their friend. This reminds us that Jesus answered every single request put before 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.
Lenski:
This preliminary action (hence expressed by a participle) is both wise and significant for the man. He is alone with Jesus, removed from the excitement and the distraction of the crowd. His eyes watch Jesus, and he understands that Jesus is about to do something for him, for taking him away must have been done for some special purpose. Thus the man’s attention is riveted upon Jesus alone.
In the same way the next actions of Jesus speak to the deaf-mute. Jesus uses sign language that is simple and plain so the deaf-mute cannot help but understand. He thrusts his fingers into the man’s ears. Here was the seat of one of his ailments—those ears were deaf. But why do those two fingers (why do some interpreters say thumbs?) draw attention to the deafness of the ears? The thought is conveyed to the man that Jesus intends to do something about this deafness. We now have a finite verb, this is one of the main actions. Let us note in connection with it that the eyes of Jesus undoubtedly spoke to the eyes of the man.
First the deaf ears, next the mute tongue. The sign language continues. First a minor action which is again expressed by a participle: Jesus “having spit.” Some commentators say that Jesus spit upon the man’s tongue, or, finding this too coarse, that he spit upon his fingers and conveyed the spittle to the man’s tongue; and then notes are appended about the supposed healing powers of human spittle. Where does Mark say or intimate any of these things? Jesus spit and then touched the man’s tongue, of course, with a finger. Both actions tell the man that Jesus wants him to centre his attention on his mouth and on his tongue. That mouth and that tongue are speechless, Jesus must be intending to do something about this ailment. The actions are symbolic. To talk about the spittle as a medium for conveying the power of Jesus is not justified by the text; nor is the laying on of his hand in other cases a medium. The miracles are wrought by the will of the Lord, sometimes by that will alone, often by that will expressed in an almighty word even as in this instance. Touching with the hand is only symbolical.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 309.

This part strikes people as crude, so the skeptics jump on their reaction and say this was borrowed from old miracle stories. Step by step, the real story is quite different, as Lenski explained.

First, Jesus took the man away from the multitude. Nothing would be more confusing for the deaf man than to hear the din of the crowd and see their gestures. Perhaps no one is really 100% deaf. If so, that person can still feel the vibrations of noise generated by the crowed. So if the man had a little hearing, the crowd noise and movement would have been frightening.

Jesus put His fingers in the ears of the man, showing He would heal them. He spit and touched the man’s tongue, the other healing. Now that the healing and speech were being restored, Jesus sighed and said, “Be opened.”



Lenski:
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.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 311.

Luther:
11. He addresses here particularly two organs of the body, the ear and the tongue; for you know the Kingdom of Christ is founded upon the Word, which cannot be apprehended or understood except by these two organs, the ear and the tongue, and he rules in the hearts of men alone by the Word and by faith. The ears apprehend the Word, the heart believes it; the tongue, however, speaks or confesses that which the heart believes. Hence, barring the tongue and ears, there is no perceptible difference between the Kingdom of Christ and that of the world.

12. For in regard to the outward life a Christian has duties like an unbeliever; he tills the ground, works his fields, and plows just like others, and he undertakes no peculiar work or deed, either in eating, drinking, working, sleeping, or anything else. But these two organs of the body make a difference between a Christian and an unbeliever; a Christian speaks and hears differently; he has a tongue which praises the grace of God and preaches Christ the Lord as being the only Savior, etc. This the world does not do; it speaks of avarice and other vices, preaches and praises its own glory.

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

The man understood the gestures, and the crowd saw the actions. Watching, they heard the Word of God – Be opened!

Immediately the deaf man heard and he spoke plainly. The binding of the tongue might have been physical or directly related to the hearing problem. Either way we look at it, the healing was complete and immediate, proven by the clear speaking of the former deaf-mute.

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.

This news was so great that the crowds could not stop talking about it. With some miracles, the healed person testified or followed along as proof (as Lazarus did). This response was more like the “whole world” testifying about Jesus. Of course, it was not the whole world, but when a small community is rocked by a great event, it does seem like that, whether the news is good or bad.



Lenski:
A multitude was present as Mark also reports in connection with the healing of the deaf-mute. The command not to report the latter miracle must thus be extended to include also the many others. Since Mark himself records no reason for this command of Jesus, we are left to figure this out ourselves. Various opinions are naturally held. The best, we judge, is that which takes into account the time in the ministry of Jesus. He has only a few months left, and he does not want the excitement to spread far and wide about his being the Messiah. The people generally connected earthly, political ideas with that title, the very ideas which Jesus combated. So he did what he could to keep his miracles quiet at this time. But, as in this instance, he did not succeed.
Lenski, R. C. H.: The Interpretation of St. Mark's Gospel. Minneapolis, MN : Augsburg Publishing House, 1961, S. 312.

Among the modern Biblical scholars, much is made of the “Messianic secret.” Why did Jesus tell so many people to stay quiet about what He did?

Some wise guys thought Jesus did that just to get them to talk more about Him. Others turn into various fantasies, which are great for filling in the void where faith is absent.

The best solution is the most obvious. The timetable was set and described in the Old Testament books. The normal reaction of the crowd was to rush the process and anoint Jesus as the King (Messiah, Son of David). To do that would have meant more hardship for the innocent, with Rome’s reprisals.

But the real message is – the Gospel could not be contained. The divine power of Jesus was so great that the population took over the task of being heralds of His coming.

The most powerful miracle of all, for the population, was coming – the raising of a prominent and wealthy leader – Lazarus. That is clearly the event that tipped the scale for the triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
Hearing and Speaking Plainly
Many people have said to me, “I never knew this to be true about Lutheran doctrine.”

They apologize for not knowing much more, long ago. But that feeling is true for most of us. Luther had a Medieval papal-centered education. He was shocked to his core by the corruption in Rome, by the selling of forgiveness. He also had years of study of the Scriptures, which informed him through the Holy Spirit instead of through the papacy.

As one secular motto said, “Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.”

The world is run by deception and greed, deception aimed at hiding the greed. Luther said that, and it is still true. Honest speaking is rare. People learn to deceive and they often deceive with double-talk. They deliberately say things so the point can be one thing or the other, exactly the opposite.

There are the deliberate deceivers and those who do not know better. Combining the two messages, we can often get confused.

The deliberate deceivers do not believe in anything except their own good. Therefore, it is in their interest to let everyone “wander in error’s maze confounded” as Luther wrote in his great hymn – O Lord, Look Down from Heaven Behold.

I was pleased to see that one of the most popular blog posts has been Luther’s statement about being taught by the Holy Spirit.

"The Holy Spirit teaches man better than all the books; He teaches him to understand the Scriptures better than he can understand them from the teaching of any other; and of his own accord he does everything God wills he should, so the Law dare make no demands upon him."

Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 280. Pentecost Sunday John 14:23-31.     


When error and deception jolt us, we hunger for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. That comes directly from the Scriptures. That is the purest form of God’s Word, an unchanging standard.

Man may make mistakes and deceive, but the Bible never does, as Luther said in the Large Catechism.  

The Word of God is our measuring rod, and we share insights with each other.
After teaching about justification by faith for years, I received the best summary from Brett Meyer linking a sermon from Luther and quoting. Simply put – believing in Christ is forgiveness.

There are so many complications that only a PhD in Pietism could follow, but Luther’s words are simple and plain.

Likewise, another Lutheran did research on the connections with Pietism and Calvinism.

And another searches the Book of Concord for good quotations to share.

Hearing the truth plainly means we can speak the truth plainly. That means everything in a confused world of babbling.

Decades ago, we could count on a society where the basics of the Bible were known and understood, even if they were not followed.

Now there is great ignorance and indifference. The norms are not accepted from the past. The norms are the opposite of the recent past. That is why we need to speak the truth plainly.

The struggle continues. The reward for the truth is the cross. But the reward for the “dear, holy cross” as Luther called it is – is fruitfulness, a blessing in knowledge, and an eagerness to hear the truth.

Each week I look forward to looking up the lesson and copying Luther’s sermon onto the blog front page for people to read.


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