Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Mark 7:31-37

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Imagine that you were part of the crowd in today’s text.  Some people bring to Jesus a man that everybody knows is deaf, and he can’t speak well.  And after Jesus takes him off by himself, the man comes back, and suddenly he can talk!  He can hear!  This is amazing!  This has never happened before.  People would be talking about this for weeks.  How could you not help but talk about it?

So, why does Jesus say to the crowd, “Don’t talk about it”?  Why does He say, “Be quiet”?  Well, that’s because miracles have another purpose.  You see, Jesus during His earthly ministry did all kinds of miracles, and a lot of those miracles were healing miracles.  But Jesus doesn’t desire just to heal.  Now, He certainly wants to heal.  He certainly wants to take care of all of the problems which sin has caused, but miracles have another purpose.

And now the first of those purposes is to show that He is God, to show that Jesus is who He says that He is.  And a real good proof of this comes from our Old Testament passage in Isaiah.  Isaiah writes, “Say to those who have an anxious heart:  Be strong, fear not.  Behold, your God will come with vengeance.  With the recompense of God, He will come and save you.”  God desires to come down and to fix the problems which our sins have caused.  He wants to make everything right, and that’s what Isaiah’s talking about.  Your God will come with vengeance.

But notice what else Isaiah says, when he continues:  “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.  For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.”  So when God comes down among His people, all of these signs come with Him and show that He is there.  And so, when there’s healings, when the blind can see and the deaf can hear, it proves that God is here and not somewhere far off.  And it also proves that Jesus is God, because Jesus is the one doing these miracles.

But another thing it shows is that God is not afraid to get dirty.  God is not afraid to get down in the muck and the mire and deal with these problems right here among us.  Proof of this comes from our Gospel text, where it says that Jesus, “taking him aside from the crowd privately, put His fingers into his ears, and after spitting, touched his tongue.”  Now, sticking fingers in an ear and then spitting on your finger and touching somebody’s tongue?  That’s kinda gross.  That’s something that we wouldn’t want to do.  It’s very physical, very visceral.  But God is not afraid of getting down into the dirt, not afraid of coming down into the midst of our suffering, into the midst of our pain, into the midst of all of this and taking care of the problem Himself.

And so He comes near today, here, even now in the midst of our suffering to get down and dirty and deal with the problems that afflict us.  Whether that comes from illness, whether that comes from sorrow, whether that comes from death, whether that comes from problems at home, problems at work, problems in society at large.  Jesus is here among His people, not afraid to come down and to get dirty.

But these miracles also show that God is a God who heals.  And because Jesus came down into the midst of our suffering, He also took upon His own back a wooden cross and went up that dirty hill in the midst of mud and tears and blood and sorrow and pain in a very physical way.  And He took all of that onto Himself and died on the cross.  And so when He comes down and does that, He dealt with the biggest problem.  He dealt with the reason why there is suffering in the world, because He dealt with sin, and He paid for it with His own blood, in His own physical, dirty body.

And because He has done that, because He has taken care of the big problem, He also takes care of all of those other things that come along with it, all of that suffering, all of that pain, all of that sorrow, everything.  Now, we might not always see that right now.  He never promised that He would make our lives easy.  But even if we don’t see the healing now, a day will come when there will be no more death, when there will be no more pain, when there will be no more sorrow, no more sickness, no more problems.  None of the things that sin has brought into this world will be anymore, because when Christ returns in glory, then He will take away all of those things, and you and I will be raised to eternal life in our real, physical bodies, and death will be no more.

And so why does Jesus want the crowds to keep quiet?  Well, because we might want to view Him just as some kind of miracle-worker.  I mean, it’s real easy to see Him that way.  But the miracles have the purpose of pointing to the cross, because as He healed this deaf, mute man, so also He will heal all of the problems of everyone in the world, because of sin, in the cross.  And we can be thankful for that, because in that moment, He has also taken care of everything.  It is finished.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.