Trinity 12

"Restoring Creation"

St. Mark 7.31-37

Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor

+ In the Name of Jesus +

And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mk. 7:37; ESV)

When God created the heavens and the earth in six days, purely at the speaking of His Word, breathing His Spirit and life into man and upon the whole creation, God called His creation “very good.” The man and the woman were in direct communion with God, could hear Him clearly at all times, and could sing His praises freely and without reservation and with no falsehood. There was no barrier between God and man, and no barrier between the man and his wife. All was right and God said it was so, and all heard Him and heaven’s praises with total clarity.

But Satan and his evil legions rebelled against the Word of God and were cast out of the heavens, and woe to the earth and all upon it. For although he is doomed and defeated, he has the power and knowledge to attack the creation of God at the point where God had created it good: with words of evil, temptation, challenging the Word of God and the conscience of man that should be bound to that Word.

“Did God really say, you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” “You will not surely die.” God, Satan implies to Eve, is holding back, lying, not telling you the whole story. And Eve was deceived by these words, and she ate, and the man allowed her to listen to those words and eat undefended, almost as if he cruelly and coldly wanted to see if she would die by eating while he stood there – and then he saw the fruit was good and so ate of it himself.

Ever since, having sinful and fallen flesh, all of us children of Adam and Eve no longer are righteous to stand in God’s presence, the angel bars the door to paradise, and to direct communion with God, no longer according to our own conception and birth do we hear God clearly, no longer do we sing His praises and confess His name rightly without reservation, without falsehood or deceipt. There is a barrier which separates sin-sick man from God, and all men and women from each other. We are deaf to God and His Word, mute to sing and confess Him rightly to our neighbor who needs to hear His Word.

This really manifests itself so clearly today, doesn’t it! This week, a number of evangelical pastors in other conservative, Bible-believeing denominations released a statement on human sexuality while at a meeting in Nashville. Thus these ministers called their seven statements outlining the Biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality the “Nashville Statement”. The statements are very agreeable to this pastor, although they don’t say everything that can be said. They definitely affirm rightly the Bible’s clear teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality.

What is the world’s response? Typical: How dare they affirm the Bible’s teaching that marriage is to be between one man and one woman! How dare they affirm that the Bible teaches us to be content with who God created us to be as men and women. How dare anyone call struggling men and women to fight the cultural perversions manifesting themselves in their sinful flesh! Jesus would never teach such backwards, old fashioned thinking if He were walking around today, says the world, He would tell us to love people no matter what and allow them to keep hurting themselves, and not call what the Bible calls sin a sin, but just affirm people to do as they please. Included sadly in this terrible attack upon God’s Word and this Nashville statement is a very highly placed assistant to the current Pope, who seeks to change His church’s traditional teachings on marriage and family.

The attack is at the same place. God’s Word. Do we really hear what He says, do we really want to confess rightly what He says to the neighbor, and having heard, do we believe His Word in our heart and hold to it come what may?

David says in Psalm 38 of our fallen condition,

There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me… But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. (Ps 38:3–4,13–14; ESV)

Christ’s kingdom stands only in the Word of God. Jesus Himself came preaching in Mark’s Gospel: “The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk. 1.15) God’s Word cannot be dealt with except by these two members, the tongue and the ears. The tongue must speak it, the ears must hear it. The tongue must confess what the ears hear and the heart believes, so if you take away these two members, the tongue and the ears, there is no distinction left between a Christian and the rest of the pagan world. A Christian has ears that hear God’s Word, the truth, and the cry of the poor neighbor around him. A Christian has a tongue that gives God thanks and praise, glorifies Jesus Christ the Son of God, and speaks and confesses the truth. The world prefers to talk about its worldly matters, pleasures, and delights in what it deems important, without regard to the eternal Word of God.

So there is good reason for our Lord Christ to go to such pains to heal the deaf and mute man, and with so much ceremony. Spitting and touching the man’s tongue, and putting his fingers into the man’s ears, looking up to heaven, and sighing out, “Be opened.” He has seen the murderous harm that has been done by the devil in Paradise, and our Lord knows well the sorrow and distress the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh has wrought daily throughout the world. He knows the barrier which separates this sick man and all the sick children of Adam and Eve from the world of those who are well – He knows your infirmities all too well. You hear today of a Savior who cares and has come to break down and break through the barrier which separates the sick man from the world of those who are well. Which means God intends to do the greater work: not only can and will God restore creation and restore hearing and speaking to this man, so too does He desire to restore all men – you – to have open ears and a loosed tongue to God’s saving and life-giving Word.

Isaiah the prophet preached that all was not lost for sinners, that the Savior would bring this restoration of creation about:

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. (Is 35:5–6)

David said it this way in the fortieth Psalm (Ps. 40:1–10):

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have hewn out ears for me,Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Did you catch the verse in the middle? Literally (from the Hebrew), “you have hewn out ears for me,” or, “you have excavated ears for me.” (Here, we can just see Jesus digging his fingers into each of the deaf man’s ears!) There was something blocking and clogging our ears, and Jesus has removed it and opened our ears. He has made a passage through the dirt and a tunnel through the rock so that we can hear. Now that Jesus has restored the hearing, the believer tells the glad news of deliverance to the great congregation, “I have not restrained my lips,” I have spoken of the Lord’s faithfulness and salvation. “He has done all things well.”

Our Lord paid a dear price to restore to you His Word, that you can hear it clearly once again in His Church and kingdom, and use your tongue to rightly sing His praise and confess His name. He bore our rebellion and sin against His Word in His body upon the tree, following to the death His Father’s will and Word perfectly, innocently suffering the punishment Adam and Eve and all their children deserved, suffering the silence and loneliness and sickness of this world down to the very grave, and the stone was rolled shut there on sin and its consequences, all out of great love for you and the whole creation.

On the third day, the Father opened that grave, accepting His Son’s sacrifice, bringing Him forth the firstborn of a new creation, holy to stand at His right hand for all eternity. In your Baptism, the Lord excavates your ears anew and loosens your tongue and gives you His life and salvation and holiness, and He comes again today to touch your tongue with His own body and blood. Here in His blessed Kingdom built on His preaching and His washing and His touch, is the assurance that just as He could restore the deaf and mute man, so too He will put a halt at the Last to the terrible ruin which rebellion against God and His Word has wrought, and that things shall be restored as they were at the beginning: “very good.” Here, He assures you that He will say a mighty, “Be opened” to your grave at the Last Day, and to the graves of all mankind, and on that day all believers in Christ will hear clearly the glorious heavenly song, and eternally sing of their Lord and Savior: “He has done all things well.”

God grant His great day of a fully restored creation and paradise to come and come soon!

+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +