Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Christ Has Done All Things Well

by Pastor Paul Wolff

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 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.

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. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)

Jesus heals us from sin and its consequences
(Liturgical clip art by Clemens Schmidt)

No sinner does everything well. Everything we do is tainted by sin in some way. There is a saying, “Jack of all trades – master of none.” This means you can’t be good at everything. The most you can hope to do is to be good at one thing, and hope that this is a talent for which someone will pay you handsomely. Many people have made their fortune by specializing in one thing or another. This has its downsides though. God have mercy on you if you see a doctor for an ailment which is outside of his specialty.

Jesus truly has done everything well, but because of our sinful nature we don’t really care if Jesus has done everything well. We each want God to say, “You have done everything well,” just as we truly (though wrongly) believe that we already do everything well enough. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, and measure ourselves up against God’s Law, we must admit that we don’t even come close to doing everything well.

Though, here we must ask: does God really expect us to do ALL things well? Though we hope that the answer is “no” we read in Leviticus 19 where God tells His people, “Be holy because I, the Lord, Your God, am holy.” This passage shows that God does require us to be perfectly holy as God is holy. We should remember, however, that when God first made people He made them holy as He is holy, but our first parents rebelled against God and lost their holiness. We continue in that rebellion. St. Paul quotes from Psalm 14 in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” No sinner can do everything well, because we all rebel against God and His righteous laws. There are no exceptions “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) If we measure ourselves against God’s Law we must join St. Paul in saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

Faith comes by hearing and believing the Word of Christ
(Romans 10:17)

So while we haven’t done much good, but have instead sinned greatly, Jesus has done all things well. Jesus even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak. Jesus said many times, “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear.” But on this day Jesus met a man who had ears that could not hear. So Jesus not only healed the man of his deafness, but gave him the ability to speak, also. Giving the man speech was no less a miracle than healing his deafness. If you know anyone who has been deaf since birth you know how hard it is for deaf people to talk. Though deaf schools do a great job of teaching the deaf how to speak, it is a difficult process, and it takes time. Even if a deaf person were to receive hearing today, it would still take time to learn how to speak clearly, but Jesus gives the man speech immediately. This reminds me of what God did at the Tower of Babel. In one day God gave the people different languages so that they forgot their old language and spoke new ones and couldn’t understand one another. In this case, however, Jesus gave this man speech so that he could be heard and understood by his friends and family.

Jesus did this out of compassion for the man. He didn’t do this for publicity, and certainly not to be known as a miracle worker. In fact, Jesus took the deaf man away from the crowd and put his fingers in his ears and spat and touched his tongue and healed him. I’m not sure what the spitting was all about, but it is likely that he touched the man’s ears and tongue to show the man what he was doing in healing him.

Then after giving the man hearing and speech, Jesus ironically told the man not to tell anyone what He had done. I think Jesus did this because since the man had only just then received his hearing and speech, he had an incomplete understand of Jesus. He knew Jesus as a gracious miracle worker, but that is all. He needed to listen more and talk less, but he was a sinner, and it seems as though he preferred to exercise his gift of speech over his gift of hearing, even against Christ’s command to him. It was certainly true what the man said of Jesus, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” But this is an incomplete picture of Jesus.

The Law of God kills the sinner,
but Jesus gives Life to all who believe.

It is not necessarily good news for anyone that Jesus does everything well. If Jesus were any less than the merciful and holy God, He might still condemn us, saying, “Look! I lived the holy and obedient life. Why can’t you!” That would be true, and we would be condemned. This is why the Scripture says that the Law of God “Kills” and “brings death.” (2 Corinthians 3:6) It was necessary for our salvation that Jesus obeyed God’s Law and did everything well, however, it wasn’t His obedience to God’s Law that saved us from sin and its consequences. Jesus had to do more than do everything well – and that is exactly what Jesus did.

In order to be worthy to redeem us from our sins Jesus had to obey God’s Law just like any other person, and He had to do it perfectly so that He would not be condemned by His own sin. Romans 5:19 tells us, “Just as through the disobedience of the one man (Adam) the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man (Jesus) the many will be made righteous.” Jesus actively obeyed all of God the Father’s commandments. But Jesus didn’t do it for His own sake, He did it for us – to make us righteous in God’s sight.

Galatians 4:4-5 also tells us, “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” Jesus lived under God’s law like any other man, but He kept God’s law perfectly so that we might receive His heavenly inheritance as sons. We call this Christ’s Active Obedience. This is what the people were talking about when they said, “Jesus has done all things well.”

But in itself this doesn’t save us. Jesus had to go further to redeem us from the guilt of our sins. Jesus offered his life in exchange for ours. Jesus, in effect, said to the Father, “Don’t punish my brothers and sisters for the sins they committed against You. Punish me instead, and set them free from their sin.” This is what St. Paul described in Colossians 1:22, where he wrote, “(God) has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Since Jesus has taken the punishment for your sins, there is no longer anything standing between you and your heavenly Father.

Though Jesus is the Almighty God,
it was not without cost that He healed us from our sin.
This was the cost.

Jesus truly treats us as His brothers and sisters, as Hebrews 2:14 says “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil.”

Jesus not only shared in our humanity, He shared in our suffering because of our sin. If you notice in Mark 7:34 after Jesus touched the deaf man’s ears and tongue He looked to heaven and sighed. The word for “sigh” here is used elsewhere in the New Testament and is translated as “groan”, as in 2 Corinthians 5:4 which says, “For while we are still in this tent (of our sinful body), we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” We groan in our lives because sin causes us great sorrow and pain.

When Jesus healed this deaf man He groaned because He was taking the man’s suffering into Himself and giving him His life and healing. Though Jesus is the almighty God, it was not without cost that He healed people from their infirmities. It caused Him suffering. This is why God says in Isaiah 42:18-19 “Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind that you may see! Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord?”

Deafness and all our other bodily ailments come to us as a result of sin. When God made Adam and Eve they were perfectly healthy and immortal. Illness and infirmity and death only came after the fall into sin. Jesus rescues us from sin and all its consequences by taking our sin and its consequences into his body. This is why Scripture says in Isaiah 53, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.”

This is why when Jesus came to be baptized, John objected saying, “I need to be baptized by you.” But Jesus said, “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus fulfilled all righteousness not only by obeying God’s Law perfectly, and doing all things well, but also by taking the pain and guilt and all consequences of our sin into His body. St. Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The miracles Jesus did give us a glimpse into
what heaven is like where all believers
will be healed and glorified by His grace.

It hurt Jesus to heal people from their illnesses and from all the consequences of their sins. Yet, He did not let this stop Him from healing anyone, nor did it stop Him from going to the cross and suffering and dying there for the sins of the world, and for your sins. Jesus did this because He loves You more than He loves Himself. This is the love that our God has for us – that He would take up the pain and suffering of our sin and take it to His grave in order to save us from having to endure that suffering for eternity. This is why we, as God’s children, sorrow in our sins – not just for the suffering that it causes us, but for the suffering that we inflict on Jesus for the sake of our sins. God have mercy on us sinners.

God our heavenly Father does have mercy on us for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ. This miraculous healing and all of Christ’s miracles are a little taste of His heavenly kingdom where He will rescue us from death and restore us to perfect holiness and life and health forever. Jesus has taken the guilt and the pain of our sins into His body and has taken them to His grave. Yet when Jesus rose from the dead He rose victorious over sin and death, so that He might give us, His beloved children, the gift of eternal life with Him in paradise – without sin – without illness – without sorrow – without death. Jesus truly has done all things well for us and for our salvation that He might share with us the eternal riches of His heavenly Kingdom.

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