Sunday, August 22, 2010

Trinity 12: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 29:17-24 Isn’t it yet a very little while, and Lebanon will be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field will be regarded as a forest? In that day, the deaf will hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind will see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The humble also will increase their joy in Yahweh, and the poor among men will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the ruthless is brought to nothing, and the scoffer ceases, and all those who are alert to do evil are cut off— who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and lay a snare for the arbiter in the gate, and who deprive the innocent of justice with false testimony. Therefore thus says Yahweh, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no longer be ashamed, neither shall his face grow pale. But when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in the midst of him, they will sanctify my name. Yes, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. They also who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will receive instruction.”

2 Corinthians 3:4-11 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God; not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; who also made us sufficient as servants of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away: won’t service of the Spirit be with much more glory? For if the service of condemnation has glory, the service of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For most certainly that which has been made glorious has not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasses. For if that which passes away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.

Mark 7:31-37 Again he departed from the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and came to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the region of Decapolis. They brought to him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. They begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside from the multitude, privately, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat, and touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was released, and he spoke clearly. He commanded them that they should tell no one, but the more he commanded them, so much the more widely they proclaimed it. They were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes even the deaf hear, and the mute speak!”

Jesus heals the deaf man, but not in a respectable way. A simple wave of the hand may have been acceptable but Jesus sticks his fingers in the guy's ears, spat and then sticks it on the guy's tongue. It often pleases God to work through the use of material objects and we tend to find this offensive. We are closet gnostics who regard matter as offensive. Naaman the leper thought the whole dipping in the Jordan business was silly and useless and many in the church today think the same thing about baptism. But it pleases God to work this way. We are not just spirits trapped inside of evil, useless bodies waiting for our escape into the spirit world. Our bodies are part of who we are and Christ came to redeem your entire person. God does not save us by making us less material. Instead, God comes and joins us in our human bodies. Jesus sighed. He breathed in this man's sickness and took it upon Himself. The hands of God that were used to create man were used to open this man's ears. The finger of God that wrote the ten words on the tablets that were given to Moses touched the tongue of this man and gave him speech.

God still works through material objects. Through His Word joined to the water God washes away your sins. In the Lord's Supper He places His very body upon our tongues and gives you His blood to drink for the forgiveness of your sins. Jesus works faith in us and gives us ears to hear and opens our lips to declare His praise.

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