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"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. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain." Mark 7:32-35

Why did Jesus take this man aside from the crowd, put His fingers in the man's ears, spit, touch his tongue, look up to heaven and sigh and then say "ephphatha," which means "be opened"? Have you thought about this?

Was this some magical incantation which Jesus did to heal this man? Or, was Jesus simply communicating through means what it was He was about to do for this deaf and partially mute man?

Think about it. How could Jesus communicate to this man what He was about to do for him? He couldn't hear, so additional communication was necessary.

Jesus was about to open his ears so he could hear. So, Jesus put His fingers in the man's ears. He was about to unloose this man's tongue, so he spit, drawing attention to the mouth and then touched his tongue. By what power was Jesus about to do this miracle? By the power of God in heaven, and so Jesus looked up to heaven. Jesus sighed, indicating He was about to call upon the power of God in prayer. He then said, "ephphatha," which means, "be opened," and the man's ears were opened so that he could hear and his tongue loosed so that he could speak plainly.

And how does God deal with us who are dead in our trespasses and sins (cf. Eph. 2:1ff.), deaf to His Word and blind to the promises of the Gospel? He calls men to preach and apply God's Word to us, rebuking our sins and sinfulness and offering and assuring to us the blessings of forgiveness of sins and life eternal which Christ won for us when He fulfilled all righteousness and then suffered and died on the cross, making full atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world and rising again in victory (cf. 1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:18ff.; 2:21ff.; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; A.C. V).

And, sometimes, when we are troubled over our sins, this is done in private confession and absolution. We confess our sins to the pastor and the pastor, in the name and stead of Christ, absolves and forgives our sins for Jesus' sake (cf. James 5:16; John 20:22-23).

In the waters of Baptism, God assures us that our sins have indeed been washed away and that we have become children of God through faith in Christ Jesus (cf. Titus 3:3-7; Col. 2:11ff., Eph. 5:25ff.; Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26ff.).

In the Lord's Supper, Christ gives us to eat and drink of His very body and blood which were given and shed for us upon the cross for our salvation (cf. Matt. 26:26-28; 1 Cor. 11:23ff.). And He does so that we might be assured that, as partakers of His atoning sacrifice, we also are partakers of the blessings He won for us with His atoning sacrifice.

Thus, Jesus doesn't just choose to save us and put His hand over us from heaven and make us clean; He reaches out to us with the Gospel and Sacraments, using preachers He has sent to share with us individually and personally, as well as corporately, the blessings of forgiveness of sins and eternal life He won for us when He died on the cross for all sins and rose again.

Why? He desires that we grasp in faith what He has done for us and still does for us by the gracious working of His Holy Spirit. He desires that we truly believe and take comfort in the Gospel, being assured that indeed our sins are forgiven in Christ Jesus and that He will not condemn us in the final judgment but give to us the everlasting joys of heaven (cf. John 5:24).

Our Lord Jesus uses the preaching of the Gospel and the right administration of His Sacraments that we might be assured that, no matter how great our sins have been, we have in Christ a Savior. Through faith in Christ Jesus, we sinners are acceptable in God's sight; in Him "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph. 1:6,7).

God, grant to us such faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Devotion by Randy Moll. Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

Religion on 09/11/2019

Print Headline: God uses means to grant us forgiveness

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