Take a Survey

Help support this site:

Sermon List

Login or Register

Luther Sayings

Terms of Use


Newsletter Articles or other writings

BOC readings - 3 year

BOC readings - 1 year

Bible in One Year

Bible in Two Years

5 mins with Luther


Sermon List       Other sermons by J. Batchelor       Notify me when J. Batchelor posts sermons
      RSS feed for J. Batchelor       RSS feed for all sermons

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Mark 7:24–37

James T. Batchelor

Pentecost 15, Proper 18, series B
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Sun, Sep 6, 2015 

Every so often, the technical training I received as an engineer causes me to marvel at the wonders of Almighty God.  This starts right off in Genesis 1.  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. (Genesis 1:13) There is just all kinds of amazing stuff happening in these few short verses.

When I consider that simple phrase, God said, Let there be light, I have to wonder how that happened.  Talking normally travels as sound from mouth to ear.  Sound can travel in solids, liquids, and gasses, but it cannot travel in a vacuum.  Never the less, when God said, Let there be light, God had not yet created any solids, liquids, or gasses to carry His voice.  Furthermore, there were no ears to hear His voice.  Even the light that He called forth did not yet exist.

Think about it.  God spoke when there was nothing to carry His voice.  He spoke to something that did not exist.  Never the less, when He spoke, the thing He commanded happened.  God said, Let there be light, and there was light.  This shows that Gods Word has power and authority that far exceeds our understanding.

Most of the time we take the power of the Word of God for granted.  How often do we think that light, air, water, the earth beneath our feet, gravity, and everything else that we have in our existence is there because God said it should be there.  It is as the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to the Hebrews to say, Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:13) and By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:3) The Bible makes it very clear that the universe exists because of the power of the Word of God.

The Gospel according to John begins by telling us that this very Word of God entered our world and took on human flesh in order to make us Sons of God.  The Holy Spirit inspired John to write, The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14) and To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:1213) These words teach us that Jesus is the very Word of God in human flesh who has come to make us His adopted brothers and sisters and children of God.

The events we recently heard about in this mornings Gospel tell us even more about the power of this Word of God in human flesh.  Todays reading actually gives us two signs of His power.  He drove a demon out of a daughter, and He gave hearing and speech to a deaf man.  The Holy Spirit inspired Mark to inform us that both of these signs happened in Gentile territory the region of Tyre and Sidon, and the region of the Decapolis.  These two accounts show us that Jesus did not just come to save the Jews, but He also came to save Gentiles.

In the second of these two signs, Jesus, who is the Word of God, once again demonstrated that His word is still able to command something that does not exist.  The mans hearing did not exist.  Never the less, Jesus spoke to him.  He said to him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. (Mark 7:3435) In the beginning, God spoke to the light that did not exist and the light came into being.  In the Gospel we recently heard, God spoke to hearing that did not exist and it also came into being.

Note that Jesus did not simply give the sense of hearing to the man.  If that was all He did, then the man would have had to listen to people for a long time before he could interpret the sounds as words.  It would take even more time for this man to learn to reproduce those words with clear speech.  When Jesus gave hearing to the man, He did not just give the sense of hearing, but He also gave him the understanding to hear and speak intelligent words.  Jesus made it as though this man had had a sense of hearing for his entire life.

It is by the Word of His power that Jesus creates, and His creation is very good.  It is by the Word of His power that Jesus heals, and His healing is complete.  It is by the word of His power that Jesus saves, and His salvation is eternal.

The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to explain the connection between salvation and the word of God as he wrote to the church in Rome.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news! 17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:1315, 17) The Word of Christ speaks to a faith that does not exist and brings it into being.  It is this faith that receives the eternal salvation that Jesus earned for us on the cross.

There is yet another way that we see the power of Gods Word in todays Gospel.  This time, it is the power of Gods Word in the mouth of people.  How did the woman know that Jesus was able to drive the demon out of her daughter?  How did the friends know that Jesus was able to give hearing to the deaf man?  Jesus did not spend a lot of time in these Gentile areas.  Someone, somewhere, somehow had shared the Word of God with these people.  Somehow the story of Jesus had reached clear up to the area of Tyre and Sidon.  Somehow the story of Jesus had traveled clear over to the area of the Decapolis.  Even if it was only neighborhood gossip, the Holy Spirit had used the Word of God to bring this woman to Jesus to ask help for her daughter the Holy Spirit used the Word of God to cause these friends to bring the deaf man to Jesus.

You are also here in this building by the power of the Word of God.  Faithful brothers and sisters shared the Word of God with their friends and their sons and their daughters.  From mouth to ear, across the lands, down through the generations, the Word of God spread and the Holy Spirit used that Word to work faith in those who heard it.  Eventually the power of that word came to your ear.  That is the reason you are here in this place to receive the gifts that Jesus purchased for you with His holy precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.

The Holy Spirit eliminates barriers with the Word and tells us of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.  As the Holy Spirit works through the Word we learn that our sin separates us from God, but that Jesus sacrifice on the cross takes away our sins.  We learn that His resurrection from the dead opens up the way to everlasting life.  Through the Word, Christ reveals Himself to us.  In that revelation, He also reveals the Father and the Holy Spirit and shows us Gods salvation.  The Holy Spirit uses this knowledge to make that salvation personal through His gift of faith.

When the Holy Spirit joins the Word to the water of Holy Baptism, He joins us to Christ in that crucifixion so that the price He paid for sin is credited to us.  By joining us to the death of Christ, the Holy Spirit also joins us to His resurrection.  We become brothers of Christ and sons of God.  We have the right and privilege to come before God, confess our sins, and receive the enduring comfort of the forgiveness of our sins.  We become heirs to eternal life in heaven.

When the Holy Spirit joins the Word to bread and wine, Jesus Himself comes to us in the body He gave for us and in the blood He shed for us.  As we take Him into our mouths, He feeds our souls.  He strengthens our faith in Him.  He has promised us that this sacrament is ours for the forgiveness of sins and with the forgiveness of sins comes life and salvation.

Gods process for sustaining Christs church in this world is amazing.  Just as the mother pleaded for her daughter just as friends brought the deaf man to Jesus, so also God works through His people to bring His Word into our lives.  He brings this word to our ears.  He uses the wet Word of Holy Baptism to join us to Christ.  Then the Word made flesh comes to us in the Bread and Wine of the Lords Table.  The Holy Spirit works through this Word to work faith in us and bring us into the Church.

Now that we have the Word of God, we also have the authority to ask people to do the impossible.  We can tell people about Jesus and the work He did to earn salvation for them.  Then we can invite people and say, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31) Even though no one can believe in Jesus Christ by their own reason or strength, we trust the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit will work wherever the Word of God is present.  The Augsburg Confession expresses this very well.  Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given. He works faith, when and where it pleases God, in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christs sake.  This happens not through our own merits, but for Christs sake. (AC: I, art. v)

As the Holy Spirit sustains us in the one, true faith, He sends us into the world to confess the faith he has given to us and so in this way to spread His Word throughout the World.  As we confess our faith to family, friends, associates, and all the other people in our lives, He has promised to use our confession to bring others before Christ for healing the healing that produces faith and delivers forgiveness.  In this amazingly crazy way, the Word of Christ still speaks to a faith that does not exist and brings it into being.  Amen

Please quote from my sermons freely. I expect people to copy my sermons or I wouldn't put them on a site like this. I only ask that you quote accurately if you attribute anything to me. Should you decide to contact me, I would be very interested in knowing where you are. Please include the name of your city, state or province, and country when contacting me.

Send James T. Batchelor an email.

Unique Visitors: