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The visible elements of grace

Mark 7:31-37

Pastor David Ernst

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Aug 14, 2016 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I will repeat some of my talk on the sacraments with the youth this past week because our text for today makes a relevant point for this issue.

What are the two sacraments? Baptism and the sacrament. A sacrament is, first, something the Lord Jesus Christ commanded. Jesus commanded baptism and the Lord's Supper as well. Point two: The sacraments are means of grace, the theme of the national youth encounter. In baptism and the Lord's Supper we receive forgiveness of our sins and the promise of eternal life. The third point: A sacrament has a visible element. The visible element in baptism is the water linked with the Word of God. God's Word is the good news of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ found in the Bible. The visible elements in the Supper are the bread and wine with we receive the body and blood of Christ.

Why visible elements? Public preaching of the Word is also a means of grace in this regard. The Holy Spirit is active in preaching as we receive the good news of forgiveness and the promise of eternal life. If you can not hear the preacher, we may read this in the written Word. Why do we need rituals with visible elements?

Our text for today says: "And when he returned from the borders of Tyre, he passed through by Sidon to the Sea of ​​Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they brought a deaf and dumb man, and begged him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, got his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And then his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was untied, and he spoke well. "

How did the Lord treat this man who could not hear His words? He touched his ears and his tong to open his ears and enable his tongue. That is to say, he dealt with this man in a way he could understand.

We are creatures of five senses. God can use each to communicate His message to our hearts. In this case, Jesus took this man apart from the crowd in which he could not hear or understand anything and dealt with him in a special way.

Same with us. We are all deaf, dumb and blind spiritually. Jesus healed the sick and those who had physical weaknesses according to the prophecies of the Old Testament. As our Old Testament reading for today (Isaiah 29: 17-21) says. "And in that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and darkness" The prophets did not speak only of physical diseases but also our spiritual state. We can not hear the Word of God by our own strength, futhermoer we have no motivation to hear the Word of God, nor see His mysteries, His gifts among us. But the Holy Spirit has the power to open our ears and our tongues to praise God. And the Holy Spirit works this by means.

When we preach the Word of God, we preach both the law and the Gospel. Everyone must first hear the law to recognize their need for a Savior. After the law, we preach the good news of salvation in Christ. However, in the sacraments, we find the grace of God, not only as a historical fact, but in a special way for each of us in the water in our foreheads, in the bread and wine with the body and blood of Christ on our lips.

But we not receive the sacraments alone, but together with others because all who believe in Christ are the body of Christ. In the sacrament, we receive the grace each in a special way, also with othersbaptized in the name of Christ and who trust in the forgiveness of sins and believe in the presence of the body and blood, in, with and under the bread and wine.

Those who do not believe in these things not receive a blessing in the sacrament, but condemnation. So, the sacrament is not meant to generate the friendship between us and others as a family dinner where we invite those who are not part of the circle, it is only for those who have been baptized, examined and absolved of their sins.

How good it is tat the Lord has dealt with us as with the deaf and dumb man! In a special way we receive the blessing to live as children of God in the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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