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12th after Trinity

Mark 7:31-37

Rev. Andrew Eckert

1 year series
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sun, Sep 3, 2017 

A question that may come up with this story of healing a deaf man is why Christ told the people not to tell anyone about the miracle. 

Although the text itself does not say why, there are a variety of reasons why He may have tried to keep it quiet.

One reason is that He may have wanted to avoid being drawn into another extended period of healing.  He may have needed to follow His purpose to do other things at this time.  Ultimately, His goal was not to draw crowds to His miracles, but to go to Golgotha to pay for our sins.

Another reason may have been that, in His state of humiliation, He wanted widespread, public announcement of His miracles to wait until after His earthly work was complete.  As the humble Messiah, He wanted to avoid any appearance of self-serving vanity.

Another possible reason He asked people not to speak of His miracle was that He wanted to avoid facing too much opposition by the Jewish leaders too soon in His ministry.  A few verses later the Pharisees demanded a sign, which He refused to do.

Or perhaps He did not want the people rioting due to earthly ideas of messianic kingship.  After being drawn by the spectacle of the miracle, they might have tried to force Him to become a political ruler to overthrow the Romans.  This also was not His purpose.

A reason to ask them to tell no one that is probably not true is that He was using reverse psychology to get them to spread His fame even more.  At first glance this may make sense.  The text says that the more He asked them to be quiet, the more they zealously proclaimed the news.  But this would involve deceptiveness on the part of Christ.  He would be telling them one thing when He wanted the opposite.  It seems unlikely that Christ would resort to such trickery.

Regardless of the true reason why Christ did it, it is more important to ask who these people were who ignored His words to spread the information about the miracle.  Here the answer to the question is contained in the question.  They are the kind of people who ignore what Christ says, yet get very excited about Him and like to speak about Him.  These are the kinds of people that disobey Christ, yet speak of Him to others.

You may meet people who are like this disobedient crowd.  People who say they are spiritual but not religious echo the same idea.  They love Christ, but they do not want to be tied down by what they see as legalism.  What constitutes legalism is pretty much up to their emotions to decide.  So they ignore large chunks of Godís Word that they do not like, yet still want to be identified as Christians.

Some people want to tell you about Christ and what He has done in their life.  He helped them to quit smoking, or He helped them find a twenty dollar bill that they lost.  He helped them get through a really difficult time in their life.  But they have little or no interest in the commands of Christ.  They are all about telling how great Christ, their Friend, is.  These are also part of the disobedient crowd.

Some people are all about miracles.  Something amazing happened, and that is how they know that Christ loves them.  They will share their miracle story with you to convince you that God exists.  But they may have little or no grasp on the contents of the Ten Commandments.

We may admire the disobedient crowd for their zealous witness.  They get emotional and excited over something Christ has done.  But you may notice that what they are excited about is not His death and resurrection for their salvation.

What kind of Christ does the disobedient crowd have?  To them, He is a miracle worker; a compassionate friend; a healer; the comforting Christ; or the spectacular Christ.  These are all true aspects of the real Lord Jesus.  Yet when we put those aspects at the center of who Christ is, then we miss the true glory of the suffering and death of Christ.  If we focus too much on Jesus as our Friend, then we miss out on the fact that we are terrible sinners who needed atonement.  We miss out on repentance.  At best, these things will be pushed far into the background to make room for Christ the miracle worker.  At worst, they are left out completely.

So this disobedient crowd enthusiastically speaks out about the Christ they love, but understands little of the Law of God or the redemption Christ won for us.  Notice the ironic contrast: Christ made the man who is mute able to speak.  Yet those whom He wanted to be silent speak all the more.

We also sometimes like to dwell upon the aspects of Christ that we like best.  We like to speak about those things, yet leave out or deemphasize the wonderful and glorious work that should be at the center of who Christ is.  We do not like to touch upon the harsh aspects of the Law (and it is harsh at times).  When speaking with others, we may not want to tell them that Christ condemns this or that.  Sometimes we act like we are mute when we should speak.

This is because, deep down, the old Adam in us greatly prefers the same kind of nice, soft Christ that the disobedient crowd likes.  He never condemns sin harshly.  He never suffers horrifically.  He is our best friend when we need Him, and that is pretty much it.

But the nice, soft Christ can save no one.  By Godís grace, we have been called to faith in the true Lord who came to suffer.  We trust in His agonizing passion and awful death because they are the atonement price for the terrible guilt of our sins.  This is the true Christ who overturned tables and drove people out with a whip.  He was beaten, He bled, He cried out loudly in anguish and darkness.

This is our Christ, the Christ of Scripture.  Yes, He did miracles.  But these were not the main thing.  They were to point to His identity and work as Messiah.

Even though He has died for our salvation, that does not mean that we ignore His voice in the Law.  It is precisely because He has died for us that we listen to what He wants us to do and not do.

But we never trust in our obedience.  We trust in the Man from Nazareth and His work for us.  He has done all things well, from His conception in the Blessed Virginís womb, to the moment He breathed His last on the dark hill outside Jerusalem.  He never failed.  He has even opened our ears to hear and believe His Word, so that we have received the salvation that He won for us.

And with open mouths we praise His holy Name, to whom belongs all glory and honor and power and might.  Amen.

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