Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We find this story only in the Gospel according to Mark. We are in the Decapolis region, which means the 10 cities. On the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee, it was not the territory of the Jews, but the Greeks. In the regions of Tire and Sidon, today in Lebanon, Jesus revealed that he had come to save the Gentiles along with the Jews, in healing the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman.
It was not his first visit to the area. In Mark 5: 1-20, also Matthew 8: 28-34 and Luke 8: 28-39, Jesus cast out a demon in the territory of the Decapolis. Then, the deaf and stuttering man's friends had heard of Jesus and his miracles. Since those who cannot hear have difficulty learning to speak properly, it is likely that this man would have been limited from birth. Here, as in other accounts of Jesus' miracles, touch facilitated communication. The kingdom of God's grace is based on the Word of God that must be proclaimed through the tongue and received by the ears. With the ears we listen to the Word of God and we believe with the heart; with the tongue we confess our faith.
Saint Paul says this in our epistle (Romans 10: 9-17): “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Because with the heart it is believed for justice, but with the mouth confession is made for salvation. " However, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how will they preach if they are not sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who preach the glad tidings of good things! "
But, due to his disability, the deaf and stuttering man could not communicate in a normal way. First, Jesus took him by his hand. Second, He touched his ears with His fingers. Third, He moistened His finger in His mouth and touched the deaf and stutterer's tongue.
“And raising his eyes to heaven, he groaned, and said: Efata; which is: Be open. And instantly his ears were opened, and his tongue was loosed, and he spoke well. "
Notice, groan, or it could be translated with a sigh, and said "Ephata", an Aramaic word that was later used in the baptismal liturgies of the church to emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit to open the ears to the gospel. Romans 8:26 says thus, "But the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspeakable groans."
Also, in the ancient rite of baptism, the pastor blew on the baptized before making the sign of the cross on the forehead and chest.
And this is the point of the sacraments, the touch facilitated communication. If there are obstacles in hearing the Word, God can use the other human senses. The baby cannot understand all the Word that the pastor preaches, but can understand the embrace of the parents and godparents, the sign of the cross, and the pouring of water. And with that, the Spirit can kindle faith in your heart. And if the family takes the children to hear the preaching and then to receive the sacrament to feed the faith, he will grow in faith and could reflect on the day of his baptism as the day on which he received the promise of the eternal life. If the effective depends on the understanding of an infant, no one should be baptized, because no one understands the grace of God in total.
It is the same with the sacrament. The Lord instituted his sacrament in the physical presence of his disciples, to share the visible elements that he consecrated. Now, notice these words of Jesus: And taking the cup, having given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: Drink of it, all of you. "The cup" was the thanksgiving cup, which everyone shared around the table.
The Lord consecrated a single cup and offered his blood in a single cup for the remission of sins. The Augsburg Confession, Article XII reads thus, "In this text, with clear words, Christ commands regarding the chalice that all drink from it." The article talks about the practice of giving the laity the two species of the sacrament according to the Scriptures and the practice of the ancient church. In Article XII of the Apology for the Augsburg Confession, he asks, “Why is Christ's ordinance changed, especially if he himself calls it his testament? If it is not lawful to invalidate the testament of a man, much less lawful it will be to invalidate the testament of Christ. This principle also applies to various practices that they have introduced out of fear of the 21st century pandemic.
In our Lutheran churches, we consider the sacrament valid when it is administered as the Lord commanded his church. Therefore, we pay attention to the exact words in which Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament. He used the phrase "fruit of the vine" which always means wine. The Lord does not speak of the color of the wine, nor whether it was mixed with water or other attributes. But, we must not replace wine, the fermented product of grapes, with natural juice. With the true wine, we have every confidence that we receive the true blood of Christ.
The use of a single cup was the universal church practice until the 19th century, when an evangelical church in the United States began using individual cups for fear of another outbreak of the disease. Today the practice is common among evangelicals, but they reject at the first time the words of Jesus, "This is my body and this is my blood." Our Lutheran churches should have a better understanding. To receive the blood of Christ in individual cups or in packages it is to doubt the Word of the Lord that those who receive the cup in a worthy way receive a blessing. Furthermore, through 2,000 years, during times of terrible plagues, such as the Black Death, there is no evidence of the chalice as a source of infection.
However, we have suspended the celebration of the Eucharist until the peak of panic will have passed. The purpose is to avoid making the church a target for the fears of the crowd. We look forward to an announcement that the preschool and schools will open this month. If so, we will offer the sacrament again every Sunday on the first Sunday after opening. In any case, we are going to celebrate the sacrament on Reformation Day, because we have catechism students anticipating their first communion.
We have all the promise of eternal life in baptism and the Lord's Supper is to remember the Lord's death until He comes. In the Word and the sacraments, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.