Looking Humbly or Looking Heavenward? Yes.
33 And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.”
There’s an interesting dichotomy between Jesus here and the tax collector and his good confession last week (Luke 18:9-14). The tax collector cannot imagine looking up to heaven because of his sin and his guilt and shame. Jesus however prays looking heavenward because he knows he has no sin or shame. He is perfect. However, Jesus says the tax collector went home justified. That is, he can look heavenward because God is at peace with him and will hear both his confession of sin and his prayer.
Recognize your sin, deny yourself, become humble in how you think about life, realizing that He is God and that you are not. Bow your head, not imagining that you could look heavenward and confess that you need His mercy. Today, Jesus gives you the truth that you are in him and that you can look heavenward boldly because your sin is not seen. It has been wiped away. Your prayers are heard. So, be bold in your prayers. Be bold in your speaking. However, in order for us to do this, we must first be bold in our hearing. Our text teaches us this. Notice the problem of the man that Jesus comes to heal.
Hearing Well Helps us Speak Well
32 Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech,
Why did he have a speech impediment? Because he couldn’t hear well. The way you hear affects the way you speak. This too, teaches us about the Christian faith. You cannot confess the truth unless you hear the truth. You cannot live in love unless you have first heard His love. That is the order of the divine service – hearing well and then in confessing the goodness of God. You receive in your ears and in your mouth His gifts and then you proclaim, “O give thanks to the Lord for he is good and his mercy endures forever.”
Be bold in your confession as a Christian in the midst of a world that confesses so many things that are not Christian. But also be bold in your hearing. Believe it. If you do not hear well you cannot speak well. When you hear well of who God is for you and what he thinks of you, you can proclaim something that doesn’t always seem right, “He has done all things well.” That is a true statement. God is good. It does not always seem that way because we are not God. But that statement is true no matter what we see. When we are seeing things contrary to that, our Lord gives us His word tells us to listen well, hear well so that we can speak well
Here’s a few of examples. When you hear this – I am poor and needy (Psalm 70), you speak well – Make haste, O God to deliver me. Make haste to help me, O Lord (Psalm 70). We need God’s help and we need it fast.
When you hear this – 5(B) Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us (2 Cor. 3), you speak well – 4(A) Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God… our sufficiency is from God. You are sufficient, you are enough to others, you measure up to God’s demands, because of Christ
When you hear this – God has been faithful to you, paid for all your sins and Jesus has rendered you righteous in the Father’s sight – all by His gift (Collect of the Day). You desire you body, mouth and life to render true and laudable service (Collect of the Day). You do good works because God has made you good and given you a new heart and new desires.
Our Freedom Cost Jesus
Our text makes another point that we hear and confess – our freedom has cost Jesus. Jesus sighed or groaned (Mark 7:34) before healing this deaf and mute man.
Jesus groans before healing this man. He groans for this man because this man feels loneliness, seclusion and the brokenness of this world. He groans because this man lives in a creation that is groaning, waiting for its redemption. He knows this man’s suffering as He knows yours. But He also groans for Himself because He knows that healing this man will cost Him.
Jesus’ miracles always come at a cost. Your sins are forgiven and given freely to you only because they came at great cost to Him. Every healing that Jesus does is not because Jesus simply takes the brokenness away and tosses it into the open universe never to be seen again but because He takes that brokenness into himself (Matthew 8:17; Isaiah 53:4 – This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.)
He does this knowing that it will hurt him but also knowing that he can take it. He can take God’s wrath and condemnation and answer with His innocence and purity. He can die with our sins because He knows He can raise Himself up for our justification. Your sin and shame is not on you, you cannot handle the load. You cannot handle the load of taking care of yourself and your family and providing everything you need. Jesus can. Jesus does. It cost him, but is free to you. Hear it well. Speak it well. Pray it well. You can be bold, looking toward heaven as your home, because you are in Christ. Amen.