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Sermon on Mark 7 - The Healing of the Deaf Man

EVERYONE AGREES THAT READING THE BIBLE IS A GOOD THING. SOME WOULD GO SO FAR AS TO SAY THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW YOU READ THE BIBLE— IT ONLY MATTERS THAT YOU READ THE BIBLE.

BUT IT MATTERS TO ME HOW THE BIBLE IS READ, BECAUSE THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO READ THE BIBLE—

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE AS THE HISTORICAL RECORD OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED.

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE AS PROPHECY OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN.

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE AS A RULE BOOK, OR LAW BOOK.

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE AS METAPHOR.

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE VERSE BY VERSE.

·        SOME READ THE BIBLE TOPICALLY, WITH NAVE’S TOPICAL BIBLE, AND THE THOMPSON CHAIN REFERENCE.               

BUT ONE OF THE NEW WAYS TO READ IT IS PERHAPS THE WAY IT WAS READ ORIGINALLY—AS LITERATURE. READING THE BIBLE AS LITERATURE MEANS A COUPLE OF THINGS:

·        ONE IS THE YOU READ THE WHOLE BOOK, AND NOT JUST A VERSE OR A STORY OUT OF IT.

·        ANOTHER IS THAT YOU READ A STORY IN THE CONTEXT OF THAT BOOK, AND LET THE AUTHOR TELL THE STORY AS HE CHOOSES TO DO.

·        BUILD A KIND OF RAPPORT WITH THE AUTHOR, SEEING HOW HIS TELLING OF THE STORY IS UNIQUE AND WHAT SPECIAL INTERESTS HE OR SHE MAY HAVE.

WITH THE GOSPELS MATTHEW, MARK, AND LUKE ARE SO MUCH ALIKE THAT IT IS ASSUMED BY MOST SCHOLARS THAT MATTHEW AND LUKE USED MARK AS A SOURCE FOR THEIR TELLING OF THE STORY. 90% OF MARK IS RETOLD IN MATTHEW’S GOSPEL.       MOST OF IT IS ALSO RETOLD IN LUKE’S GOSPEL, EXCEPT FOR PARTS OF MARK 7 AND 8, AND NONE OF IT IS IN LUKE. THIS IS REFERRED TO AS SCHOLARS AS THE GREAT OMISSION,        AND SOME HAVE SUGGESTED THAT LUKE’S COPY OF MARK MAY HAVE BEEN MISSING A PAGE OR TWO.

 BUT IT IS IN THE PART OF MARK—CHAPTERS 7 & 8 THAT IS OMITTED FROM LUKE ALTOGETHER THAT WE FIND TWO STORIES ABOUT JESUS THAT WERE ALSO LEFT OUT OF MATTHEW.         AND THAT IS SIGNIFICANT, BECAUSE THERE ARE ONLY FOUR STORIES ABOUT JESUS IN MARK THAT ARE NOT RETOLD IN MATTHEW. ONLY FOUR.

·        THE STORY IN CHAPTER 3 WHERE JESUS’ FAMILY COMES AND TRIES TO TAKE HIM AWAY WHEN PEOPLE THOUGHT HE WAS CRAZY.

·        THE STORY IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, WHERE THE AUTHORITIES TRY TO GRAB A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS WITH JESUS, AND THE PULL AWAY THE SHEET HE WAS WRAPPED IN AND HE RUNS AWAY NAKED.

AND THESE TWO HEALING STORIES. ABOUT JESUS HEALING THE DEAF MAN, AND ABOUT JESUS HEALING THE BLIND MAN.

WHY THESE TWO STORIES? WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THEM THAT MADE THEM UNSUITABLE TO MATTHEW, AND CAUSED THEM TO BE THE ONLY HEALING STORIES THAT ARE FOUND ONLY IN MARK, AND WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO TELL US TODAY AS WE COME TO PRAY FOR HEALING FOR OURSELVES AND FOR OTHERS?

THE FIRST STORY IS THE HEALING OF THE DEAF MAN. THE HEALING OF DEAFNESS IS NOT A COMMON MIRACLE IN THE GOSPELS. EVEN THOUGH IT HAD BE PROPHESIED, IN ISAIAH 35,

          THE PROPHET SAYS THAT GOD WILL COME TO SAVE YOU,

                   AND THEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND SHALL BE OPENED,

                             AND THE EARS OF THE DEAF UNSTOPPED.

                   THEN THE LAME SHALL LEAP LIKE A DEER,

                             AND THE TONGUE OF THE SPEECHLESS SING FOR JOY.

AND IN BOTH MATTHEW AND LUKE, JESUS REASSURES THE DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST THAT HE IS THE ONE JOHN HAD LOOKED FOR, BECAUSE THE BLIND SEE, THE LAME WALK, LEPERS ARE CLEANSED, THE DEAF HEAR, THE DEAD ARE RAISED, AND THE POOR HAVE GOOD NEWS ADDRESSED TO THEM.

BUT THERE ARE ONLY TWO STORIES OF JESUS HEALING ANYONE WHO IS DEAF. THIS ONE, AND THE ONE ABOUT THE MAN WHOSE SON HAS A DEMON THAT CAUSES SEIZURES, AND THAT TRIES TO KILL HIM AND THE DEMON WON’T LET THE BOY HEAR OR SPEAK. BUT THIS IS THE ONLY CASE WHERE THE PROBLEM IS DEAFNESS. ISN’T THAT AMAZING?

BUT IT SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISING. WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DEAFNESS IN OUR WORLD. MANY PEOPLE ARE ASHAMED TO WEAR A HEARING AID.

THEY DON’T MIND WEARING GLASSES TO HELP THEM SEE,

BUT A HEARING AID TO HELP THEM HEAR? SOME REFUSE COMPLETELY. I’M NOT SURE WHY. WE TEND TO THINK OF LOSS OF HEARING AS A SIGN OF AGING, OR EVEN AS A NORMAL PART OF AGING. IT’S LIKE THAT PAIN WE HAVE IN THE JOINTS AS WE GET OLDER. NOTHING MUCH TO DO ABOUT IT. NOTHING ABNORMAL ABOUT IT. JUST DEAL WITH IT.

WHENEVER I READ THIS STORY, I THINK ABOUT MARY (NOT HER REAL NAME), WHO WAS PROFOUNDLY DEAF FROM BIRTH. SHE NEVER WENT TO SPECIAL SCHOOLS, NEVER LEARNED SIGN LANGUAGE, NEVER HAD SPEECH THERAPY. SHE LIVED ON A COUNTRY ROAD WITH HER MOTHER, UNTIL HER MOTHER DIED AT AGE 93. AND WHEN HER MOTHER DIED, SOMEONE ASKED, WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO POOR MARY NOW THAT HER MOTHER CANNOT TAKE CARE OF HER? AND THE TRUTH WAS THAT MARY HAD BEEN TAKING CARE OF HER MOTHER FOR DECADES. SHE HAD BEEN CLEANING THE HOUSE, KEEPING THE YARD, RAISING THE GARDEN, BUT BECAUSE SHE WAS DEAF, PEOPLE THOUGHT SHE WAS SIMPLE, THOUGHT SHE WAS IN NEED OF HER MOTHER BEING HER CAREGIVER.

WE DON’T QUITE KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH DEAFNESS. BUT JESUS DID. JESUS WENT TO GREAT PAINS TO COMMUNICATE WITH THIS MAN WHO COULD NOT HEAR AND COULD NOT SPEAK. JESUS TOOK THE MAN ASIDE, AWAY FROM THE CROWDS. AND HE PUT HIS FINGERS INTO THE MAN’S EARS,   TO SHOW HIM THAT HE KNEW WHAT THE PROBLEM WAS. AND THEN JESUS SPAT—BECAUSE HEALERS IN THAT DAY OFTEN USED SPITTLE IN THEIR HEALINGS. AND JESUS TOUCHED HIS TONGUE—ASSURING HIM THAT HE UNDERSTOOD, AND THAT HE WAS GOING TO HEAL HIM. AND THEN HE LOOKED TO HEAVEN, AND SIGHED, AND CRIED EPHPHATHA!  “BE OPENED!”,

AND THOSE DEAF EARS HEARD HIM, AND THEY WERE OPENED, AND THE MAN COULD HEAR AND SPEAK.

THE OTHER CASE, THE HEALING OF THE BLIND MAN, IS THE ONLY CASE WHEN THE HEALING DOES QUITE TAKE ON THE FIRST TRY. THE HEALING TAKES TIME, AND PATIENCE TO RECEIVE THE FULL BENEFIT. MARK TELLS THE STORY, AND SOME SCHOLARS THINK THIS IS A METAPHOR MARK USES TO SHOW HOW THE DISCIPLES WERE GRADUALLY COMING TO SEE WHO JESUS IS. AND IT MAY BE. IT MAY ALSO BE THAT THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED, AND THAT THE GOSPEL WRITERS LEFT THE STORY OUT BECAUSE IT WAS MESSY. JESUS HAD TO HAVE A SECOND TRY AT IT. AND WE DON’T LIKE THAT.

WE WANT OUR MEDICINE TO BE QUICK AND EFFECTIVE. WE WANT OUR MIRACLES TO BE QUICK AND STRAIGHTFORWARD. HOW COULD THEY BE OTHERWISE? YET HERE THE STORY IS, DOCUMENTING A PROCESS THROUGH WHICH THIS MAN CAME TO SEE, THROUGH WHICH HE CAME TO BE HEALED, AND TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS BEING DONE FOR HIM.

TO ME, THAT IS THE WAY HEALING OFTEN TAKES PLACE. IT COMES IN STEPS.

GRIEF IS WELL DOCUMENTED AS GOING THROUGH STAGES, DENIAL, ANGER, BARGAINING, ON THE WAY TO ACCEPTANCE. BUT ITS NOT THAT CLEAN. WE DO THEM ALL AT ONCE,   AND GRIEF IS OFTEN A PART OF ILLNESS. HEALING IS A PROCESS. BECAUSE HEALING TAKES PLACE IN RELATIONSHIP, AND RELATIONSHIPS GROW IF THEY ARE ALIVE.

I REMEMBER A TEACHER ONCE SAID THAT HE THOUGHT CONVERSION EXPERIENCES WERE GREAT, BUT THAT THERE SHOULD BE AN EXPIRATION DATE ON THEM. AFTER SIX MONTHS OR SO, YOU SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING MORE THAN THAT CONVERSION. IF YOUR FAITH WAS GROWING, YOUR TESTIMONY SHOULD GROW TOO.

I THINK THAT IS AN EXCELLENT POINT, AND IN WORLD THAT LIKES OUR INTERNET FAST AND FASTER, OUR MICROWAVES FAST AND FASTER, OUR FAST FOOD FASTER AND FASTEST, WE STILL NEED REMINDING THAT SOMETHING CAN GROW. AND FAITH IS ONE OF THE GIFTS THAT GROWS AND DEVELOPS, AND CHANGES US TO SEE GOD’S WORK IN US AND IN THE WORLD.

MAYBE THE WORLD HAS ALWAYS HAD A PROBLEM LIKE OURS. MAYBE THAT IS WHY THESE TWO STORIES IN MARK WERE NOT CLAIMED AND RETOLD BY OTHER GOSPEL WRITERS, BUT THEY STAND TO TEACH US OF THE MERCY OF OUR GOD, AND OF THE GIFT OF FAITH GROWING IN US, AND HELPING US TO CLAIM THE BLESSINGS OF ALMIGHTY GOD.

IN THE NAME OF JESUS.

          AMEN.

         

 


For More Information Contact:

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
1908 Statesville Ave. Salisbury  NC  28144-2035
Tel: 704-636-8345
E-mail: click here

                                                                                       

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Last modified: 03/24/14