Worship Helps for Pentecost 16

Title: Jesus Heals a Deaf Man
Artist: Walter Rane

In this painting, Rane emphasizes the actual healing process rather than who is performing the miracle. The focus is upon the two sets of hands: Christ's lovingly stretched forth in tenderness, the blind man's twisted and anxious while being healed, thereby capturing the blind man's hope of being released from a pitiable condition. Rane used sandpaper to scrub out the background to eliminate distractions so the viewer focuses on the two main figures.

Worship Theme: If you can hear, you probably take your sense of hearing for granted.  Yet what a wonderful gift from God your sense of hearing is!  You can hear how Jesus died for you.  You can receive not just into your ears, but deep inside you, the whole wondrous message of God’s rescue.  You can hear the same good news Adam and Noah heard, the same good news Isaiah, Peter and Jesus preached—preached even to a man who previously had been a deaf-mute.

Old Testament: Isaiah 35:4-7a Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7 The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.

1. In chapter 34 Isaiah foretold horrors – total destruction for all nations, all the stars of heaven being dissolved and the sky rolling up like a scroll.  Now what does Isaiah describe?  That is, if chapter 34 pictures Judgment Day, what will follow Judgment Day (according to chapter 35)?

2. What will happen to the blind and deaf specifically? (See 35:5)

Epistle: Acts 3:1-10 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer-- at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

3. How did Peter and John give the lame man ability to walk? (See 3:6)

4. How did the man respond to his healing?

Gospel: Mark 7:31-37 Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. 32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. 33 After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spit and touched the man's tongue. 34 He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, "Ephphatha!" (which means, "Be opened!"). 35 At this, the man's ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. 36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. 37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. "He has done everything well," they said. "He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

5. Why does Jesus use sign language as he heals the deaf man?

6. Once healed, the deaf man “spoke clearly.” What is the significance? 

7. Why did Jesus not want them to tell anyone about the miracle that just had taken place?


Answers:
1. After Judgment Day, everything ruined will be restored in general.  The ultimate restoration (35:8-10) will be when all of the Lord’s people walk the Way of Holiness.  They will re-enter God’s eternal city, the New Jerusalem, with great gladness as sorrow and sighing flee away.

2. Isaiah says that the blind will see and the deaf will hear.

3. Peter and John said to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

4. The formerly lame man went into the temple courts, walking and jumping and praising God.  Note that he did not go around touting Peter and John.  They were not the real cause of the healing.  God was, through his risen Son, Jesus.  The man could not have been more certain.

5. Jesus probably used sign language because the poor man could not have understood what Jesus was doing if he had spoken to him.  Jesus used sign language to help the deaf man gather what was about to happen and to give him faith in Jesus.

6. The fact that the deaf man spoke clearly after Jesus healed him shows that Jesus healed the man perfectly. The deaf man did not have to go to a speech therapist to learn how to pronounce words.

7. Jesus told people not to tell anyone about this miraculous healing because he did not want fame and popularity for his miraculous healing. Rather, he wanted people to talk about him as the Son of God and their Savior from sin.


Putting your faith into action
Take care of yourself. Don’t let the world pollute your thinking. Keep moral garbage out of your diet. Keep your spirit pure. This is good advice for Christian stewards. We are to be constantly evaluating our relationship to God and to others, especially to others who hold a common faith in the Lord. God’s Word serves as a mirror into which we can peer to examine ourselves and how we manage our lives for the Lord. We can then make the proper adjustments. God will bless such changes. We are not only to plan our actions, but to actually do them. For Christian stewards, the joy is in the doing, in the giving, in the serving. May your life always be one of service to God, the Church, and others.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Pentecost 16
This commandment forbids all sins of the tongue [James 3], by which we may injure or confront our neighbor.  To bear false witness is nothing else than a work of the tongue.  Now, God prohibits whatever is done with the tongue against a fellow man.  This applies to false preachers with their doctrine and blasphemy, false judges and witnesses with their verdict, or outside of court by lying and speaking evil.  Here belongs the detestable vice of speaking behind a person’s back and slandering, to which the devil spurs us on.  It is a common that everyone prefers hearing evil more than hearing good about his neighbor.  We ourselves are so bad that we cannot allow anyone to say anything bad about us.  Yet we cannot bear that the best is spoken about others.

To avoid this vice we should note that no one is allowed publicly to judge and reprove his neighbor—even though he may see him sin—unless he has a command to judge and to reprove.  There is a great difference between these two things: judging sin and knowing about sin.  You may know about it, but you are not to judge it.  I can indeed see and hear that my neighbor sins.  But I have no command to report it to others.  If I judge and pass sentence, I fall into a sin that is greater than his.  But if you know about it, do nothing and cover it until you are appointed to be judge and to punish by virtue of your office. – Large Catechism, Part I, the Eighth Commandment, paragraphs 263-266


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