When it comes to Christ, it’s good to be deaf and have a speech impediment. Frankly, it’s good to have any impediment that hinders you from thinking you must do something to bring yourself into fellowship with the Son of God.
The explanation of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed confesses “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him”. Take out the prepositional phrase and the sentence is also correct. “I believe that I cannot believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him”. Refine the sentence even more and it still remains correct: “I believe that I cannot believe”.
To our ears that sounds like a statement against believing in Jesus Christ. Even someone who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ could confess it. “I cannot believe in Jesus Christ”. Consider, though, that it is a different sentence than “I will not believe in Jesus Christ”. An atheist has no problem confessing that sentence. To confess you “cannot” believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him is a matter of lack of ability.
You are spiritually deaf and mute, not to mention blind, before God. To believe in Jesus Christ you need help. You can’t come to Him as if walking up to a door, knocking on it, and letting yourself inside. Try that with someone spiritually deaf, mute, and blind. You might be able to communicate by sign language or Braille. Yet if the person has no one to take them there, it is impossible for them to accomplish the task.
Take the deaf-mute man in today’s Gospel. They brought a man to Jesus who was deaf and had a speech impediment. The man didn’t walk up to Jesus. They brought Him. The people are provided everything good in Christ. They aren’t mistaken. The Lord has never pushed away someone who gave Him his trust. The people here give Jesus their trust. It’s not as if they had no trust beforehand. They have heard He is able to help. They want this man to have what they have.
There it is! The people bringing the deaf-mute man to Jesus in Mark chapter seven want him to have what they have: forgiveness, peace, joy, eternal life, and hope for their remaining days on earth. But doesn’t his impediment stand in the way of it? No. Jesus takes care of that impediment as He took care of yours. He takes care of it through means, stuff.
In Mark chapter seven Jesus uses words, spit, and fingers. They pleaded with Jesus to place His hand on him. Jesus goes one step farther. He put His fingers into the man’s ears. Then He spit and touched the man’s tongue. After He looked up to heaven, He sighed and said, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”) Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was set free, and he began to speak plainly.
The entire crowd wanted was His hand laid on the man. Jesus lays words, spit, and fingers on him. The divine Word brings things into existence from nothing. God speaks, and the earth is created from nothing. God acts, and a sea parts, a donkey speaks, fleece becomes wet when there’s no water near, and a virgin conceives and bears a Son named Immanuel. Here’s a man who has neither heard nor spoken anything. Jesus brings Him hearing and speech from seemingly nothing. Yet Christ speaks to Him Ephphatha. The Word does what it says. The man’s ears are opened and his tongue loosed.
Jesus spits and touches the man’s tongue. Have you ever tried to talk when it feels like you’re about to spit cotton balls? You need a moist mouth to make speech. Our Lord’s moist fingers stuck in the man’s ears and on his tongue bring him what he desires.
The people cry out, He has done everything well. Yes, He has. Everything on earth was created good. Everything our Father in heaven has done for His people has been good, even though it seems bad to our eyes. He prepared them for the coming of their Savior. It was many of His own people who rejected Him. Those whose ears and tongues are opened and loosed from spiritual darkness do not see merely a man from Nazareth Who takes on the divine name of God. They see their Savior, Who comes to do all things well for their salvation; things they are not able to do.
There’s no way you can come to Jesus on your own. The Holy Spirit is the one who called you by the Gospel. Again, through earthly stuff like words preached in your ears, water splashed on your head, bread and wine in your mouth as Body and Blood for you. He enlightened you with His gifts: the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Granted these are gifts of civic righteousness before the world. Yet all these gifts of the Holy Spirit aren’t merely external behaviors. This is how you live as you hear the Word that both condemns and forgives sins. In Christ you no longer hate, despair, become impatient, despise your neighbor, and rage endlessly about your lot in life. Jesus has set you free from all these and even your worst enemy: death. You’re free to show these gifts to your neighbor for Christ’s sake.
Someone brought you to Jesus like these people brought the deaf-mute man to Jesus. Maybe it was Mom and Dad. Maybe it was another relative or a friend. Someone brought you to have your ears opened and your tongue freed. What is more, they brought you to be made dead to sin and to be made alive again in life in Jesus Christ. That’s what His Word does; a Word that doesn’t just show up and do something you can’t explain. His is a Word that creates, liberates, and sustains you in that liberation into everlasting life. It’s good to be spiritually deaf, mute, and blind. That way Jesus works on you and gives you life. He has done all things well, all things for your eternal welfare.