Trinity 12, 2019| Mark 7:31-37| Pastor James Preus| Trinity Lutheran Church| September 8, 2019
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” (Genesis 1:1-4) The Triune God created the heavens and the earth. The Father created all things through his Son and with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit hovered over the face of the waters. God the Son is also known as the Word of God. St. John’s Gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) God said. He spoke a word. He did not create anything without speaking a word. And so, he showed from the beginning that all things were created through the Word. The Father created nothing without the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is the Lord and giver of life.
The Holy Trinity created the race of man. Man and woman are a special creation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Scripture writes that on the sixth day, “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. …’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Here the one God uses the plural pronouns “us” and “our” to show that humans are created in the image of the Holy Trinity.
And in Genesis chapter two Scripture goes into even greater detail of how the Holy Trinity worked to create the first man, “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (vss. 5-7)
In this marvelous account we see the workings of the Holy Trinity. The Father formed the man out of dust. He used water to make the mud. He spoke; the particular work of the Son of God. And he breathed life into him; the work of the Holy Spirit, the giver of life and breath. The heavens and the earth are God’s creation. The Father created nothing without his Son and the Holy Spirit. Mankind is the crown of God’s creation. “And God saw everything that he made, and behold, it was very good.”
Of course, we know it did not stay good. “All mankind fell in Adam’s fall; one common sin infects us all. From one to all the curse descends, And over all God’s wrath impends.” When our first parents sinned, they changed the entire creation from good to bad. The life that reigned before gave way to the rule of death. And love and peace with God were replaced with enmity. God’s creation was broken. Man lost God’s image and became sinful. And sin brought death.
Only God created the universe. No one and nothing else could. And no one except God can restore God’s creation to its previous glory. Adam and Eve tried to cover up their mistake, but they failed. God found them. He knew what they had done. It is like when a small child finds his mother’s knitting project and decides to play with the needles. When mom returns, he hastily tries to put the needles back. But it’s too late. He’s ruined the project and he does not know how to fix it. His mother must take away the needles and mangled yarn and fix it herself. This is what God must do. We cannot fix the creation. We cannot fix ourselves. We need God to fix us.
To fix his fallen creation, God needed to address the cause of its ruin: sin. So, God went to work, much like he did when he first created the universe. God spoke through the mouth of his prophets and finally through an angel. The Holy Spirit descended upon a virgin daughter of the man of dust. And God the Son, the eternal Word through whom and by whom and for whom all things were made, became a son of the first man of the ground. In the womb of the Virgin Mary, God formed the second Adam, by whose obedience the earth would be restored.
Adam deserved to die, because of his sin. And all his children deserve to die, because of their sin. Yet, this second Adam committed no sin. Yet, on behalf of Adam and all his children, he died, laden with the sins of the world. He obeyed his Father’s command. He did what the Holy Spirit anointed him to do when he was baptized in the Jordan River. Jesus Christ died to conquer sin and death for us.
As with the creation of the world and of the first man, God saves without our help. His creation was good without our work. And so, God accomplished the work of salvation for all mankind, the restoration of his lost creation, without our work; without our help. And this teaches us that we are saved by grace, apart from our works. This grace is received through faith.
In our Gospel lesson Jesus demonstrates the work of the Holy Trinity. He restores the broken body of this deaf and mute man in the same manner that he created the world and indeed restores the world. Jesus looked up to heaven. He shows that he can do nothing apart from the Father, even as the Father creates and restores nothing apart from his Son. Jesus sighs. He lets out a deep breath, demonstrating that the Holy Spirit and giver of breath works through his word. As with the creation of the world and of Adam, he uses water. He spits. He touches the man, even as God touched the earth and mist to form Adam. Yes, here we see the Holy Trinity restores in the same manner in which he creates.
And the restoration of this deaf and mute man is not independent of Christ’s cross. On the cross Jesus let out a cry to God the Father as he gave up his last breath, and so he finished his work of taking away our sins. And so, this sigh from our Lord as he restores the ears and tongue of this man shows that all our ailments are healed through Jesus’ cross. This miracle is only a foreshadow of what Christ will do for all of us through his cross. We’re all going to die. Our whole bodies will need to be restored, not just our ears and tongues. And through the work Jesus accomplished on the cross, it will be done. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will restore us to our intended perfection, our intended goodness, through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
We are saved through God’s work, not ours. It was impossible for us to save ourselves. Rather, we are saved through faith when we believe that God has redeemed us through Christ Jesus. As Scripture says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. … For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)
Yet, there is a problem. In order to believe, you must first hear the Gospel. And in order to confess, you must first have a tongue ready praise your God. Yet, in our sinful state inherited by the first man of dust, we do not have such ears and tongues. We have ears, but we cannot hear the words of God. We hear sounds. We hear words and sentences and we can understand the grammar, but because of our sinful flesh, we cannot truly understand and believe the Gospel. In such a state we cannot confess Christ. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. And Jesus teaches us that out of the heart come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. Such a heart cannot make a tongue sing praises to God!
So, for us to truly hear and understand and believe the Gospel, we need God to open our ears. And for us to confess God rightly, we need God to loosen the bonds of our tongue and purify our hearts. And our Gospel lesson shows us how this is done. It is done through the work of the Holy Trinity. The God who created the universe, the God who restores all creation through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of his Son, is the same God who must open our ears and loosen our tongues, so that we may believe and confess this Gospel.
A couple weeks ago Lane and Drew Brown were baptized. They were about a month old. They don’t speak English yet. I might as well have been speaking Aramaic. Yet, through the words of Christ spoken through this unworthy pastor, and through the water poured upon their heads, the Holy Trinity opened their ears to hear God’s Word and loosened their tongues to confess the name of Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit himself hovered over those Baptismal waters, even as he did at the creation of the world. We believe that the words spoken joined those babies to Jesus’ cross. And through those words, Christ has granted them healing that only his suffering and death on the cross can give.
This is how our God works. This is how he restores his creation here and now. All of us, when we were baptized experienced the work of this Holy Trinity, who creates and restores. God speaks. He sends the Holy Spirit. He saves us not by works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs, having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-8) When you were baptized, God healed you through the power of Jesus’ cross.
This work of the Holy Trinity continues throughout our life through the ministry of the Word. God the Father continues to send forth his Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word and through the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood to give to us the merits of Christ. Through the word of Christ, God continues to open our ears and loosen our tongues, so that we can believe this Gospel and be saved. It is through hearing the word of Christ that we continue in the grace of our Baptism, and that we finally defeat death.
A few days after Lane and Drew were Baptized, our sister in Christ, Eveline Benn died. Yet, she too was baptized into Christ 97 years ago. The Holy Trinity opened her ears to hear the Gospel. And he loosened her tongue to confess his name. And not even death can take that away, because she was baptized into Christ’s death and Christ has conquered death. She will rise again and live forever.
The Holy Trinity has indeed restored his creation, which was corrupted by our sin. He is indeed growing his Church as he opens ears and loosens tongues to hear and confess Christ’s holy name. And as it was said at the creation of the world, and as it was said when Christ healed the deaf mute, and as it is sung by the Church throughout the world, so will it be declared for all eternity in the new creation: He has done all things well. Amen.