Ears Opened by God Enjoy His Good Gifts
These are the readings for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
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.
First Lesson – Isaiah 35:4-7a
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)?
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.
What will happen to the blind and deaf, specifically? (See 35:5.)
Isaiah says that the blind will see and that the lame will walk.
Traditional Second Lesson – James 1:17-27
Where does every good gift come from?
It is God’s nature to give good gifts to his children. In fact, those are the only kinds of gifts he can give.
How is the righteous man blessed?
The Christian, because of Christ, will look to the Law as a joyful obligation. He will listen to it and strive to obey it. This will make him truly “religious.”
Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 3:1-10
How did Peter and John give the lame man ability to walk? (See 3:6.)
Peter and John said to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
How did the man respond to his healing?
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.
Gospel – Mark 7:31-37
Why does Jesus use sign language as he heals the deaf man?
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.
Once healed, the deaf man “spoke clearly.” What is the significance?
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.
Why did Jesus not want them to tell anyone about the miracle that just had taken place?
Jesus told people not to tell anyone about this miraculous healing because he did not want fame and popularity to go to his own head or to hinder his way to the cross.