In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
“In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.” Thus saith the Lord. (Isaiah 29:18)
And so the Lord stood upon the earth—the word of God made flesh (John 1:14), the book of life (Revelation 20:12) Himself, the New Testament in His blood (Luke 22:20), whose glory surpasses and is so much greater than the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:9-11)—and blew open the ears of a deaf man so that he heard. The Word of God was stuffed into his ear, took hold of his tongue, sprinkling him with His own spittle, baptizing him, and washing away all his guilt—and he was opened. (Mark 7:33-35)
This is what the New Testament in Jesus’ blood does: it gives forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. A new life. Freed from the old. Life to the full (John 10:10). Life flowing from Him who is the source of life (John 15:4-5, 7; 1:1-4). Thus, there are times where this new life at work in you will even heal you miraculously. Our Lord’s forgiveness gives life and it saves you from sin, Satan, from hell. All by the forgiving touch of the Word made flesh.
For this forgiveness given by the Word of God in the flesh is glorious. Much more glorious than the condemnation that the Word of God written on stone has for you. Though that too is glorious. I’m talking about the two stone tables Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai. Written by the finger of God, etched in stone (Exodus 24:12; 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10). The Law. The Ten Commandments. Glorious (2 Corinthians 3:7). For it is love (Romans 13:10). It defines how to love God and how to love your neighbour (Matthew 22:36-40). This is the instruction book for life. These Ten Commandments if pondered and studied reveal to you all that you should do toward God and your neighbour. They are good and right (Romans 7:12). Glorious.
Or maybe your aim isn’t so good because your own sin has blinded you to the fact that you do what that stone says not to do. So you hurl it and wing someone. It thuds off their shoulder, and they turn around and bite your head off.
This is the work of the Law. To accuse. To condemn. To bring death. God allows this. For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The power of sin is the Law (1 Corinthians 15:56). Just like you get a paystub explaining your paycheque, the Law explains what you’ve earned. Its glory is obvious, simple, and fading. For all that it touches withers and dies.
And it touches you and me. The fact that you die, that you are discouraged is your sin and the Law’s convicting power at work. But the Law’s true glory is not that it threatens, motivates, or shames people into acting rightly—which it can, for a short while—but that it drives you to Christ (Galatians 3:23-24KJV). For the Law rightly understood drives you to despair. It robs you of any delusions that you can save yourself (Romans 3:20). Preparing you to know Christ and His glory.
So that now, for apostles like Paul and pastors like me, the Law exists not to make righteous, for it can not (Romans 3:20). It has no such power (Romans 8:3-4). It exists instead to diagnose what is killing you: your sin. To call you repentance. To put the fear of the Lord in you. To drive you to Jesus. To bring you to Him whose word breaks through your deafness and breaks your hard heart into pieces (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 21:44). Replacing your heart of stone with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), made alive by His Spirit. Who grabs hold of your tongue and gives it the words of life to say (Mark 7:33, 35; John 6:68-69). So that His life and hope and glory flow from you to others around you, opening the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, the tongues of the mute, building up what is torn down (Psalm 146:8), giving understanding, fresh joy, and life (Isaiah 29:24, 19).
Though you have strayed from your first love (Revelation 2:4-5) He has called you unto Himself and given you the fresh joy of His presence (Isaiah 29:19). He has instructed you this day, silenced your incessant complaints against Him (Isaiah 29:24) and given you faith to say, “He has done all things well for me. My sins are forgiven. I have His life. I have His salvation. I have Him with me and it is glorious.” (Mark 7:37)
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON