In the name of the Father, and of † the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
He Will Come
In today’s lesson from Isaiah, we hear words that are meant for us as well as the people of Israel who lived at the time of Isaiah. The Lord told Isaiah to speak to the people who had “an anxious heart.” His words are meant to give comfort and strength.
All of us are people with “an anxious heart.” We live in an anxious time. All of us live with anxieties, with fears, and with uncertainties. Many people are anxious about their health and wealth. Fear about what the future holds for us or our loved ones is common. You know best what makes you anxious and what you fear.
For many people “an anxious heart” appears when they attend a funeral or when they have a serious illness or accident of their own. Perhaps you have heard people say, “I try my best to live the way God wants.” Maybe you hear people say something like this, “I hope God will let me into heaven, I haven’t done anything too bad.”
Uncertainty brings with it “an anxious heart” especially uncertainty about your relationship with God. “Have I done enough, have I done the right things, have I tried hard enough, will God see me as a good person,” all these questions relate to “uncertainty” and create “an anxious heart.”
Even many Christians struggle with these uncertainties and anxious hearts. We need to hear what the Lord has to say about our anxious hearts. We need to hear how the Lord answers these questions. Listen to what the Lord told Isaiah to tell the people of Israel, “Say [to them], “Be strong; fear not!””
Why should the people “Be strong?” Why should they “have no fear?” Why should we be strong and without fear? Here is the Lord’s answer to why, “Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
We cannot take away our uncertainty and our fears, because we cannot take away our sin. God has every right to be full of vengeance. He has every right to punish us for our sin. We cannot recompense or repay God for our sin.
“Behold, your God will come and save you.” God promised the people of Israel that he would come and take care of the punishment for sin. The Lord promised that he would come to pay the price for sin. He would come. He promised!
The Lord gave signs that would show he had come. He gave signs so that people would know that he had fulfilled his promise to take care of the punishment for sin, that he would pay the price for sin. Here is how he described the signs:
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.”
Not only did the Lord say that healing would come to human beings, but he said that healing would come to all creation. “The wilderness and deserts would no longer be burning sand but would be land with pools and springs of water.”
“Behold, your God will come and save you.” Hundreds of years latter, we hear a man cry out in the wilderness, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “Behold” John the Baptist said as he pointed to Jesus. Could this be the One that God promised?
Let’s look at the signs. “They brought to [Jesus] a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hands on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, [Jesus] put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.”
Jesus healed this man. Just as we read in Isaiah, “the ears of the deaf were unstopped … and the tongue of the mute was able to sing for joy.” Miracle after miracle that Jesus performed were signs that God had come to save you. It was good news that God had come. Saint John tells us “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.”
Jesus came to heal you, to take away your anxiety and fear. He came to take away your uncertainty about your place in His kingdom. He came to save you from your sin and from death.
Tell No One
It seems like there is just one strange part of today’s gospel lesson. Jesus told them to “tell no one.” Why tell no one? This was good news, a healer had come. Yes, a healer had come; God himself was with his people. But this was only temporary healing.
Jesus knew that he must do more than heal the blind and the deaf for a little while. He came to bring eternal healing. Jesus came first to receive God’s punishment for sin. God’s vengeance would be poured out on him so that you would not be punished.
Jesus came to pay the price for sin – not with gold or silver, as Peter tells us, but with his holy innocent suffering and death and with the shedding of his blood. Jesus came to pay your debt.
If Jesus had simply gone around healing the sick and the lame, he would not have saved us from “an anxious heart,” he would not have saved us from our sin. His healing would never have been complete.
Jesus came to make healing complete and forever. He came to heal the earth as well. He promised a new heaven and a new earth. The disciples and the crowds had to wait because his healing of the world would first mean his suffering and death.
Jesus did what he came to do; he came to save you from your sin. He came to receive God’s vengeance in your place and he did that. He suffered and died for you. He came to repay the debt you owe because of your sin. He shed his blood for you.
If you are anxious about your sins, “Fear not,” Jesus takes them away. When you question if you have done enough or tired hard enough, let your eyes and your ears be open. See and hear that Jesus Christ has done it all for you. It is not what you can do for God; it is what Jesus Christ has done for you.
If we look to ourselves to see what we can do to save ourselves we will always be anxious, uncertain, and full of fear. If we look at what Jesus Christ has done to save us, we will be at peace, certain, and full of joy.
Healing Has Begun
“[Jesus] has done all things well.” That’s what the people around Jesus said when he healed the deaf mute. Jesus truly has done all things well. He has done them for you and for me. We already have the gift of forgiveness.
The healing has begun. It began with the forgiveness of your sins at your baptism. It continues as you daily hear the good news that through faith in Jesus Christ your sins are daily forgiven. The healing of forgiveness comes to you as you receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Healing continues in your life. Without the anxiety and fear that comes from sin, you are free to bring healing to others: those who need a savior, those who are lonely, those who are in the hospital, those who need a friend, and those who need food and clothing and shelter.
Healing will continue to come. It will come in fullness when Jesus Christ comes again. There will be no more blind and deaf, no more lame, no more cancer or heart diseases, and no more depression or emotional breakdowns.
Healing will come to the earth and heavens. Jesus Christ will give us a place of beauty in which to live.
“The Lord is my strength and my spirit; in him my heart trusts, and I am [healed]; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Amen
Soli Deo Gloria