“He Has Done Everything Well”

Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost  September 4-5, 2021

“He Has Done Everything Well”  Mark 7:31-37

Rev. John R. Larson, Ascension Lutheran Church, Littleton, Colorado

             A few weeks ago I was visiting one of our folks whose life has been very hard over the past year.  When I arrived I was ready to listen to the difficulties that he has had for the last year, how life has been trying and how having a faith in the goodness of God was in question.

            But I didn’t get that.  I got words like, “God is good” and “I am so blessed.”  I saw his faith beam and he expressed words of thankfulness to how God took care of him at moments when life and death were before him.

            Do you find yourself there?  Is that how you look at life?  Do you stand amazed at how good and generous God is to you, in your life, at every moment, in every situation?  Do you look at past, present and future with such anticipation?

            This past week I received the newsletter from “Mission Experience”.  Mission Experience was begun by Pastor Mike Paulison, and it is a ministry and orphanage and school for Haitian children.  I bet they have been working there for 10 years, or so.  Pastor Mike has written a book titled “Unsafe Faith” that will be released this month.  For a while, about 6 years ago, he had to question what God was doing, or not doing, in that work.  Many people had come to Haiti to build the orphanage and it was operating well.  Kids, who had been abandoned, were taken in.  They were fed, clothed, sheltered, educated and taught the love of Jesus.  But then, in an underhanded move, the property was stolen from them.  In his newsletter Pastor Mike wrote, “We wondered, how could God let this happen if He wants us to be here?  It didn’t seem right or fair.  It seemed like evil had won a victory over our ministry.”    

            But Pastor Mike continues, “However, now in hindsight our view is different.  None of us could ever have foreseen what would happen in the last couple of years in Haiti.  We didn’t understand, but we simply moved in faith leaning on what we thought God was telling us.  So, we bought a field and proceeded to build a new orphanage and take it off grid.  God in His infinite wisdom, as always, knew better than us what the future would hold.”

            What I heard from my visit to that member and what I read in Pastor Mike’s newsletter is the phrase that was spoken about the actions of Jesus, in our reading from Mark 7, “He has done everything well.” (Mark 7:37)  I hope we say the same thing.  I hope we in attitude and word say, “God is good.”

            Mark 7 is an interesting chapter.  Jesus traveled for a number of days, going north and east to the region of Tyre and Sidon, on the Mediterranean Sea.  He came there, to a place where few Jews lived, to do a miracle among the Gentiles.  Then He took a long trip, many more days, to this region on the southeast side of the Sea of Galilee.  Again, it was a region with few Jews but many Gentiles.  He went there to show that God is good to all.  Listen to this miracle, “Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.  After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’, (which means, ‘Be opened!)  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.”  (Mark 7:31-35)

            Don’t you just see the intensity of Jesus?  Sticking His fingers right into the man’s ears!  Spitting and placing that spit on the tongue of the man who couldn’t speak!  And then it says that Jesus looked up, toward heaven, and groaned – “with a deep sigh”, and gives the command – “Be opened” – Ephphatha.  And when the man comes back to his friends and those who knew his condition before this miracle, it says, “People were overwhelmed with amazement.  ‘He has done everything well.  He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’”  (Mark 7:37)

            God is good.  This man had his life changed because Jesus came to him.  Can you say the same?  Can you say that God is good?  Can you say that He has done everything well?  Or, do we even think of it?

            Not only does Jesus do all things well; Jesus does every person well.  He came all the way to foreign territory to come to those who didn’t know of God’s love and provision.  In the epistle for today we read from the book of James about how we are not to show favoritism.  God doesn’t and we shouldn’t.  When Paul speaks about the forgiveness and salvation of God coming to everyone who believes, he says that it is “First for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith, from first to last.”  (Romans 1:16b-17)  God is good!!  We have no hope of forgiveness and peace and everlasting life if Jesus hadn’t come for each of us, one by one, to make us right with God the Father.  But He came and did His work.  Jesus died for all our sin.  He rose again to defeat death.  Trust in Jesus.  Trust in those life-giving actions.  He has done everything well and He has done us well. 

            The Old Testament reading for today tells us that this has always been the plan of God.  The plan of God was to send the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, whose great actions would bring new hope.  It says of Him, “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”  (Isaiah 35:3-6)

            Not only does Jesus do all things well; Jesus does every person well.  The one who couldn’t speak and couldn’t hear lived at a great disadvantage in this world.  Taking care of self and even others would have been most difficult.  Jesus changed his life.  One good thing after another awaited him with this visitation and work of Jesus.  In Psalm 103 the thought of God being good, and that He does all things well, is clearly spoken.  “O bless the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – he forgives all your sins and heals you from all your diseases, he redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, he satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like that of the eagle’s…O bless the Lord, O my soul.”  (Psalm 103:1-5, 22b)

            Pastor Robert Hedtke who once served in West Point, NE gave this illustration, “A man was out walking in the desert when a voice said to him, ‘Pick up some pebbles, put them in your pocket, and tomorrow you will both sorry and glad.’  The man obeyed.  He stooped down, picked up a handful of pebbles and put them in his pocket.  The next morning when he reached into his pocket he found diamonds and rubies and emeralds.  And he was both glad and sorry.  Glad that he had taken some – sorry that he hadn’t taken more.”  Don’t be reluctant to take everything God has to offer you.   

            Do you know how this man who couldn’t speak or hear was made better?  Do you know how this Gentile, far away from knowing God’s place in life was made better?  Do you know how this fellow was made whole?  It wasn’t by Jesus sticking His fingers in his ears, nor by His spitting and touching the man’s tongue.  It came all by His word, His command.

            And we need more of that Word, that promise, that hope, given to us by Jesus.  His grace coming to us by words on the page of a Bible, or from water in a baptismal font, or by the common elements of bread and wine, become the choice jewels that He gives us.  Don’t be reluctant to take a whole bunch of what He offers.  That which seems so common becomes that of greatest worth.

            When you read the accounts of the life of Jesus and you read the miracles that He does, let those actions tell you one thing about God – God is good!!  When you think about His hand that did everything well, be convinced that Jesus does every person well – including you and me.  God delights in doing such good things for us. 

            It is true – God is good!!  He does everything and every person well.  Amen!!             

                                        

1 comment

  1. Pauline Reker says:

    Lead me to prior sermons. I got out of habit of checking these out.
    I visited with Edna Achziger today (I am her Niece –Bertha Propsteins
    daughter). Lead to how to print sermons. Good reading just before
    bed

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