From: Su Min
Subject: Ephphatha... Be Opened..
CYBERCHURCHIANSMonday 25th November 1996
Epistle to The CyberChurch
GREETINGSMy dear family and friends, parishioners of The Cyberchurch, trans-denominational, a church as universal as it can get, built on The Rock.
The rain may come down, the stream may rise, the winds may blow and beat against it, but that built upon The Rock will not fall.
TEXTOur text for today is Matthew_15:29-31. Jesus heals. See also Mark_7:31-37.
CONTEXTJesus had retired to the outskirts of Sidon and Tyre to seek solitude (Matthew_15:21)
But solitude was not to be found.
He was approached by a persistent Gentile woman of great faith.
He healed her demon possessed daughter as she was humble and faithful enough to ask for merely the crumbs from under the table.
Today's passage opens just as Jesus returns from the outskirts of Sidon and Tyre.
UP THE HILLJesus left there and went along the sea of Galilee. Then He went up into the hills and sat down. (Matthew_15:29)
Mark show Jesus proceeds northwards in Phoenicia through Sidon, then eastwards across the Jordan, and finally southwards through Decapolis (the region of the ten cities). This route suggests that He seeks to avoid headlong confrontation with Herod Antipas.
He reaches his destination up into the hills where one may expect he could find peace and seclusion. But peace and seclusion were not to be. Even as Jesus sat down upon the hills that bordered the shores of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds came to Him.
GREAT CROWDSGreat crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them (Matthew_15:30)
This one verse compresses much of the pattern of the healing ministry of Jesus. Within this one verse await many mini-lessons for us.
Great crowds came to him bringing...
How did the needful get to Jesus?
They were brought by great crowds of others.
Great crowds of others, whom we can presume, had been needful themselves, then had their needs met by
Jesus, met at their very point of need.
Great crowds of people who had been hungry, but found where to get bread.
They ate their fill, and went out to bring others to the living bread.
So too for us: we, who have had our needs met by Jesus, who have accepted the gift of eternal life: We should take the cue from this great crowd, we should bring others to the bread of life, we should rescue the perishing, bring hope to the hopeless, bring light to the children of darkness, bring love to the unloved, the message of salvation to the unsaved.
Mini-lesson 2)The lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many others,..
The broad, the general, and the specific: people of all manner of ills were brought to Jesus. Mark_7:32-35_ documents one specific individual who was deaf and had a speech impediment. The lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many others were brought to Jesus. Whatever our needs we can come to Jesus.
and laid them at his feet
Having come to Jesus, what is our posture?
Throw away conceit.
Throw away self sufficiency.
Throw away self pride.
Throw away self righteousness.
Come in humility.
Come in repentance.
Not for you to stand tall, but throw yourself at His feet. Come to the mercy seat, come to the throne of
grace, and there, between the cherubims, meet Jesus.
Mini-lesson 4)and he healed them
Jesus healed the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and the many others who were brought to Him. The one specific individual who was deaf and had a speech impediment was taken aside from the crowd by Jesus who then touched his ear and his tongue, perhaps the better to communicate with the deaf man. Jesus spoke an Aramaic word, "Ephphatha", (that is "Be Opened..." ), and indeed the ear was opened and hearing returned and the mouth was opened and clear speech returned.
REACTION AND RESPONSE TO THE HEALINGThe people were amazed when they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking, and the blind seeing (Matthew_15:31a)
Mini-lesson 5)And what is your reaction, beloved to the saving grace of Jesus? Are you not amazed? Does it not fill you with awe and wonder, that Jesus should chose you as recipient of the gift of eternal life, love you and die for you, and conquer death for you? Are you not amazed?
And they praised the God of Israel (Matthew_15:31b)
Mini-lesson 6)And you, agapetos, would you not join the sixed-winged seraphs and archangels and heavenly choir of angels and saints in a hymn of everlasting praise to our Almighty God?
LESSONSCan Jesus nowadays heal our physical infirmities as well? The lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and others?
Yes, I believe He can. Miraculous cures are still possible, though few and far between. Though not for lack of faith. There are some who He chooses to heal, some who he chooses not to heal.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a gospel of material health and wealth.
Faith in Jesus does not mean that we will not travel through the dark valleys.
But faith in Jesus promises us that He will be with us every step of the way. And at the end of our journey we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Jesus heals: He cures us from sin and eternal death.
"Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.." Jesus speaks to each one of us, beloved. "Ephphatha". That word speaks to us across the centuries...
What do we have closed that are to be opened?
- Legs that are crippled, lame, that will not bring us out to the world, amongst the alien, the oppressed the widow, the orphan, the sick. "Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.."
- Hands that are tightly clenched, holding the purse stings. Hands that are tightly clutched to our sides, not willing to reach out to others in love: in service, or in friendship. How the lonely long for a hug... "Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.."
- Hearts that are closed to others: we have our tight knit circle of friends and will not open up to others. "Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.."
- Eyes that look at the scriptures but will not see the truths.. Eyes that look around ourselves but will not see the injustice, oppression. poverty, loneliness... "Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.."
- Mouths that will not speak the good news
Mouths that will not testify of the saving grace of Jesus
Mouths that will not speak up against injustice
Mouths that will not tell of the bountiful everlasting mercy of God..
"Ephphatha"... "Be Opened.."
OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND PRAISE GODHaving been touched by Jesus, what would you praise God for? May I suggest
- Praise Him because He is worthy to be praised
- Praise Him, for He has created all creation
- Praise Him for the gift of eternal life
- Praise Him for the fullness of life on earth that we enjoy: Most of us have ben blessed with a family, education, roof over our head, food in the belly, 2 legs, 2 arms, 2 eyes, 2 ears, a mouth, a heart and a brain, and lots of other bits, all wonderfully made and connected together.. How often do we thank God and praise Him and bless him for all the blessings showered upon us?
Pause a while now, my dears, and write down a list of your blessings.
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
And it will amaze you
What the Lord has done Amen!
Grace love and peace
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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