These events took place as Jesus traveled. The first happened when He was in the region of Tyre and Sidon in the north. This area was Gentile territory, and Jesus’ interaction there is with a Gentile woman who begs for her daughter to be exorcised of an unclean spirit. When He returned from that region, He healed the deaf and mute man. The function of this reading is such that it challenges us to consider what right we have to be Jesus’ followers and to receive benefits from Him, and to recognize that it is He who opens us to receive His grace.
“Ephphatha,” is a strange looking word in English, but its meaning is beautiful: “Be opened.” Jesus uttered this word when He healed a man who was both deaf and unable to speak. He opened the man’s ears to hear His Word and his mouth to praise God.
In the history of the church the word ephphatha was used in Baptismal liturgies, which emphasized that a person’s coming to faith was possible because God had worked in that person to open her ears to hear the Gospel and be saved. This emphasizes the point that whether it is a Gentile woman pleading for her daughter, a deaf man who wishes to hear and speak, or any person who experiences brokenness and the defilement of sin, it is the Word that the Spirit of God uses to make and keep faith in people.
How has God opened you with His Word? He has brought you to faith. He has cleansed you. He has given you the opportunity to declare His praises. He has also opened you to love Him and your neighbor. How great and glorious God is!
This prayer is written in the themes of Instruction, Thanksgiving, Confession, and Petition.
O Lord, You are teaching us that no one comes to You on their own. You must open our ears to hear of Jesus’ cross and empty tomb in such a way that it creates faith in us. You open our hearts and minds to understand Your Word and receive Your gracious release from everything that makes us unclean.
Thanks for proclaiming Your Word to us and for opening our ears to hear and believe. It is amazing how some hear of Your love and compassion, who know about Jesus’ suffering and death, but that Word does not lead to faith in them. Thank You for the grace You have shown to us so that we confess that we believe in Christ crucified, we belong to Your family, and Your provision of grace is sufficient for us.
We confess that sometimes when we read Your Word, we wrestle with it. We don’t always understand and we don’t want to believe what You are saying. Please forgive us for closing ourselves off to Your Word. Forgive us for believing that You should make Yourself clearer to us, when all we need is the forgiveness given to us through faith in our risen Lord Jesus.
God, please give us grace and strengthen our faith so that our ears would be open to hear Your Word in its fullness and to believe it. Grant us a humble spirit to receive what You give us and to rejoice in it; not placing ourselves as judges of Your gifts, but as unworthy recipients. And grant that Your Word would go out through Your people so that many will come to believe in Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.