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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

He Has Done Everything Well

NOTE: Today's message is dedicated to our long-time friend and "Sundays With Jerry" follower, Deacon David Brenton who went home to the Lord this week. Kim and I became friends with David beginning in elementary school when we moved to Fairfax VA in 1965 and continued so for the past 56 years. Much like our father Jerry, David answered God's call to the ministry later in life when he entered Reformed Episcopal Seminary in 2018. This past Saturday August 28th, David was ordained Deacon at Christ Church in Warrenton VA and on Monday August 30th, our Lord called him home where he was most surely met by Christ with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" He will be greatly missed here until we rejoice together with him in Heaven. Kurt Reiter and Kim Reiter Ragland


Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost

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 Jesus to place his hand on him.


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.


Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Mark 7:31-37


A man went up to the ticket counter at the airport, and the girl behind the counter asked him, “Can I help you, sir?” “Yes,” he said, “I’d like to buy a ticket for me to fly to Miami, and for these two suitcases to go to Denver.” The girl said, “We can’t do that!” “Why not?” the man asked, “You did it last time!”


Did you ever have that experience? Maybe you took a plane trip and your luggage didn’t catch up with you until your trip back home. Or did you ever have some work done on your car, or your house, or an appliance, or whatever – only to have it worse after it had supposedly been fixed?


Until recently, we had an all-metal shower stall in our camp on Lake Superior. It worked okay, except sometimes, when you were standing on the wet, metal floor of the shower and touched the faucets, you got an electric shock. This can make a person nervous! :) So we called an electrician, who grounded the well and the pump and some pipes – and I don’t know what all he grounded – and he took some of our money. So, thinking everything was safe now, I went to take a shower, turned on the faucets – and got a blast of electric water! That’ll wake you up! :)


Have you had experiences like that? Or maybe you bought an appliance that self-destructed the day after the warranty expired? If you can identify with any of these, or similar, experiences, you’re probably an average, frustrated consumer who has little confidence in the quality or reliability of many of the goods and services you buy.


Because of such experiences, we tend to become skeptical about the claims of goods and the promises of people. We’ve learned to protect ourselves with a certain amount of doubt. My mother-in-law used to say, “If you believe everything you hear, you’ll eat anything you see.” Doubting some of the claims we hear probably serves us well!


The problem is, however, that sometimes we carry this same kind of skepticism and doubt over into the goods and services God has promised to deliver to us.


For example, do you ever find yourself wondering whether or not God’s forgiveness in Christ can really cover your sins? After all, you know you’ve done some pretty rotten things! Maybe, you reason, there’s something I need to add to what Christ has done – I feel so guilty! Or maybe you wonder whether or not God fully realizes your everyday needs. Maybe He thinks some of your needs are wants! I mean, He is pretty old! Does He really love me enough to take care of me?


Does this kind of thinking sound familiar? Here our doubts and skepticism about God’s promises in Christ are not only not helpful – but they can be very harmful!


In the Gospel lesson for today St. Mark gives us a strong antidote for such unwelcome suspicions. He assures us that there is absolutely no reason to doubt any of God’s promises, or wonder about whether His plans for us are adequate. Why? Because His promises are based on the One whose word and work are totally reliable. He has always delivered what He promised! He has perfectly met all our needs. Mark tells us we can count on Jesus Christ because “He has done everything well.”


“He has done everything well.” This is the conclusion of the people who brought their deaf and speech-impaired friend to Jesus for healing. These people aren’t just talking to hear themselves talk. They know what they’re talking about. They are eye-witnesses of Jesus’ perfect healing of their friend. They observed Christ’s compassion for their friend and His understanding of his needs. They watched as Jesus led their friend away from the confusion and sensation of the crowds so the man could focus his full attention on the Healer. They saw the personal, reassuring, intimate touch Jesus gave to their friend’s ears and tongue. And their evaluation of Jesus couldn’t be contained when their friend was set free for the joys of hearing and speaking. No wonder they couldn’t contain their testimony about the Lord, even though He requested their silence. Who wouldn’t want to tell the world? “He has done everything well.”


Their certainty about Jesus’ work can be ours as well. Everything Christ has done, and continues to do, is just right, perfectly appropriate, and totally sufficient for us. “He has done everything well.”


Consider His creation. The Bible tells us that “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3) And when we consider the earth we find that its size, mass, distance from the sun and the moon, rotational wobble, chemical make-up, etc., etc., are all critical within very narrow limits. Any significant deviation in any of these, or other traits, would make life impossible. And yet planets and galaxies are simpler by far than even the tiniest living organism. The genetic code which regulates life, growth, and reproduction is so unthinkably complex that only an intelligent designer could have designed it. “He has done everything well.”


Consider His life. Not only did He live a perfect, sinless life, but He demonstrated what life is all about by the way He lived and by the things He said and did. He demonstrated love by acts of mercy like today’s Gospel story. He explained forgiveness and then demonstrated it by forgiving those who falsely condemned Him, tortured Him, and murdered Him!


In everything He said and did He revealed His Heavenly Father, and made it possible for us, too, to call Him our Heavenly Father!


And what of Christ’s promise of forgiveness for our sins? Nothing could be more certain! We can get rid of any doubts, fears or anxieties about its adequacy or its reliability. The forgiveness of sin won by Christ at Calvary has the best warranty in the world! It never runs out! It’s written in blood – His blood, shed for our sin! And there are no exceptions to this warranty. Whoever we are, whatever we have done, however guilty we feel, we may be positively certain that Jesus lived, died, and rose again – for us!


His life, death, and resurrection met all of God’s strictest standards. The forgiveness He offers is just right, perfectly adequate, and totally sufficient for us. We can depend on it! “He has done everything well.”


Yes, Jesus has done everything well. But that’s not the end of it, is it? Because too often He says, “Go ye, and do likewise.” Not in regards to creation of course, nor in regards to redemption, but surly in regards to our lives.


Like at the time of the Last Supper, when Jesus took a basin and a towel, and stooped down to wash His disciples’ feet. They were astonished – and even protested – but He did it anyway. And when He finished, He asked them, “Do you understand what I have done for you?... I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:12,15) If our Creator, Savior, and Lord could serve His servants, surely those in His Kingdom should serve one another!


And then there was Jesus’ parable of the talents. Remember? A man went on a journey and left his property in his servants’ care (just as Jesus left His property in our care when He ascended). Well, when he returned, he found that one servant had hidden his talent in the ground. And the master called him a “wicked, lazy servant!” The other servants, however – though they had not received equal talents – had invested them in their master’s interest. And to them he said, “well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:14-30)


Jesus tells us that the use we make of the gifts God has given us is vitally important. We are responsible for our qualities and abilities, which can be misused, abused, or properly used.


We may live with a certain amount of doubt and skepticism about the quality and reliability of goods and services provided by our society – but we can have absolute confidence and trust in the goods and services God has provided in Christ Jesus.


May He grant us the grace to follow His example, and may we use His gifts in ways pleasing to Him, so that Jesus, who has done everything well, will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”


Amen.

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