Throughout the church Year, at various times we will hear these healing miracles worked by Jesus. When they come up, the question is always, How do I apply this to my life? Does Jesus tell us about healing a deaf and mute man so that we look for our own similar miraculous healing? While we would all love to be healed of the things that plague this body, healing here-and-now is not what the miracles are about. The Holy Spirit caused the Evangelists to record Jesus’ miracles to teach us their spiritual application in our lives. Yes, Jesus can and does work miracles still today and He completely and in ways that defy logic heals the deaf, mute, paralyzed, cancer patients, and all the rest. But He hasn’t promised that kind of healing for us before this mortal body puts on immortality. Instead, He has promised us the same kind of healing—the true healing—He gave to this man in the Decapolis.
As Jesus heals the deaf-mute man, He sighs. This is an intriguing action by Our Lord, and through the centuries has been the object of a great deal of analysis and guesses as to why and what it means. If you follow the word “sigh,” or “groan”—the other way the Greek word is translated—throughout Scripture you begin to see that Jesus’ sighing is not a small thing. As Jesus sighs, He expresses His anger over sin and the destruction it brought in His once good creation. He reveals His compassion for His children, His desire that they be free of sin and experience the new heaven and new earth. And by His sigh He intercedes for the deaf-mute man, indeed, for all of creation, praying for him and us all in ways which we cannot because sin keeps us from praying for what we ought. The sigh of Jesus reveals the love which He has for us, the love which sent Him to the cross and now preserves His Church for the salvation of the world.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.