Rev. Marten Kleyn was the pastor of a Dutch refugee church in London, England. Rev. Kleyn is better remembered today by his Latinized name, Martin Micron. Because of heavy persecution in the Netherlands, many Reformed believers fled to England and they established a Dutch speaking church in London. Martin Micron was one of the pastors. In 1552, he wrote a catechism for the instruction of the small children of the church. In this catechism at a certain point he mentions those who are deaf. He says that those who are born deaf cannot believe because they cannot hear the Word of God. Nevertheless, like the infant children in the church, for the sake of Christ, the deaf are blessed, they are regarded as holy, righteous, clean, and faithful.
Now you might be thinking that Micron was a bit extreme in saying this because, after all, there is such a thing as sign language. But sign language was not invented until 1620. And without sign language it would have been nearly impossible to communicate with a deaf person – also virtually impossible to teach someone how to read. In the sixteenth century, if you were deaf, you were cut off from communication in so many ways. You would also have been cut off from the Word of God. Of course, that would also mean that there would be no way for you to speak of the riches of God and of the gospel, no way to sing God’s praises.
And if that was true in the 1500s, it was just as true in the days of the Lord Jesus. To have been born deaf would mean to be an outcast in many ways. You wouldn’t have been able to communicate in any meaningful way with the people around you. You wouldn’t be able to know what they’re saying to you, apart from some basic hand gestures. They wouldn’t be able to understand what comes out of your mouth either because you’ve never heard people speak. That would create problems in society, but it would also be a barrier in relation to God. You could never hear God’s Word. And then you would never be able to share God’s Word with others either.
Today those who are born deaf and those who become deaf have a lot more going for them. Sign language and lip reading have been enormous blessings for the deaf. Today many churches provide signing for their deaf members. The RCUS, the Reformed Church in the United States, one of our sister churches, even has a congregation made up entirely of deaf Reformed believers. Things are much different. Today it’s possible for those who are deaf to hear the Word of God in their own language.
But in our text, we encounter a man who lived long before these advances. Here was a man who lived his life in utter silence. Here was a man for whom the way was blocked for the Word of God. Then the Lord Jesus came and a way was cleared for the Word.