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Quinquagesima – Luke 18:31-43

by pastorjuhl ~ February 16th, 2012

 In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

            Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

            The cry of the blind man is the cry of the Christian Church on the eve of Lententide. Not even the polite rebukes of other people are able to silence his cry:

            Son of David, have mercy on me!

            The blind man’s cry is sung every week. The Kyrie is the first prayer of the Divine Service. It is the oldest prayer of the faithful. Kyrie, eleison, Lord, have mercy, is the most basic, simple, and clear from of prayer. Not even the polite rebukes of government and unbelievers are able to silence our cry. Jesus promises to hear our prayer and intercede on our behalf before our heavenly Father.

            You see this before your eyes every week when I stand before the altar as together, pastor and people, we cry out for mercy. Jesus’ promise is fulfilled when His Word is read and His Body and Blood are administered for the forgiveness of sins. No one should stand in the way of the free, full pardon of God in our Savior Jesus Christ.

            Nevertheless, people do stand in the way. We stand in our own way as well. Consider Lententide, when an extra opportunity for public prayer is offered with Wednesday night Vespers. Yes, our lives are busy. Yes, there are demands for our time after work or school. Yes, we have various vocations that need our time. But none of us would like to think that the Passion of Jesus Christ was something old and long familiar. We don’t need to hear the Passion account again. It rambles on and on for five weeks; a slow, agonizing account that we’ve heard year after year. I’ve seen the movie. That’s good enough for me.

            We could say the same thing about the Divine Service. Once we’ve seen the Body and Blood of Christ distributed, every week is a repeat performance. We know the sermon will feature Jesus. There will be Law and Gospel, sin and grace. Isn’t once a week enough? I have my Bible. I have my prayer book. I’ll give it a look-see at home.

            We rob ourselves of an inexpressible blessing when we despise meeting together to hear the Word of Life. We are also guilty of contempt of God’s Word. Jesus says in John chapter eight: Whoever is of God hears the words of God. Notice Jesus does not say that the person finds other ways to apply the Word of God. He hears the Word with others in the Lord’s House. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, [let us] not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

            Judgment Day is one day closer than it was yesterday. That’s one day less to contemplate the suffering and death of Christ. This is the Word of the cross that Saint Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians and Galatians. We cannot hear and contemplate the suffering of Christ enough. We cannot allow others, even our own selves, to stop crying out, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

            Jesus asks the blind man, what do you want Me to do for you? He responds, Lord, let me recover my sight. The Greek New Testament says the blind man responds to Jesus, Lord, that I might see again. Once we were spiritually blind, spiritually dead, and unable to convert ourselves. We know to turn to the Lord but we can’t see the Lord, let alone know where to turn to see Him. Jesus stands still long enough to hear our cries for mercy and answer them according to His good and gracious will. Jesus says to the blind man, and to us, Recover your sight; your faith has made you well. In the Greek, Jesus speaks back to the man what he first spoke to Him, See again. Your faith has saved you.

            The blind man calls Jesus Son of David. This is no ordinary appellation. Son of David is a Messianic title. King David writes in Psalm 110: The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Jesus asks the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 22: If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son? The Pharisees wouldn’t answer. Any answer would incriminate them. The Son of David is Mary’s Son, the only-begotten Word. The prophet Isaiah writes Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

            See again Jesus Christ’s passion. See again Jesus Christ stricken, smitten, and afflicted, lying on the throne of the cross as King of the Jews and the hope of the Gentiles. See again the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, the love that Saint Paul writes about in today’s Epistle. The love of God in Christ Jesus is the love that we show in our daily lives. It is more than love between a man and a woman that is often portrayed as the theme of 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Paul speaks about a love that transcends marriage, prophecies, speaking in tongues, and other spiritual gifts.

            Jesus heals the blind man because He loves Him. Jesus heals us from sin in His blood and righteousness because He loves His Father’s creation. His harsh, but lovely death on our behalf brings us again into communion with our Creator. Not only do we see again, we also taste again. The Lord’s Supper is eating and drinking the forgiveness of sins won by Christ at Calvary. As the Psalmist writes: Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! God’s amazing grace in His means: Word, water, bread, and wine, are our sustenance as we walk the road glorifying God for our sight, our taste, and our redemption.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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