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Quinquagesima – Luke 18:31-43

by pastorjuhl ~ January 29th, 2008

We are privileged to have a guest proclaimer this weekend at Our Savior, Momence. Here’s a sermon I wrote in 2005 for Quinquagesima.

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

How blind could the disciples be? They have walked with Jesus for quite some time. They have heard Him predict His passion at least twice before, according to Saint Luke’s Gospel. They had to have some working knowledge of the Old Testament from the synagogue worship. It should be crystal clear that Jesus is about to take them on the ride of their lives as they descend to Jerusalem to watch the greatest moment in the history of the world unfold before their eyes.

But they don’t get it. This handing over to the Gentiles, this mocking, insulting, spitting, scourging, killing, and rising from the dead talk doesn’t make any sense. Why would their Lord permit these things to happen? Couldn’t God choose someone else?

Jesus is no victim of circumstance. He is not picked by the wheel of fortune to be the Suffering Servant. He is the One Who will open the eyes of the blind…and not merely the eyes of physical blindness. He opens our eyes to see Him clearly fulfill all that the Prophets wrote about the redemption of creation.

It takes a blind man begging and crying to show us how foolish we are. As we prepare to ponder the Passion of the Christ, thoughts start to stream in our mind about all the terrible things Jesus suffered for us. If only Pontius Pilate had had the backbone to act on his own convictions…and his wife’s amazing dreams. If only the crowd had the sense to ask for Jesus instead of Barabbas. If only Jesus had performed a miracle before Herod when Pilate sent Jesus to him. We “if only” Jesus to death each Lent. The thoughts of “poor little Jesus” and “I wish He wouldn’t have suffered so” marginalize the importance of our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

Here’s another “if only”: If only Jesus would not have considered equality with the Father something not to be desired. If only the Holy Ghost would not have conceived our Lord Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If only Jesus would have never been born. If only Adam and Eve would have stayed in the Garden of Eden and eaten from the Tree of Life.

If those were true then we could say with a longing heart, “If only God cared enough to send someone to redeem us instead of letting us live in sin forever and die in sin to eternal hell.” If Jesus does not allow His Father to hand Him over to the Gentiles, then we remain in sin forever with God’s everlasting promise of redemption broken.

God is not in the promise-breaking business. God is in the business of having mercy on those who place their trust in Him. This is what the blind man outside of Jericho shows us. He hears a crowd passing by and wonders what all the fuss is about. Someone told him, Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. There are two ways of responding. One is to know Jesus as merely a citizen of Nazareth who says and does things that shake the foundation of the world. The other is to cry out as the blind man does: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! This is a cry of faith. The blind man knows more than the disciples seem to know! Though he cannot see, he confidently cries out to the Son of David to have mercy on him. After the crowd tells him to be quiet, he raises his volume and continues to cry, Son of David, have mercy on me! Faith has eyes of its own and sees right to the fact that Jesus is the Son of David and therefore the Son of God.

The original Greek language of the New Testament shows us much more than any English translation ever could. Jesus literally stops in His tracks and asks the man to be brought to Him. Jesus asks the blind man what he wants. He responds, Lord, that I may see again. Jesus answers him in the Greek with two words: See again! Then He adds, Your faith has saved you. The same voice that created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it brings sight to the blind.

This same voice longs to hear your cries for mercy and healing. Yet so often we think Jesus need not be bothered with our problems. Sometimes we think He is too busy dealing with other problems and has no time for li’l ol’ me. Thoughts like these place us with His disciples in foolish blindness. Jesus drops everything to take care of our cries for mercy.

The blind man receives more than earthly sight. He receives the forgiveness of sins. His eyes are open to see not merely Christ in the flesh. He now has eyes to see clearly the gift of everlasting life. All this is our Lord’s doing. He opened your eyes here at the font that the stain of sin may be washed away. You now see clearly through the eyes of faith. You see not merely statues, signs, and pictures of Jesus. You see Him place His True Body and Blood in your mouth in Holy Communion. You taste and see that the Lord is good. You are in communion with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pack your bags because we are about to go on a trip. It begins on a mountainside where our Lord teaches us about fasting and prayer. From there we go into the wilderness to see Him overcome Satan’s temptations. Then we follow Him into Jerusalem, where little children sing out “Hosanna! Save us now, O King!” On we go to the Upper Room where Christ teaches us all about love and places that love in our mouths and lives through the New Testament of the Lord’s Supper. Then it’s on to Gethsemane, the Praetorium, and Golgotha where we see even His Father forsake Him. Blood is shed. He takes His last breath. God is dead. After the Sabbath rest in the tomb we go with the Holy Women to see Him not in the tomb. He is arisen! Death is swallowed up by life!

The disciples could not put the pieces together until after Jesus had risen from the dead. Our Lord opened their minds and their eyes to see the big picture of the redemption of the world. God has taken away your blindness with His blood. The eyes of faith are ever focused upon Jesus, Who is ready to do His Father’s will and make all things new.

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

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