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Quinquagesima – Luke 18:31-43

by pastorjuhl ~ February 19th, 2009

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

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature…. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. The Lord spoke these words to Samuel when he went to Jesse’s house to anoint the new king of Israel. Samuel looked at all the sons of Jesse and thought God was looking for someone handsome, strong, or king-like. God wanted the runt of the litter. God chose David because of the attitude of his heart, not because he looked like a king.

Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature. The Lord’s words to Samuel serve as an excellent reminder concerning Jesus Christ according to the flesh. There is nothing remarkable about Jesus. He has no indelible mark on His body that shows He is the Son of God. He is a Nazarene born of a virgin mother and a carpenter stepfather. Jesus is a salt of the earth guy who has perfect knowledge of God and man. Yet He cloaks His perfection in skin and lives as you and I live with one exception: Jesus does not sin.

Perhaps it is that salt of the earth demeanor that turns so many people away from Jesus Christ. Maybe they expect the Lord to be holier than thou; showing by word and deed that He is the Christ and we are expected to follow in His footsteps. We should follow in His steps as redeemed children of God, but we cannot follow Him upon the cross and die for our sins. Jesus alone redeems us from sin, death, and hell. Maybe some people expect Jesus to be like the Wizard of Oz, doing little magic tricks and using scare tactics to show He is awesome and we are not awesome. We are not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain manipulating Jesus. We are to do as He says so no one gets hurt. We cannot do perfectly the things of God. Even our best efforts to do the God job fall short of the mark our heavenly Father expects.

So what are we to think of our Lord when He tells His disciples we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. What do you mean “we”, Lord? You mean You expect me to walk with You all the way to the bitter end? These things that are written by the prophets shouldn’t happen. You are Jesus, the very Son of God! You’re not supposed to suffer a common criminal’s death. You’re supposed to take care of us! Aren’t You going to re-establish the kingdom among us? Aren’t You going to stop the storms of life from turning over our boat? Aren’t You the Bread of Life and Living Water from heaven? You can’t just up and leave us now! Things are really cooking around here!

Those who have the clearest vision of Christ cannot see. Perhaps it’s better to say the twelve refuse to see. Their vision is fine, except in matters of salvation. The twelve understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken. Jesus could not be clearer concerning what was to happen. The prophets could not be clearer concerning what Messiah would do. Yet the twelve are blind when it comes to Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection.

We are blind when it comes to Christ’s Passion, death, and resurrection. When we go our own way and believe our good works, deeds, and thoughts gain us eternal life, we have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Saint Paul’s words to the church in Corinth are quite familiar to us. Paul speaks of love; not merely love between a man and a woman. Paul speaks of love that flows from God through us because of Christ’s love for us. Nevertheless, there are times when we take full credit for Christ’s love through us. The Beatles once sang “All You Need is Love”. If that love is centered in building up self rather than showing the love of Christ, then love is not what we need. Repentance is what we need.

What the twelve needs is to see again. Jesus opens their eyes by healing a blind man. The healing itself is a sign of Jesus as Lord. What is more amazing is what comes from this blind man’s mouth. When he is told Jesus of Nazareth is passing by, he cries out Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Twice the blind man calls Jesus Son of David. The blind man knows more than the twelve! The name “Son of David” is a Messianic title. “Son of David” proclaims that Jesus is the Sent One from the house and lineage of David. When King David wrote in Psalm 110: The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” He was writing about Jesus Christ.

How could a blind man sitting by the road to Jericho know more about Who Jesus is than twelve men who are long-term eyewitnesses of Jesus’ words and deeds? All the blind man had was the Word spoken to Him. The Word created faith in Christ and sustained him even though he was blind. The Word of the Lord gave Him clear vision to see that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of God Who comes as a carpenter’s Son from Nazareth in Galilee to save God’s people from their sins. The eyes deceive us, because they see merely a man speaking and performing amazing things. The ears do not deceive us, because they hear the Word that creates and sustains trust in the God Who saves us from sin and death and delivers forgiveness and life through humble, earthly means.

The blind man who now can see gets up and walks with Jesus, the twelve, and those who follow Jesus to Jerusalem. He is a walking sermon that proclaims what Jesus comes to do for all of us, no matter if we are one of His intimates or a straggler by the side of the road. Remember Jesus’ sermon in the Nazareth synagogue when He read the prophet Isaiah: The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD. These words from Isaiah are fulfilled in our hearing as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. It is His good pleasure to walk before us into the holy city of Jerusalem not as a man of war, but as a man of sorrows. The prophet Isaiah says He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

The punishment we deserve for our sin goes on Jesus; the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is the One the prophets say will reconcile the Father to His people. Jesus is the One Who will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again. Satan cannot accuse us any longer, for Jesus was accused on our behalf. Though He is innocent, He is charged guilty and suffers the consequences of our guilt for us. He sheds His blood so our sins may be covered and our debt paid in full.

Holy Lent is the season when we focus on the coming Passion of the Christ. It is a season of penitence, yet that penitential tone has an underpinning of joy. We know the outcome of Christ’s Passion. We believe His death and resurrection cleanses us from all sins and paves the way for our future resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven with Jesus. While we wait to walk with the Lord in heaven, we walk on earth with holy waiting and holy hope. While we wait, we are served with holy things under simple means: water, word, bread, and wine delivering forgiveness, life, and salvation. These simple things are not much to see, but neither was David and neither was our Lord Jesus. However, we pay no attention to good looks, height, weight, or any other character trait. We listen to the Words of life that flow from Christ’s mouth, bespeaking us righteous and forgiven from eternal condemnation. Jesus’ Words alone heal our blindness from sin and allow us to see clearly the road that leads to our eternal Home.

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

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