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Quinquagesima Notes – Luke 18:31-43

by pastorjuhl ~ February 16th, 2009

Luke 18:31 is the third Passion prediction (the first two are in Luke chapter nine). The parallel passage in Matthew 20 has two blind men. Both Matthew 20 and Mark 10 include the sons of Zebedee’s request between the prediction and the blind man’s healing. Luke excludes the Sons of Zebedee’s request but includes the Twelve’s argument over greatness to 22:24-27 during the night of Christ’s betrayal.

Pertinent Passages from Holy Scripture

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle — I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying — a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Timothy 2:5-7 NKJV).

Then [Jesus] came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town” (Mark 8:22-26 NKJV).

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9:1-7 NKJV).

Pius Parsch, “The Church’s Year of Grace”

The Church’s mood is less despondent and more confident than on the previous two Sundays.

The Pre-Lent journey is vocation -> instruction -> enlightenment

Vocation – Parable of the laborers in the vineyard — How are we called to faith?

Instruction – Parable of the sower and the soils — How is the Word of faith spread?

Enlightenment – Healing of a blind man — How are we brought to see salvation?

Fred Lindemann, “The Sermon and the Propers”

If fellowship with Christ is to be real and the journey to be of eternal blessing, the first step must lead up to Jericho, and we must see ourselves in the blind man sitting by the wayside begging.

Early Church Fathers

Listen now to their functions. The first of them, who is clasping hands, is called Faith. Through her the elect of god are saved (Shepherd of Hermas, Vis. 3, Ch. 8, Vs. 3).

[The blind man’s] courage was not hindered by their rebukes, for faith learns to withstand all things, and to overcome all things; and in the service of God it is profitable to put aside timidity. For if many thrust themselves forward for the sake of gain, should not a man put timidity aside for his soul’s salvation? (Cyril of Alexandria)

For here is a great mystery. [Jesus] was passing by when this man began to cry out: when He healed him He stood still. Let Christ’s passing by make us prepared to cry out. what is Christ’s passing by? Whatsoever He has endured for us here is His passing by. He was born, He passed by: for is He yet being born? He grew up, He passed by; is He yet growing up? He was suckled: is He yet suckled? When weary He slept: does He yet sleep? he ate and He drank: does He yet do this? At the last He was seized, He was bound with ropes, He was beaten, He was crowned with thorns, He was struck by blows, He was defiled with spittle, He was hung on a Cross, He was put to death, He was pierced by a lance, He was buried, He rose again. Till then He passes by.

He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father: He stands still. Cry out all you can: now He will give thee light. For that in Him the Word was with God, He has of a surety stood still; since He was not changed. And the Word was God: and the Word was made Flesh. The Flesh has wrought many things through passing by, and suffered many. The Word has stood still. by this Word the soul is enlightened; as by this Word the flesh which He took on is adorned. Take away the Word, what then of the flesh? It is as yours. That the flesh of Christ be honored, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us. Let us live virtuously, and so cry out to Him (St. Augustine).

Dom Prosper Gueranger, “The Liturgical Year”

The ancient liturgists tell us that the blind man of Jericho spoken of in this same Gospel is a figure of those poor sinners, who, during these days, are blind to their Christian character, and rush into excesses, which even paganism would have coveted. The blind man recovered his sight, because he was aware of his wretched state, and desired to be cured and to see. The Church wishes us to have a like desire, and she promises us that it shall be granted (4:185-186).

Jesus tells His apostles that His better Passion is at hand; it is a mark of His confidence in them; but they understand not what He says. They are as yet too carnal minded to appreciate our Savior’s mission; still they do not abandon Him; they love Him too much to think of separating from Him (4:191).

Blessed Johann Gerhard’s Postil

Whoever wants to be a true Christian must of course be grateful to Christ for His suffering and death. However, how can a person thank Christ for His suffering and death if one does not frequently think about it? If a person is to ponder fruitfully Christ’s suffering and death, then one must frequently hear this preached (1:212).

If we were to view His manifold external suffering and agony, we would thereby be greatly saddened and sympathetic. However, if we look past that and view His inward heart, of how He in particular suffered all this willingly, then that will give us true comfort for the soul. For the brightness of His inward body shines on through the dark, dreary cloud of the external pain and quickens and renews our souls (1:213).

Blessed C.F.W. Walther’s Postil

After Christ’s appearance the predictions of Christ’s suffering and death have lost none of their meaning and power. Rather then first they become truly meaningful and effective. After all these prophecies were fulfilled to the last letter, so to say before the eyes of the whole world, after he who was crucified in weakness also actually arose in glory from the dead on the third day, with heightened effect the fulfilled prophecies call to all men, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor 5:19). “Be ye reconciled with God” (2 Cor. 5:20). The prophets’ predictions of Christ’s suffering and death have become a well from which even at the time of the Old Testament a wide, full stream of grace and salvation flowed forth; they invited all nations to slake their thirst from it freely and without price.

Blessed George Stoeckhardt’s Postil

True Christianity is this, that one resists the allurements and enjoyments of this world to the quick, that one crucifies the world. Such a Christ with scourges, cross, blood, and wounds, such a Lord and King our flesh and carnal heart resist with all their might. If we wish to remain disciples of Jesus, we must inure eyes and heart to scourge and bonds, to welts and bruises, to cross and agony. And so we must continue in Jesus’ Word and hear and learn what He tells us about His cross. Ah, we still hold the old, mortal, transitory life so dear. Love of life still motivates and fills all the members and the inclinations of the heart.

The new life, the life of conversion, the divine, eternal life is still a foreign entity as far as we are concerned. Sure, we desire eternal life after this temporal life. But is it really our heart’s desire right now, at this very moment, to be taken out of temporal life and to be translated into eternal life? Ah, we still need the Word about Christ’s death and resurrection: “they will put Him to death: and the third day He shall rise again.” We cannot be told these words enough: “through death to resurrection”. Our salvation depends on Christ’s death. From it flows life. We should proclaim Jesus’  death, carry Jesus’ dying around with us at all times, die daily. The true life, for which we hunger and thirst, for which we should be reaching with whole heart is: the life after resurrection, life everlasting.

Only he who has truly recognized his misery is able to look to Jesus’ help. Yes, it is necessary for us first to take a good look at our misery, then only will we be able to look to the plan of God’s grace. Only he who sees and feels sin appreciates grace. And Jesus opens our eyes to our sinful corruption as well. He shows us sin also through the Word of the cross. He opens up to us the depths and abysses of human corruption. The Son of man will be delivered up to those in Jerusalem. Jews and Gentiles, all men and those in high places are one in their hatred of God’s Anointed. Not simply because they refuse obedience to their God and go their own ways, no, the thinking and planning, the activities of men and nations constitute rebellion against their God and King.

Blessed Martin Luther’s House Postil

That a person should have the forgiveness of sins, God’s grace and mercy, without having earned it, through the water of baptism and through absolution, seems like an utter falsehood to human reason. It argues, Christians who believe that are balmy and off-the-wall; if God is to be reconciled, there must be something higher and better, namely, good works, which demand pain and sweat from us. This harmonizes with the pope’s example, which we have before our eyes, and by his preaching he directs people to their own merits.

It does not even occur to human reason to believe that alone by baptism and faith in Christ, everything necessary for salvation is done. Reason holds that to be a falsehood. For it does not know what faith is, deeming faith in Christ a trifling thing. In the same way the Word is seen as a paltry thing and the one who urges and preaches it as a poor, miserable, and sinful creature. That one should trust and wager body and life for eternity upon faith and the Word, both such insignificant things, is ridiculous to reason. That’s the reason why, even though God’s Word is plainly spoken to people, human reason does not comprehend, does not believe, declares it to be untrue; and the precious gospel, the meanwhile, is labeled as heresy and a teaching of the devil by which people are misled, teaching them not to do good works. Human reason knows no other verdict.

For that reason we should learn to believe with ingenuous faith and say, If it’s God’s Word, I cannot doubt it in any way; and, even though I cannot see, touch, or feel that it is true, nonetheless, I listen because God is speaking. He is so great and mighty that He can make it true, so that in His good time, or in the life to come, I will be able to comprehend and understand it, yes, see and grasp it, even though I don’t understand it now (1:304).

We should learn from the blind man so to bring our petitions and our needs to Christ, confidently trusting that He will hear us and grant our petitions (1:310).

This example teaches us that we should be bold, clamoring beggars who do not grow weary but say, Lord, it is true, I am a poor, unworthy sinner, indeed; but nonetheless I have need of this and that. I have wife and child, and have nothing to feed them; Lord, give  us food. I am desperate, and need your comfort, Lord, help me. It is not a question of whether I am a saint; only one thing matters, that I am in need, and that you gladly give what is needful for my body and soul (1:310-311).

Hymn Plan for 2009: LSB 562, 685, 573/836, 527

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