Monday, February 16, 2015

The Sunday on the Way to Jerusalem and Healing of a Blind Man (Quinquagesima)

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said" (Luke 18:31-43).

Today’s Gospel is simple yet profound. First, Christ tells the disciples about His suffering and death; and second, He makes the blind man see. Our Lord says “the Son of Man will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and the third day he will rise.” Luke, our Gospel writer, makes a strong point over the fact that none of the disciples understand at all what Jesus is talking about when he described his awful death on the cross.

This isn’t to say they were dumb. The disciples knew all the Scriptures. They were smart guys. They knew all the history of Moses and the prophets. They knew all about David and Solomon and the history of Israel. 

What they didn’t understand is that all the Scriptures pointed to Christ, namely that the Messiah, the Savior, promised from the foundation of the world - is a man who suffers and dies in their place.  

Jesus is the one who takes Isaac’s place on the wooden altar at Mount Moriah. He is the ram caught in a crown of thorns, He is the promise that the Lord will provide. It is his blood painted over the doorposts of those living in slavery under Pharaoh. He is Joshua who leads the people of God into the promised Land. He is Jonah in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, yet risen, spit up the third day – to preach repentance for forgiveness of sins. 

He is David slaying Goliath, slinging a stone of death between the devil’s eyes – by dying on the cross. Jacob’s ladder to heavens points to him. They knew all these stories but it was lost upon them that Jesus was the fulfilment of it all. Jesus himself said “all of the Scriptures testify to me.” 

On Easter afternoon Jesus said to his still doubting disciples “O foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory…these are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms but be fulfilled.” 

The disciples were slow to get it but this is the Messiah that they desperately needed, and sometimes we are slow to understand that this is precisely the Savior that we need. Who else is going to save you from hell and God’s judgment? Who else will spare you from the fiery wrath against all sin?  Who else, if not Christ, will suffer for your sins and take all the punishment? Who else will die for you, all so that you can be raised from your grave – to live with God – and sing eternally in His kingdom high above the heavens? Who else, but Christ, is capable of introducing you to a kind and heavenly Father who loves you? Who else can put you in the company of angels, so you can be friends with them and children of God?

The disciples are slow to understand what sort of Messiah this is and we are slow too when it comes to relishing and savoring the holy cross as we truly should. But while we miss the point, the blind man in our Gospel today does not miss a beat. 

This poor beggar on the side of the road cries out desperately for help to Jesus. When the disciples tell him to be quiet and hush up, he cries out all the more “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus simply asks him “What do you want me to do for you?” And without any hesitation the blind man, without any doubt that he would be heard, confidently made his request saying “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

Instantly the man’s sight was recovered. He could see. Jesus performed a miracle on him and he sang and glorified God because his sins were forgiven. Before he saw only darkness, death, and the terror of his own sins, but now his eyes are opened basking in glorious light – the gate of heaven has swung open. And the first thing he saw was the face of Jesus and therefore he saw a new life through the forgiveness of sins. He was blind but now he sees.  

We can learn a lot from the blind man this morning. We should learn to expect and demand miracles in our life. We should ask for big things. If you’re sick ask for perfect health. If you’re unhappy ask for a greater measure of joy for who else can provide it but the Lord of life? If your children rebel against you ask that their hearts would be turned again toward you in love.   

If you have lost loved ones ask that they would be raised so that you can see them again and hold them. When we don’t pray for these things we assume that God is powerless and can’t help. How foolish! Learn from the blind man where and how to find help. Jesus does not need any more silent disciples, he expects his followers to ask him for what they need and also for what they want, and he is always more ready to give, than we to receive.   

But now we behold a miracle of miracles. We ask God to turn bread into his body and wine into His blood. And lo, and behold he does. Our eyes are opened. We see the risen Lord. We beg for his help and help he does. He calms our anxious hearts with the forgiveness of sins. He quiets our weary souls with the peace of God. By receiving his body and blood we have the joy of a good conscience and the assurance that everything we ask in him name he will surely give us.

So expect and demand miracles in your life. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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