- Date: Sunday, February 19, 2012
- Speaker: Christopher Esget
- Passage: Luke 18:31–18:43
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
You have not loved your neighbor as God demands; thus all your words are as sounding brass or clanging cymbals, noise steeped in hypocrisy. You have not suffered long with your neighbor, but lost your temper and spoken ill of him. You have not been kind, but instead have envied what your neighbor has.
Have you paraded yourself or been puffed up? Then you have not love. Have you behaved rudely, been arrogant and boastful? Then you have not love.
You have sought your own, measuring everything by what pleases you. Too easily you have been provoked, and your mind has been steeped in evil, thinking on it, ruminating on it, fantasizing about it. Have you rejoiced in iniquity, taken pleasure and delight in things you know are displeasing to God? Then you have not love.
Love bears all things, endures all things, but you have not borne with others in their weakness, but instead you have judged them, condemned them. You would like your sins to be forgiven, but have been harsh and cruel to others when they have sinned.
Though you now should have grown to great maturity, you still speak as a child, understand as a child, think as a child.
And for all this you deserve God’s judgment. You have merited His wrath and displeasure, punishment now in this life, and everlasting death. Who are you, O man, to judge God? Who are you, to call Him unjust? The whole mass of humanity is steeped in rebellion, and would you shake your fist at God and call Him unfair for His judgment?
God is the potter and you are the clay; God makes and man is made (Deus facit, homo fit) - you who would judge God, judge yourself, for once take a good honest look at your life and see how you have given way in every respect to pride, hubris, laziness, and immorality. You are curved in on yourself. You have not love, you have not been, lived, or spoken as a child of God.
But for all this, for all your lack of love, for all humanity’s lack of love, God comes not to judge but to be judged. The Son of Man, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Word became flesh precisely so that after demonstrating His love in every act of compassion and kindness, through healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, feeding the hungry and raising the dead – so that after all these demonstrations of love, He could announce to His disciples one last great act of love: the atonement of the world’s sin and the dying of man’s death: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. And they will scourge Him and put Him to death. and the third day he will rise again.” This is how He demonstrates His love, by giving Himself over to the death we deserve, the judgment we deserve, the hell we deserve.
This is how He loves you. But the disciples do not see it. They cannot comprehend a judge who judges by being judged, they cannot fathom a messiah who conquers by being conquered, they cannot see the redemption of the world in the death of God’s Son. They cannot see any any of this.
But behold, immediately after we hear that the disciples cannot see, we encounter a blind man. He who cannot see nevertheless sees. And how does he see? With his ears. The ears become the instruments of sight. He hears the tumult and commotion, a great throng on the road to Jericho. “What is happening?” the blind man asks. They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth is coming.”
The contingent of seeing men with Jesus do not see, but this blind man sees and knows that Jesus is incarnate mercy, incarnate love, the incarnate God who is love. And so he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” But this blind man is regarded as a nobody. He’s a beggar, doubtless bedraggled, with a noxious odor. “Be silent!” they hiss at him.
Is this not what the world says to you? Your church is a nuisance, an obstacle to our plans to remake society. Be silent! You may be a Christian in your church, but keep it to yourself. Be silent!
And then your conscience chimes in as well. Be silent! You have no right to call upon God. You are a worthless, wretched sinner. Be silent! And so after you have succumbed to this or that sin, you think, “Now I cannot pray, for God will not accept prayers from a hypocrite such as me. I will be silent.”
At other times doubts creep in. Why should I call upon God? He is not listening, perhaps He does not exist. I have heard tales of wondrous stories long ago, but we have not heard from this God in an exceedingly long time. Be silent!
And so you obey these voices, and meekly, timidly focus only on what you can see, feel, grasp and obtain for yourself. Learn from the blind man who sees! Learn from the bedraggled beggar who will not be silent!
Thus rebuked, he cries out all the more, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus does. The blind man recovers his sight, and seeing with his eyes what he has already seen with his mind, he praises God and becomes a disciple of Jesus.
He follows Jesus. To where? To the cross. For that is where Jesus is going. Not by Himself. He is taking us with Him. It is a road of sadness and loss, violence and poverty, agony and strife. But at the end, life. For on the third day, Jesus will rise again from the dead. That is the journey we are setting out upon, as Lent begins this Wednesday. It is a journey with Jesus to His cross. But on the other side of the cross is eternal life. And through it all, the love of God for us loveless, selfish sinners.
So cry out to Him as the blind man, begging His mercy. He who is love, and has already loved you to the end, will surely give it.
In the Name of Jesus.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Rev. Christopher S. Esget
Pastor, Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church