Sermon – Luke 18.31-43 (Quinquagesima – 2019)
Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your prophets, you foretold the merciful work of Your Son, by which we have forgiveness and eternal life. Grant us, we pray, true faith that we may see and know Christ and His merciful works, so that we may call upon Him in our every need, and be saved eternally, through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.
32 “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.
33 “They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.
35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.
36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.
37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,
41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”
42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”
43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Faith in the Merciful Lord Is Saving Faith
Dear fellow redeemed,
What kind of God do we have? What is His attitude toward us? Is He near to us, or is He distant? Is He merciful? Is He wrathful? Is He cruel?
How do we believe Him to be? How do we approach Him in prayer?
Is God like a lazy parent, who loves His kids, but needs some urging to put the chips down and get off the couch to help? Such are the false teachings among many Pentecostals and American Evangelicals. You must pray enough, You must believe hard enough, you must pour your soul into what you ask and then God will give you whatever you ask. Such teachings almost make Christians like the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, who cut up their bodies in an attempt to get their idol to pay attention to them. God is merciful and helpful, only when we hold up our end. Prayer is seen as a means by which we get God to act for us.
Jesus condemns this approach to God and to prayer when He judged the heathens, who “think that they will be heard for their many words.” Jesus then said, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
God is not merciful to us because we believe in Him and pray to Him. It is the other way around. We believe in Him and pray to Him, because God is merciful.
This truth we will learn as we examine our Gospel text today. Through it, may our souls be comforted, our faith strengthened, and may we be led to boldly go before our gracious Lord as our dear Father.
A blind man sat along the road. Because of his blindness, he was not able to work, so he begged relying on the generosity of people to live. He heard a commotion coming, but didn’t know what it was about, so he asked. The people told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
This man knew immediately, that this wasn’t just a man from Nazareth, but that this was the Son of David. This was the Messiah, the king promised by God whose kingdom would have no end!
How does this blind beggar think that he is worthy of the attention of the Son of God? Wouldn’t the Son of God be more concerned about the strong, able, and influential people of the world, if that?
And the world tried to convince the blind beggar of that, too. Those who were in front rebuked the blind man, telling him to be silent.
Is that a possibility that crosses our minds as well? Think of all that God created, simply by the power of the Word. Everything visible and invisible, all was created by Him. And in this vast universe, there is this tiny planet earth. And then in this world of almost 7 billion people, here we are just a small few. Why would God pay attention to me? Why dare I approach this God so great, so mighty, so infinite?
Well, we know that man is the chief of God’s visible creation. We are God’s special creatures created in His image. But then all of us in Adam, rebelled against Him. And God is a just God. He loves good and hates sin. He punishes sinners. Consider how we have sinned against the 10 commandments. Have you served other gods by placing in our hearts, people, money, success, pleasure, health or other things above God? In regard to your relationships with your neighbor, have you loved your family, friend, and stranger with the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 which we read earlier in the service? Or have you rather been unkind, impatient and selfish?
There is no way around it. We are sinners. We carry each day this wretched sinful flesh, and each day this sinful flesh produces sin. So then, how would we dare approach God, so holy, righteous and just?
We take a lesson from the blind man. The blind man believed in Christ. He knew Christ to be a merciful God and king. He knew Christ to be the One who comes in mercy with healing and salvation for lowly sinners.
He knew what the prophets knew, for Jeremiah, who was often called to preach the harshness of God’s Law and Judgment over Judah, was also able to proclaim the mercy of God, saying, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness” (Lam 3:23). And the blind man knew what David knew about the mercies of God, for David wrote in Psalm 28(:6-9): “Blessed be the LORD, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.
8 The LORD is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
9 Save Your people, And bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, And bear them up forever.”
And here David’s son and David’s Lord came walking by. Because of the Lord’s mercy, and compassion for His people, the blind man cried out for mercy to heal him.
We have also come to this saving truth about the mercy of God. It is in His words to the disciples where we see the essence and source of God’s mercy: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. 33 “They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”
While mankind was blindly heading away from God, choosing to live in the filth of sin and unbelief, in the control of the devil toward eternal destruction, Christ was heading to Jerusalem for His mission of mercy to save us.
In mercy, He chooses to be nailed to a cross for you. In mercy, He chooses to take upon Himself the wrath of God which we deserve. In mercy, He suffers hell for you.
This mercy didn’t come about by man’s thinking, pleading or working. Rather it came solely from the heart and mind of God. He has mercy on our fallen and rebellious race, and so sends His Son to save us.
That is the kind of God you and I have. We believe in Him, seek forgiveness from Him, and pray to Him, because He is merciful.
God already mercifully provides for us both body and soul, before we even asked. He planned your salvation, even before the foundation of the world.
In His mercy He takes care of our eternal needs. He has already taken away all your sins for the sake of Christ. He sends you His Holy Spirit through His Word and Sacraments, bringing to you forgiveness of all your sins, life and salvation. You don’t have to be concerned about earning His mercy and forgiveness. You don’t have to think about whether you have to earn the right to approach God for His mercy. He is already merciful. He has already forgiven your sins. He already offers to you through His Word and Sacraments that same forgiveness. And so we put our faith in Him, and trusting in His mercy, we approach Him in prayer, asking from Him the merciful care for our eternal needs.
In His mercy He also takes care of our temporal needs. We don’t have to try to earn His attention, and earn the right to approach Him to ask Him for what we need for our bodies and lives. He mercifully gives it even before we ask. Jesus said, “The Father in heaven makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mt 5:45). We also have the promises of God who created us and redeemed us and loves us, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek, For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt 6:31-33). And so because He is merciful, we trust Him to keep us in our earthly lives, and so we approach Him in prayer, asking for His mercy.
The world may try to convince us, like they did with the blind man, that God doesn’t care about us. They may mock us for our trust in Him. Our own flesh may try to convince us of the same. Our sinful flesh may try to cause us to doubt, “Does God really love you? Can He really forgive you for this sin? Look at all the other people in the world who are more worthy of His love and care. Or look at how you suffer? Does God really care about you? He is not healing your or taking away your suffering?” But still like the blind man, we know God to be merciful to us. We only have to look at where Jesus was going. To Jerusalem. To the cross. To death. There is proof of His mercy. And He is risen from the dead, and our merciful Lord lives, and loves me and cares for me. He forgives me all my sins, grants me eternal life, and keeps me in my life on earth. And if He doesn’t take away my problems in this life, I know that His good and gracious and merciful will is for my eternal good, and in the life to come, there will be no more prayers of mercy, but only prayers of praise and thanksgiving. Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. Forevermore. Amen.