Sermon – Luke 18.31-43 (Quinquagesima – 2022)

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. (Lk. 18:31-43 NKJ)

These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed,

Our Epistle reading is the famous passage about love. It gives us a beautiful description of love.

Sadly, the world’s view of love is so messed up. It paints a very different picture.

Some view love as not something we do and give, but something that is received from others. Or some might view love is something that is conditional. It is reserved only for those like us, or those who love us, those who are at or above our socioeconomic status. Or love is given only to those who we think deserve it. If a friend stabs you in the back, or a loved one lets you down or leaves you, well, the world would expect you to remove your love from them, as though love, or the taking it away from someone, was a weapon or a bargaining chip. How often does it happen when a dating couple one minute tells each other that they love each other, and the next after the break up, they say that they hate each other. Was there really love there in the first place?

Now, of course there are different kinds of love. There is romantic love, love among family, love among friends, and love among neighbors. They are different, but the backbone of that love is all the same. That is the kind of love we’re talking about today.

All the world knows what love is to a certain extent, it is written on our hearts, for the natural law is summed up by love, but that knowledge of love is severely limited because we are fallen from the image of God. And our natural ability to show love is greatly diminished because of our sinful flesh.

Love, truly, is a generous, kind, and self-giving. We read about in our Epistle lesson and it is exemplified by Jesus in our Gospel text today.

So listen, sinners, to what love is. It all starts with God’s love for you.

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem. On His way there He was about to make His way through Jericho. A blind beggar heard the commotion of the crowd with Jesus. Upon learning who it was walking through Jericho, he started shouting out to Jesus, trying to get His attention.

But the people were rebuking the man. Basically they told him to be quiet and be invisible. In their minds, this blind beggar was not to be heard. He was not considered to be worthy of the attention of Christ. There was no love and mercy in their hearts to this man in need. Instead of viewing him a man worthy of being loved, they viewed him as a nuisance that should remain quiet.

The blindman’s suffering is a sad consequence of mankind’s fall into sin. Yet, with as poor as this blind man’s condition was, so much worse is the condition of the hearts of the crowd that refused to show love to this man. We share in this sin.

So, then, who are we to call out to God like the blind man? Who are we that God should love us, care for us, or even give us His attention? Why should He pay us mind when our love has mimicked the twisted love of the world rather than the perfect love and goodness commanded in the Commandments. Why should God show us love, when we have been impatient and unkind, when we have envied and puffed ourselves up with pride and arrogance; when we have been rude; when we have not put other’s needs or cares first, but rather insisted on our own way, when we have been irritable and resentful, when we have tolerated and rejoiced in the wrongdoing of others, when we have disposed of the truth for peace; when our love has failed.

But you sinners sitting in the rubble of this world, bearing the guilt of your lack of love, and hurt by the lack of love in the world, look who enters the world? Look at the One who has stepped into Jericho: See, He is Love incarnate! “God is Love!” He does not pass the blind beggar by, nor does He pass us by! But He stops before the blind beggar, has compassion on him, loves Him, and heals Him. And for the blind beggar, and for you, He makes His way to Jerusalem. Jesus told His disciples what was about to happen: “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. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.

Here we see God’s love for the blind, the weak, the beggar, the sinners, the broken, His love for us. In love, God goes to Jerusalem to give up His life for you. His sacrifice on the cross is not just an example of love for you, but it is the active love that takes away all your sins, that heals your souls, gives you peace with God, and saves you from death and hell!

And though the devil accuses you, telling you to be quiet, that God cannot love you, or perhaps it is the world, or your own guilt that burdens you causing you to think that the God of all heaven and earth cannot love you and give you His attention and care, remember the great love God has for you. And thus shout with the faith of the blind beggar, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

And so in faith, we call upon Christ, our only Savior, because He loves us! We confess our sins to Him, to take away our sins, because in love He paid for them all on the cross. We call upon Him for His salvation, because in love He delivered us from death and hell. We cast all our cares and anxieties on Him, because He who loves you so much that He gave His own life into death that you may be His forever, cares for you as you live your lives in this vale of tears. He has promised to hear your prayers.

Your faith has made you well. We have been saved from the ruins of the fall and brought into His eternal kingdom through baptism. Christ has reached down into the heap, and by His suffering and death, has brought us into life and light! By faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are elevated to life as God’s dear children. We belong to God, who is love!

We know what love is!  “4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This is the true, good and noble love. And we have a firsthand knowledge of this love, because this is the perfect love of Christ for us!

And now Christ lives in us, that we being moved by the Holy Spirit may love with the same love Christ has shown to us! St. John writes, “We love, because God first loved us!” (1 John 4:19) With this love, we love our spouse, our family, our friends, our enemies, our neighbors, those different from us, those of different socioeconomic status, the downtrodden like the blind man, believers, and those who are still blind with unbelief.

As we strive to show the love of Christ to the world, which He so much loves, we find this to be an insurmountable task. Our love fall short. We fail. But Christ continues to love us. He calls us to His Word and Sacraments with repentant hearts, where He forgives us, and leads us to grow more and more into His love. Isn’t Christ’s love wonderful?! Christ’s love is inexhaustible. He blood bought forgiveness is always waiting for us! His scarred hands are opened wide for you! He continually gives you His word of salvation, giving you heaven itself! May the Lord lead us to grow more and more into His love, that we may continually find comfort and peace in Him, and grow in love toward our neighbor. May He grant this to you through His Word, and through His Sacrament which some of you are about to receive. 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.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto everlasting life. Amen.

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