“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.” This is the word of the Lord.
Our Lord this morning gives some straight talk right there. He tells it like it is. That the prophets all wrote of Him. That He’ll be betrayed, handed over, mocked and mistreated. They’ll torture Him and nail Him to a cross. But the Father will raise Him from the dead. That’s what Jesus says in our Gospel this morning. And it’s all to secure for us forgiveness and eternal salvation.
There’s no way to miss the meaning of Jesus’ words here, and yet, St. Luke wants to make it abundantly clear to us that the disciples didn’t understand any of His words – figuratively, they were blind to what He was saying.
So how interesting that, at that very moment of their blindness, they come upon a blind man, a man who can’t see, begging on the side of the road. And when he hears that Jesus is near, he cries out loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The crowds wanted that blind man to hush up, but that he didn’t do. He cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Interesting, isn’t it? Jesus’ own disciples are blind to Jesus’ words about His passion, His death, but here’s this blind man – he’s got eyes to see. Even before the miracle, the eyes of faith of this blind man are clear and vivid. All because he recognizes who Jesus is and His mission as well. He recognizes by this cry of faith that Jesus is God in the flesh. The creator who will show ultimate mercy by dying on a cross in Jerusalem, so that, by His grace, He might restore and recreate fallen humanity. The blind man is not so blind after all.
Jesus comes right up to him. “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, let me recover my sight,” the man said. Those gray eyes were flooded with color and light. The eyes of that blind man fluttered and opened. And the first thing that man saw was the face of the Lord – a face of mercy – a face of compassion and love. His eyes were open. “Your faith has saved you,” said Jesus. A faith that believed in the promise of the Gospel. And a faith that clearly saw all the promises of God coming to a glorious fulfilment in the flesh of Jesus – God’s own Son.
Being miraculously healed, that man glorified and worshipped God and followed Him. After all, Jesus was going to Jerusalem. To go to that place of ultimate healing – the cross.
Isaiah foretold it all. Seven hundred years before Christ was born in Bethlehem, he prophesied: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.”
This morning Jesus could not have been clearer about His mission to His disciples. He would suffer and die for the sins of the world. But this saying, the words of Jesus, sadly were hidden from their eyes. They didn’t grasp what He said. Peter had once made the mistake of trying to persuade Jesus not to go to the cross. But that Jesus didn’t tolerate. “Get behind me Satan,” He said to Peter.
In one way or another, the other disciples here are making the same mistake – preferring a bloodless Savior – and a crossless Christ. But let’s be clear. There’s no saving without the shedding of His innocent blood. No Savior apart from that torn flesh. And there’s no Christ – no mercy – apart from that holy cross – and His sacrificial death.
These days things are a little more hospitable to blind folks, like the man in today’s Gospel. You can get glasses, laser surgery, or make use of an array of social services. The world is kinder in that respect. But for spiritual sight and acuity, maybe things have never been worse than the days we all live in. We live in a consumer culture focused on entertainment and complete and total self-absorption. Parents raise their children only to get the best grades, the best job, the perfect wedding, and perfect house – only to wind up in hell. Spiritually deaf, dumb, and blind.
As we prepare for Ash Wednesday this week, and our Lenten journey begins, it’s not a bad time to ask yourself how your vision is. How focused are you on your own problems? Have you turned a blind eye to the needs of those around you – your neighbor – or even those who live under the same roof – or share a dorm room?
The truth is, these eyes are often cloudy and dim because of sin. Focused only on ourselves. But what’s worse, we are blind to the love of God.
On the afternoon of our Lord’s resurrection, the day He rose from the dead, there were a couple disciples walking along blindly too, thinking that all was lost after the Savior they hoped in breathed His last on a cross. They sure didn’t see any good that could come out of that.
Well, the resurrected Christ came walking right alongside them and rebuked them with these words, “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?”
Their eyes still didn’t recognize Him – the risen Christ who walked along their side. But when that stranger sat at the table, and took bread, blessed it, and gave it to them to eat, well, then their eyes were opened like they were never opened before.
For in that resurrection meal, they saw clearly with 20/20 vision the risen Christ, and learned also right where He was to be found. In a lavish, eye-opening feast, where there is forgiveness, life, and salvation. When those disciples reached out for that heavenly food, they could taste and see that the Lord is good.
Look at that blind man in today’s Gospel, now restored with 20/20 vision, and see a picture of yourself. Rescued. Baptized, healed, and richly forgiven, eyes focused on Jesus, and glorifying God.
On this Valentine’s Day, we have every reason to have our hearts in the right place. Because the life of love that God created us for, and the love that we have not produced, He Himself has given.
After all, Jesus is patient and kind. He does not envy or boast. He does not rejoice with wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth, because He is the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things. Jesus endures all things. Jesus’ love never ends.
And when we eat at His table and drink of His cup, amazing things start happening. Our eyes become open to the needs of our neighbor, and we become First-Corinthians-chapter-13 type of people, being patient with others, helping as we are able, doing good, loving, selfless, sacrificial things, without expecting anything in return. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
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OFFERINGS TO LMC
Please remember your gifts to LMC. There are a few options for giving:
- You can mail your weekly offerings to the church.
- You can also do an online bill pay through your bank account, which can recur each month. Your bank then sends LMC a check with your offering. There is no cost to you or LMC for this.
- You can set up online giving through an App called Tithe.ly. There is a small fee associated with this transaction. You may find this option at www.lmcusc.org/give.