St. Luke 18:31-43
March 2, 2014
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Lord is on His last journey to Jerusalem where He goes to offer Himself as a sacrifice. He tells His disciples, explicitly, for the third time, exactly what will happen. They follow with fear, amazement, and sadness. They know He goes to His own danger, but they do not understand either the character or the cause of that danger, nor do they recognize the pattern of mercy from the history of Israel that Jesus embodies.
What the Lord foretold those three times is that, in accordance with prophecy, He would be betrayed, abused, and murdered before rising again on the third day. These predictions are not novel. All of this is foretold in type and prophecy throughout the Old Testament.
The most important type of His betrayal was the selling of Joseph into Egypt at the suggestion of Judah. What the brothers were paid is parallel to the silver paid to Judas. But most importantly, Joseph rescues his betraying brothers and is reconciled to them at his own expense. He also proclaims the most important Messianic principle: what they meant for evil, God uses for good. After His resurrection, Jesus restores the eleven as His brothers.
The most important prophecy regarding the abuse that Jesus suffers is written in Isaiah 53. Isaiah foretells not only that He will be stricken, smitten, and afflicted but he also gives us the purpose of this abuse. The Messiah will be pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and by His wounds we will be healed. The Messiah is a substitute who suffers for our forgiveness and salvation.
The most important type of His murder is probably the near sacrifice of Isaac. Abraham was held to God’s own standard: willingness to sacrifice his only son. Not only did Abraham prove himself obedient, so also did Isaac, who allowed his father to bind him to the altar and did not resist. This shows the cost of sin and the necessity of Sacrifice. The wages of sin is death. Hebrews gives us something more though. There we learn that this scene is also a foreshowing of the resurrection. We read in Hebrews 11: Abraham considered that God was able even to raise Isaac from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. (Hebrews 11:19, ESV)
There are others, of course. Jesus shows the disciples on the way to Emmaus that all of the Scriptures testify of Him. His rebuke of those two is the rebuke of the eleven: “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?”
The difficulty for the disciples was not in believing what had happened to Israel at the Red Sea or what had happened to the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. The difficulty and blindness was in understanding those things as Messianic and predictive of the future. Even though they were witness to miracles and sometimes made a good confession, it seemed to them as though God was not so active in Israel while Jesus walked the earth as He had been in former times.
We do well to consider this as we enter into Lent. We need not be as blind as they were. The blind man wasn’t. He saw clearly that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of David come for mercy’s sake. He pieced this together from the prophecies of Holy Scripture by the light of the Holy Spirit. But the disciples were blind. They could not see what was clearly and repeatedly spoken and recorded.
We can suffer a similar blindness. There are probably a thousand ways we fail to live out our faith, but behind all of them is some nagging uncertainty or doubt about God’s goodness or His current activity in the world. Rather than try to diagnose all the ways we misunderstand Christ, His mission, and our purpose, let us just repent. Let us acknowledge that we’ve been caught up in ourselves and material goods. We’ve broken all the commandments. We’ve neglected the One Thing Needful. This Lent, let us turn back to the Scriptures and hear them anew.
Everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets has been accomplished. He has been handed over to the Gentiles, mocked, and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after they flogged Him, they killed Him. But on the third day He rose and He lives. This He did in perfect love for our salvation. In light of that singular reality, let us pray with the blind man, first, “Lord have mercy” and then “That I would recover my sight.” In that mercy and sight, let us follow Jesus to Jerusalem and glorify God.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.