Quinquagesima 2016

February 7, 2016 A+D
St. Luke 18: 31-43

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

There is a lot of sight stuff in the Gospel today. It starts out Our Lord saying to the disciples: “See we are going up to Jerusalem. And everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.”

The word translated there as “see” is usually translated “behold.” It means more than “look here.” It means to look deeply, to notice the significance of something. It is a bit like we’d say: “Look, there is a man on the floor covered with blood and a hole in his head.” We wouldn’t be  asking you to notice simply the details but to make a connection between the hole in his head and the fact that he was dead. We’d want you to see something important and probably guess that he was murdered.

So when Jesus says: “Behold 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” He wants them to recognize that He is the Son of Man, the Messiah who is come into the world for this very purpose, to be a sacrifice and ransom. He wants them to connect Him to the Passover Lamb and the Scapegoat, to the suffering servant and the Kinsman-Redeemer and the ram caught in the thicket. He wants them to see how the prophets were always prophesying about Him and this great work of love that would be accomplished on the cross. But they don’t. They don’t notice. They’re too caught up in themselves.

Then we get the blind man, Bartimaues. He cannot see but He hears. He hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. He does not want Jesus to pass by. He wants Him to abide or take him with Him. Without eyes he sees that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David. He makes the connection. In Him the prophecy of Nathan was being fulfilled for Nathan told David: Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16, ESV). When Bartimaues calls Jesus the Son of David, his is calling Him King-Messiah. He is confessing His Divine nature because He is not simply the descendent of David, but He is the fulfillment of David and His Kingdom is eternal.

He also recognizes Him as coming in mercy and having the power to give mercy. When he is asked what he wants he asks for sight and he gets it. But first he asked for mercy – that is the mercy that endures forever, the mercy that passes over sins and reconciles humans to God. Again: it is a recognition that Jesus isn’t simply a rabbi or a prophet. The blind man has made the connection with what the prophets foretold. Jesus is the hope of Israel, the consolation of the sorrowful, the redemption of mankind.  Having received this grace, he then calls Jesus Lord and asks for sight – which he gets.

That recovery of sight is important. It not just for the man himself, but also for the crowd and for the disciples. They should have recognized it as a Messianic miracle because recovery of sight to the blind was foretold by Isaiah and no prophet ever performed this miracle. It can be seen by them as evidence of God’s compassion upon the world and they glorify God and praise God because of it, but they don’t connect the dots and see that Jesus is the Son of David come intop the world.

They see a hole in the devil’s head. And they know that is good. But they can’t figure out either that he is now powerless against them, that he is dead, or that Jesus has done this for them. And they certainly can’t see that the way Jesus does this is by Himself submitting to betrayal, abuse, and execution on a cross.

We, of course, see more clearly than they did. We have their blindness and Bartimaeus’ example to teach us. But we still see in a mirror dimly. This isn’t a nice clean mirror in your bathroom. This is more like the reflection in a dirty car window. We get the idea: Jesus died and rose for us. God has declared His own righteous children for free and the devil certainly powerless to accuse us anymore. The Law itself now declares us innocent. We are vindicated for the sake of Christ even though we were guilty. Yet we have many questions. We see dimly. There are problems, difficulties, logical and emotional, spiritual and practical. We live by faith, on the way to Jerusalem, waiting with St. Paul for the time when we will see clearly, fully, face-to-face. When the scales will fall from our eyes and we will know as we have been known.

So these three abide: faith, hope, and love – that is enough. The Lord will provide. He goes to Jerusalem to be murdered and to rise again in order to put the devil’s reign to an end. He will see us through and the scales will fall even as our guilt already has.

In +Jesus’ Name., Amen.

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