The coolest Sunday name in the church year is today: Quinquagesima.
And the sermon today addresses the faith of the Christian, the love which grows in us, and the opposition we face in the world. (Wait, didn’t our POTS just talk about that to congress? What a coincidence.)
Jesus – shows us faith and love
Shows in first part that we must believe w/ whole heart.
Shows in second part his love for us in action. Came not to be served but to serve.
Last Sunday before begin another Lenten season – Jesus reminds us what it’s all about. Not only what lent is about, but what this church is about. Why we come here each Sunday week after week, year after year – because he died for us. He gave himself for us. And in this place he comes to us, just as he did for the blind man.
Having received the love of Jesus, the love which forgives, and raises us to a new life, we can now show love to our fellow man. Not because it earns us even one bit of heaven – if it did that, then certainly the apostles and saints, the heroes of the faith would have more room to boast than we, and yet they don’t – no, we are saved solely through Jesus work for us – the good works that follow are fruits of our faith – they don’t save us, they are a result of Jesus having already saved us.
The idea that somehow our good works merit us forgiveness is as ludicrous as the idea that the blond man did something to earn Jesus love, and to deserve to be healed by him. The people rightly recognize that there is no compelling reason to have Jesus heal him – after all, he is only a blind beggar. They try to get the blind man to stop shouting and bothering Jesus. But Jesus stops and says, be healed. So it is with us, we are beggars at Jesus feet, and the World tries to divert from his message… but we must stay focused on what is important – Jesus and his sacrifice for us.
Just as the blind beggar – we are all blind beggars before our Lord, saying Jesus son of David, have mercy on me… Beginning of service – “Lord have mercy upon us, Christ have mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us…” Know that we do not deserve mercy, we say in the confession of sins, “I justly deserve thy temporal and eternal punishment…” But Our Heavenly Father promised to send us a savior – he promised to send one who would take our sins away, who would restore the broken relationship we have with God, who would save us from being condemned.
God sent his only son – Jesus Christ – to be our savior. And Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why he came. To die for you. So, when Jesus says, “I am about to be killed and then be raised again, just like the prophecies have been predicting since the garden of Eden”, the disciples should not be too surprised. After all, that’s why he came.
But look at reaction of disciples – says three times that they didn’t know what he meant – they didn’t get it. They wanted a kingdom of glory – not a kingdom of beggars. they wanted worldly success, not death on the cross – they wanted to ride Christ all the way to the top – not follow him to shame and scorn as they also gave their lives for him.
That wasn’t how they saw it happening – Our blind human nature just can’t comprehend God’s love for us, and it can’t see what he gives to us. But he gives us salvation. He gives us his promise that all who look to him for mercy will receive mercy. All who cry out to him for forgiveness will be given forgiveness – that’s what he tells us “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.”
The world can not accept this. IT wants a Jesus who is a great moral teacher – as long as what he teaches is what the world already thinks. The world wants a Jesus that will simply stay in his corner and not interfere with the way people do things. The world wants religion to be a private matter that you attend to at church, and then you exit through the doors and join the real world, where your religion doesn’t matter.
But when you are talking of life and death matters, there can be no separation between faith and life. If it is by faith that we receive the gift of life from our Lord Jesus Christ, then that life will pour over into the whole of our lives. That faith will become active in love, not in spite of our faith, but as a direct result of it. Our lives will be different because of what Jesus has done for us, and the world will no more accept that difference than it could accept the work of Jesus for us.
Luther puts it this way, “The world will Forever regard the Holy Gospel as a heresy and devilish doctrine, which lures people away from the truth and prevents them from doing good works. This is the judgment of reason” Truly great works must appear truly great to the world. They are measured by how many people are impacted. How big is your funeral. Jesus stops in what his disciples see as an inevitable rise to glory and fame to tell them that he is about to die for their sins, and then he stops to heal a blind beggar. There is no great action on his part. When he died there were far fewer people who mourned him than there were when the emperor died. He had issued no edicts, no laws. He was, by all accounts, just another criminal who got what he deserved.
The world treated his apostles with the same contempt. They were seen as dangerous. Even though they harmed no one, they were stoned, beaten, run out of town, shipwrecked, almost drowned, exiled, and finally (with one exception) died for the message of forgiveness life and salvation through Jesus Christ.
It was only after the resurrection that they fully understood what they were to do. They were not on a path to an easy life filled with riches. They were preaching the one who is life, and who gives more than our puny minds can comprehend. They testified before kings and emperors. They gladly laid down their lives, because they knew that Jesus gave his life in exchange for theirs, and that now, even though the world rejected the Gospel, that they had more than this world can ever give or take away. They have the eternal riches which only Christ can give.
We enter this week into the season of Holy Lent. We begin by confessing our sins on Ash Wednesday. We hear again of the agony and bloody death of our Lord. And then we hear the joyous news of resurrection. What can the world do to us, if our Lord has overcome the world by going through death and into a life without end?
Jesus has unblinded our eyes that we may see him. He has unstopped our ears that we may hear him. He has loosed our tongue that we may praise him, he has healed our body that we may show love to those around us, most importantly, he has raised us from the dead, that we would no longer walk in our sin, but be a new creation. The old has passed away, behold all things are become new.
Because of his sacrifice, your sins are forgiven. Thanks be to God.