Sermon Notes for Quinquagesima Sunday 7 February 2016 Anno Domini
31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: 36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. 37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. 38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, 41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. 42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. 43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God. (Luke 18:31-43)
We have all been blind to some extent in our lives. We were totally blind to the Invisible God while we were yet outside His covenant of Grace. Even once coming to a knowlege of Christ as Lord and Savior, we remain spiritually myopic until we have been weaned from the milk and placed on a diet of meat. Still, even the well read Bible scholar only sees, at this present time, through a glass darkly. But the time will surely come when those who seek to know God and His Word better will not view Him through the smoke and mists of imperfect understanding, but face to face.
Perhaps, as a Christian, you have believed that you might escape the troubles and trials of righteous JOB and rest at ease in your faith of Christ. Has this ever been true? No, it has not been true for, if you courageously stand upon that Rock of your Salvation in both desert and garden, the world will hate and trouble you. There is no escape unless you are blessed to live in a nation whose God is, in fact, the Lord and not rhetorically so. Even then, there is always a gravitational pull downward on the soul of man enticing him to sink to the gutter of sensual living rather than to rise to the pinnacle of moral living. If you are the “life of the party” wherever your feet take you, and always well received by the world, you are not living a Christian life of victory. The Christian shall see days of greater and greater rejection as the whole world continues in its spiral into the abyss of darkness. It is not that the world does not understand, but that the world does not DESIRE to understand. Evil is multiplying at phenomenal levels in our day. Is it any wonder that Christ asked the question: “……when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
Christ KNEW of His coming suffering. He was going up to Jerusalem for His last earthly visit. Yet He never tarried or demurred from going. Christ was intent on a perfect obedience to His father, and He knew there could be no forgiveness without sacrifice. He tells us that we, too, have a cross to bear. It is not a silver, gold, or ivory cross, but rather a cross made of crude and splintered timber. That cross has two axes – one vertical pointing from Heaven (God) to earth (us); and the other horizontal pointing across the plane of all humanity. In geometry we are told that an axis is a fixed reference in conjunction with other points which define its direction. The cross has two fixed references: 1) from a point (God) in Heaven to another point (man) on earth. It illustrates that God, on the vertical beam, has offered a means whereby fallen man can be redeemed from the just wrath that his sin entails by the coming down of God the Son to sacrifice Himself in Love. The horizontal bean illustrates that sacrificial love (as clearly described in the Epistle today from 1 Corinthians 13) that we who are redeemed must bear for one another in obedience to God. We have a rude cross to bear and, if it does not weigh upon our shoulders, perhaps it is because we have not taken it up. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
God sometimes brings things into our lives which we do not presently understand. Our understanding may be deferred until such time that we can most profitably grasp the meaning. 31. Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. 32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: 33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. 34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. You will have to admit that this is reasonably clear language, yet His disciples did not understand. They had witnessed the great power of God at the hands of the only Begotten Son of God. They had seen the dead restored to life simply at the sound of His Voice. They had seen sight restored to the blind, the crippled made to walk, the adulteress forgiven, an issue of blood arrested at the touch of His garment, the stormy sea made calm at His command, and the wretched lepers touched by His wholesome hand and cured! How could the Jewish rulers and Romans commit such a hateful crime on one so full of power? The answer, of course, is that they COULD NOT! It was God who allowed His only Begotten Son to be crucified as a willing sacrifice for our redemption. Perhaps God has also told us things through His Word that we have understood amiss, yet, in time, we come to a full and precise understanding of the meaning after God has allowed His Holy Ghost to testify thereof to our hearts.
It is often God’s intention that a temporary curtain be dropped over our eyes as a gossamer veil so that we only see vaguely until such time as the full picture is exposed. It is doubtful that Mary, the mother of Jesus, well understood all that her Son represented and taught. She seemed to be absent from most of His teachings. She failed, perhaps through remorse, to come to the Garden Tomb with the other Mary’s. Perhaps she would have come had she believed she would see her Risen Lord! But now, you and I know something that the disciples did not know when Christ spoke the above words. How will we respond? Your cross is waiting for you. If you take it up, you, too, will feel the lash of the Roman (government) sanction against you. You, too, will be spat upon and rejected in the public square. Do you still desire to bear the cross? Or do you prefer to carry a pretty rosary (much lighter to bear and far more appealing) to illustrate your piety?
Do you remember a time when you were a beggar? Has your memory faded in remembering that you one day grew into a realization that your baptism and covenant made for you by your parents must be confirmed in a living faith? Did you proudly receive that faith as something you deserved, or did you plead with your Lord for forgiveness and reception? Were you not blind from the past days of your life until you sat, as a beggar, beside the road awaiting the approach of the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you hail to Him without shame – even in a public place? Did you disregard the nay-sayers who flocked about Him and shout your appeal for mercy – not vision? Well, my friend, it is very likely that you, too, were a blind beggar by the dusty roadside of Christ. You had heard of Him perhaps on your mother’s knee. You believed it as far as you were able, but it did not make complete sense to your youthful mind that you were made whole through the death of a Messiah. Now you KNOW! Now you have begun to feel a nagging emptiness in the very chambers of your heart. How to fill the void? There is only one supply that can fill that emptiness – the Lord Jesus Christ! And you heard of His approach. You waited silently until His countenance could be clearly seen, then, you shouted from the top of your voice, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Those of the modern church who were closest to Christ attempted to silence you and prevent your coming. After all, you were only a beggar and unworthy of the company of saints, right? And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace. But your NEED was far greater than their DOUBT and DISCOURAGEMENT! The world would always prefer that you not come to Christ! But you could not hold your peace! but he cried so much the more, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Notice that the MERCY of God is all that we need to lift the scales from our eyes. His Mercy always precedes His grace.
Expectantly, you stand waiting, your eyes closed to the Light of the World! Suddenly, there was a change in the air. The discordant voices were silent as the Voice of Heaven spoke – what was spoken, you may not have known, but you felt in your heart that a tremendous experience was about to be had. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him Did you not know, my dear people, that your appeal for mercy will bring Christ to a full stop before you. When a man stands still, it usually means he has quit his journey, but when Christ stands still – whether on a dusty road leading into Jericho or beneath a sycamore tree into which Zacchaeus climbed – something miraculous is about to happen. Even the air is made calm and full of electrifying expectation. If you have appealed to Christ for mercy, He has stopped to hear your petition! Suddenly, you feel his servants (perhaps His true ministers) pulling at your arms and bringing you into a wide place. Though your vision is dark, there is nothing amiss with your ears for you hear the most majestic and loving voice you have ever imagined speak to YOU! What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? When we first appealed to Christ for mercy and begged for healing, were we not somewhat taken aback by the power of His Voice? Perhaps the beggar had hailed many passers-by for succor, and only a few had ever responded. None had asked that the beggar be brought to them as did this Man. When He spoke, perhaps His Voice overpowered you in love and power. You didn’t REALLY believe such an important personage would stop and listen to your grievance, did you? Notice that Jesus did not say, “What wilt thou that I do FOR you,” but, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? If Jesus merely heals our sight, He has done something FOR us only; but if He makes us into new creatures through His redeeming power, we have had a change made TO us.
You eagerly search for a response to this most appealing voice. Finally, you know that you have His full attention. He has granted mercy already, so you press forward with a desire that has plagued you all the years that you have sat by the roadside in the darkness of a bright day: Lord, that I may receive my sight. Now, you anxiously wait. Have you imposed too much on the great King to have your request granted? Do you not know that a great King is complimented by a great request? The great request is recognition of His great power to grant. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee. Notice Jesus granted the beggars lesser request first – his sight. But the greater favor came as the best wine came last at Cana of Galilee – SALVATION! Our greatest miracle from the Lord will always be His forgiveness and reception of us into His Kingdom!
Now, good friends, what did you do when Christ healed YOU? Did your heart immediately break out in praises and joy? Did you immediately follow Him wheresoever He led? Did your exuberance at your salvation spill over into the crowd (world) around you? If not, perhaps you still pine away in blindness, for look at the response of the poor blind beggar: And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
GO THOU AND DO LIKEWISE!