Monday, February 20, 2012

Sermon for 2/19/12--Quinquagesima (LSB 1-year)



Lord, Have Mercy!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Kyrie eleison! Lord, have mercy. It is perhaps the simplest prayer you could pray or sing. Yet within those simple words are packed more great stuff about God than we can hardly imagine. We pray them at least twice in our communion liturgy. We sing it this morning in the office of Matins. Lord, have mercy. The words roll off your tongue like you’ve been saying them your whole life. But what do they mean? What do they tell you about who you are as a sinner and who Jesus is as Lord?

Our text begins with Jesus taking his disciples aside to tell them what’s what. He takes them aside to tell them that he is going to be handed over to the Gentiles, spat upon and mocked, suffer as a common sinner, and die the death of a criminal. This is God’s future. The disciples had been with Jesus for over two years, but the point of His life was hidden from their understanding.

Before we go on to look at the blind man, let’s stop here for a minute. How often is it that you come to church, go to Sunday School or Bible class their whole lives, and yet miss the point? We like to think that just going through the motions is enough. But going through the motions is not the same as faith. Remember that Jesus’ disciples had been with Him every step of the way. Some had even seen Him transfigured before them. They had received a glimpse of God’s glory. Time and time again he had predicted His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. This was the point! Yet Jesus’ disciples couldn’t believe that He was going to die, even though it was right in front of their faces!

This is true in our own lives as well. Like the seed that went upon the rock or in the thorns from last week, many come week after week, but they don’t hear the simple truth of Law and Gospel: You are a sinner, and Jesus comes to save sinners just like you. It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Jesus wants you to be in His house so that He can forgive your sins and bring you to heaven. This was the message that the disciples couldn’t get, and this is the message that we as sinners forget again and again week after week after week. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that some stop coming to church entirely.

Let’s move on. Jesus then is on the road to Jericho. While he’s on the road, a crowd of onlookers follows him around. As they are on the road, a blind man alongside the road hears the crowd and asks what’s going on. He heard from the crowd that it was Jesus who was passing by. When he heard this, he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!Kyrie eleison! It is the cry of every sinner who needs Jesus. It is the cry of every soul that is weighed down by the cares of this life, by the trials that we all face as children of Adam. It is the cry that doesn’t try to manipulate God or make demands. It is the cry of faith. Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy.

This blind man, upon hearing that Jesus was close by, cried out to the Son of David for mercy. And notice that this cry continued, even after the crowds tried to shut him up. The blind man cried out because He knew that God would give Him mercy. He knew that God loved Him with an everlasting love. He knew that God would hold him in the palm of His hand and would keep him forever.

Lord, have mercy. What does it mean? It means that the blind man recognized that Jesus is Lord. He recognized that Jesus has power over life and death. Because of this, he could cry out to this Lord for mercy. He asked that God would not give Him what He deserved. He knew that he deserved the blindness of his eyes just like we deserve the blindness that sin brings. But he prayed that God would open his eyes in sight just as He opens our eyes to see His mercy.

The blind man isn’t afraid to ask God what he wants. Are you? Are you afraid to ask God for forgiveness? Are you afraid to ask God to be with you in times of trouble? Are you afraid that God will abandon you when you need Him most? Don’t be afraid. This week’s epistle is the great love chapter--I Corinthians 13. It is perhaps the most beloved chapter in the Bible. But what some miss about this chapter is that Paul is describing God’s love, not ours. God’s love is so deep and wide that it will engulf the sinner in a flood of forgiveness. His love will put you back together when you are beaten and broken by sin and oppression. His love doesn’t look for the easy way out. God’s love goes the very hard road, the road to Calvary and death on a cross. That’s how far His love will go to save you.

This week we begin our Lenten journey to the cross. This is a time of deep reflection for the Christian. This is the time when we look at our sin with the eyes of the Law and realize the depth of our sinfulness. But this is also the time when we look to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising its shame. This is the time when we cry out with the Church of all ages: Kyrie eleison! Lord, have mercy. And hearing this prayer, even as He did for the blind man, Jesus opens your eyes to see His saving work for you. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.

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