Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For three years, Jesus had been preparing His disciples for this day. Now the time had come. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” This all sounds very clear, doesn’t it? Jesus told the disciples exactly what was going to happen. The road to Calvary runs before them. But they couldn’t see it. They couldn’t understand. As the old saying goes, “A blind man could see it.”
How about you? You've heard it all before. Jesus suffers and dies and rises again. You hear it in every sermon. Most of you have heard it your whole lives. But do you get it? Do you understand what Jesus is saying? You can hear repeatedly that Jesus is true God and man who suffered and died and rose. And yet you still have notions in your heads that you somehow please God by what you do, or that Jesus was just a good teacher, or that it doesn't matter how you live, or that somehow you need to have a God other than the one who suffered and bled and died and rose for you. The fact is, you live as if you haven't heard it before or don't get what it means for your faith and life. As the old saying goes, “A blind man could see it.”
Well, as it happens, a blind man did see it. Jesus encountered a blind man outside Jericho. This man, when he found out it was Jesus going by, cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He's heard of Jesus. He knows who Jesus is—the Son of David, the promised Savior—and He knows Jesus can heal Him. Even when the crowds try to shush him, he just cries out louder, “Lord, have mercy!” Nothing will stop this guy from having His Jesus save him and help him. And Jesus does have mercy on this poor man. He opens his eyes and gives him his sight. You'd think now that his eyes were opened he could see Jesus for what He is and run the opposite direction. But instead he follows Jesus. The man follows Him toward suffering and death. The disciples heard Jesus over and over talking about His suffering and death and resurrection, and they don't get it. This blind man receives his sight, and he follows after Jesus, even seeing and knowing what is to come.
When it comes down to it, the only Jesus that saves you is the One who is handed over, spit upon, mocked, scourged, killed and rises again the third day. The only Savior who saves is the One who suffers and dies in your place. People don't want a seemingly weak, suffering, crucified God. But nothing else saves you from your sins. Nothing else removes from you the curse that would otherwise leave you cast out from God forever. Nothing else but the Son of God crucified for sinners will shut down the accusations of Satan against you. When Jesus tells His disciples over and over that He must suffer and die, He is teaching them what sort of a Savior He will be. And when you hear it preached over and over that Jesus suffered and died and rose, you are learning by God's Spirit to trust in no other God than the One who became man and did what it seems God should never do: die. But that's what He did for you.
So the blind man knew that Jesus could save him and so he cried out even when the crowd was against him. Do you pray like that? Do you cling to Christ like that? When you come to the Divine Service, and Christ Himself passes by in His Word and Body and Blood, are you yawning in your heart as if it is just the same old stuff? Or do you cry out with the blind man, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus does have mercy on this blind man. And He has mercy on you. You need your eyes to be opened by Jesus. And that is exactly what He did when He washed you at the font. That’s exactly what He does when absolves you of your sins, when He speaks His Word into your ears, when He gives you His Body and Blood to eat and drink. By the same Word that said to the blind man, “Receive your sight,” the Lord tells you, “Receive your sight. Your sins are forgiven.” When you come to church, you are doing exactly what the blind man does: crying out for Jesus to have mercy on us. And His answer is, “Your faith, your Jesus has saved you,” for here in His church, the Lord is opening your eyes and forgiving your sins and granting you eternal life.
Lent is coming. Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday. The Lord has opened your eyes, and you can see the road to Calvary standing before you. With your open eyes you can see that this is the time to learn to die to sin, to crucify your sinful flesh, to cling to Jesus. Lent is the time when your open eyes are fixed on Him, looking on as He goes to be handed over, mocked, spit upon, scourged, killed and to rise the third day. You've heard it countless times before, and you will hear it countless times again. With your eyes opened, behold your God. Here is your salvation. 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.