Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lutherans always seem to be preaching repentance for our sins and the suffering and cross of Jesus. Lent is coming! And we think about more these things more intensely in Lent, not because they are somehow more important then, but to remind ourselves what is most important: Jesus suffering for our sins. The world doesn't want that kind of Jesus. When the blind man is crying out to Jesus, begging for mercy from the Son of David, the crowd tells him to shut up. No, Jesus isn't supposed to be paying attention to beggars. Jesus is the King who will get rid of the Romans. The world doesn't want to hear about the suffering of Jesus because then the world would have to repent of its sins which brought our Lord to suffer. The world will say plenty about Jesus until you say that Jesus was handed over to be mocked, spit upon, and killed. Once you start talking about the Jesus who suffers, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world—well then forget it. The eyes of the world narrow with skepticism, the ears of the world are shut, and the preachers are told to shut up.
Jesus speaks of His coming suffering and death and Luke records: "They understood none of these things, and this word was hidden from them and they did not know what He was saying." His own disciples don't get it. Those to whom it was given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God don't have a clue what our Lord is talking about! All this suffering and dying and rising talk makes no sense. And it would not make sense until the Lord was risen from the dead, until the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, until repentance and forgiveness began to be preached in Christ's name. We're the same way. We hear that Jesus suffered, died and rose again. But we like to think that our sins aren't really that bad as to need the Son of God to die for them. We like to think we're smart enough and wise enough that we don't need to live by every last word that comes from the mouth of Jesus. Repent, dear Christians, of only hearing the bare facts of salvation. Hear again that this suffering and dying and rising is done for you and your salvation. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the Lord having mercy on you, just as He had mercy upon the blind man.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, God has no mercy for you, no salvation, no forgiveness, no love, apart from His Son who is handed over, mocked, spit upon, humiliated, killed and raised the third day. That is our salvation. All of our enemies—the devil, the world, and our sinful nature—are defeated by that very Jesus who takes our place on Calvary and suffers at the hands of sinners. It is Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, who fulfills all that the Scriptures said about Him, from the very first promise of a Savior in the Garden of Eden to all that Moses and the Prophets and Psalms promised about Him. The salvation and forgiveness of sins won by the Lamb of God are no good to you unless they are for you.
When the blind man is healed, we see that Jesus is for you. The blind man cries out for the Lord to have mercy upon Him. Jesus answers this prayer by doing exactly that: He saves this man. What is mercy? It is Jesus delivering to you the salvation He earned. The answer to the prayer, "Lord, have mercy!" is Jesus doing and delivering His saving work. The mercy of God in Christ is given through His Word in the water, read and proclaimed, in bread and wine. By these very means, the Lord opens our eyes of faith to see Him and behold Him and to receive His salvation accomplished for us.
The blind man knew that, in order to be saved, Jesus had to be for him. So he cried out the prayer for mercy. The world tried to shut Him up, but the crowd is silenced as Jesus stops to save this man by His Word and open the man's eyes so he could see his Savior. Brothers and sisters, learn to pray like the blind man. Learn to cry out to the Lord that begging prayer, "Have mercy upon me!" Then hear the words of Jesus to the blind man: "Be seeing! Your faith has saved you." Let His Word open your eyes, and see to Lent and beyond. See Jesus, lifted up for you, coming to you in His gifts in His church. Then do as the crowds did when they learned the Good News: give glory and praise to God. 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.