[Picture: Interior photograph of Chapel of Christ Triumphant at Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, Wis., on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford, © The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod]
Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on Quinquagesima Sunday, 2/23/2020. The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for Quinquagesima Sunday, click here.
Just in case the disciples weren’t paying attention the first two times, Jesus begins this morning by reminding them and us, one more time, what this is all about:
“We’re going to Jerusalem. Everything written about Me by the prophets is going to happen. I’ll be betrayed to the Gentiles. I’ll be beaten and scourged and mocked. They’re going to kill Me. And on the third day I will rise.”
But the disciples don’t get it. They don’t see who Jesus is. Despite all they’ve been through so far, all they really see is a teacher and a miracle worker.
It’s just like it was with David. His brothers and father looked at him, and saw a young, small, shepherd and nothing more. Even Samuel would have seen no more than that if God had not revealed it to him. But, by grace, God did reveal David to Samuel. God did show Jesse’s son to be the one He had chosen to be King over all Israel. And now God is now revealing David’s Son to everyone else.
But this revelation is about more than identity. This revelation is also about character. The point is not only that Jesus is the Christ of God, the Messiah. But here we see what He is like and what He is doing.
Jesus, as He very plainly put it, is on His way to Jerusalem. There, on the cross, Jesus is going to take care of everything. Sin. Jesus will atone for it. Death. Jesus will destroy it. Life. Jesus will take His up again, securing yours forever.
Jesus is on His way to accomplish everything. The greatest, the most beautiful, the truest, and everlasting work of Jesus is this: that by His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God; where sinners are forgiven, where the blind see, where the lame walk, where the dead are raised, where all that was lost is given back, and where the feast goes on forever.
There is nothing bigger, more important, or more necessary than this. And for that reason, the Church will always have Lent, which we will enter into this Wednesday.
But when you consider all of the above: what Jesus has come to do, what Jesus’ saving work actually accomplishes, and what that means for you and for the whole world, what happens next might seem unnecessary.
If Jesus is literally on His way to solve sin, disease, and death forever, then why bother with a bit of blindness right now? Why get sidetracked? Why delay? This is not an emergency – not temporally, and certainly not eternally.
The blind man cannot see, but he does have vision, insight, and wisdom; thus, by what he hears he perceives that which is hidden to the disciples’ eyes.
He recognizes Jesus as the Son of David, he knows Jesus to be the Christ, His Savior. Furthermore, the man knows something of God’s character; he knows that Jesus is merciful. He knows that Jesus cares about the whole world, and that he, specifically, is included in this.
This blind man trusts Jesus. He trusts Jesus to be merciful. He trusts Him to do what is best. He will even trust Jesus if the answer is “No.” or “Not yet.” He will see again in the resurrection that Jesus is going to gain for him.
Once, people thought they knew what a king looked like, and it was practically every one of Jesse’s sons, except David. Likewise, folks thought they knew what the Messiah would be like: he’d be like Elijah, Moses, or maybe John the Baptist. They thought that He would be a magnificent, war-like conqueror. And this is why they don’t understand when Jesus foretells His death a third time.
This is why Jesus stops.
Jesus stops to show again that His Kingdom is not grasped by the strong; it’s given to the weak, to those who need mercy, who will trust Him, and cling to Him in faith. Let sighted men admit to blindness. Let the wealthy declare themselves beggars. Let everyone trade in their small and limited expectations for God’s Kingdom.
None of these things are hidden from you. Through His Church, Jesus has again commanded that the blind be brought to Him. And here He speaks to them as clearly as He did to Samuel. and to this blind beggar. And as the blind beggars are brought to Him, again and again, it is the same:
Jesus says, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Give me my sight,” you said. “Do you really want to see? Are you sure?” “Do you desire to be baptized?” “Yes, I do.”
“Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. These things, Baptism and faith, belong together. Faith, that gift of God the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 12:3) clings to the promises of Christ’s Word that is joined to the water. What happens next is as simple as verse 43.
And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Once you see Jesus, once you know Jesus, you follow Him.
And this is not just for you. The blind man could already see in the only way that ultimately mattered. But with sight restored, and discipleship begun, everybody else began to see as well.
They saw Jesus’ grace and mercy; they saw a hopeless case solved; they saw that blind beggar follow Jesus, and they gave praise to God for it.
When Jesus gave the blind man sight, He gave a picture of what He would do for all on the cross. Jesus brought the gift of eternity to the present. So it is again this morning: the eternal and heavenly banquet placed into your own mouths. Your sight is recovered.
So let your eyes now see what your ears have heard. Jesus Christ, the Son of David, under bread and wine, for you. Sight for the blind. Life for the dead. Now and forever.