Sunday, February 23, 2020


Luke 18:31-43; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 Samuel 16:1-13

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
See, we are going up to Jerusalem.” When Jesus said “See” to His disciples, I like to think that He was calling them to see something that was right before them that they weren’t seeing; that is, Jesus was calling His disciples to see differently, to see with the eyes of faith. They were going up to Jerusalem where Jesus would be delivered over to the Romans who would mock Him, treat Him shamefully, and spit upon Him; they would flog Him and scourge Him before they crucified Him; He would die and be buried, and on the third day He would rise. Though all the Prophets had written about this, they didn’t understand what He was saying, they simply couldn’t see it, and, in truth, the meaning of Jesus’ words were being hidden from them.
In contrast to Jesus’ disciples, who could otherwise see perfectly well, there was a blind man begging along the road to Jericho. Mark tells us that the man’s name was Bartimaeus, which means “son of honor.” This “son of honor” was reduced to the humiliating act of begging for his livelihood because of his blindness. Nevertheless, blind Bartimaeus could see things that the seeing disciples and the crowds could not see; Bartimaeus could see with the eyes of faith. Hearing a commotion, Bartimaeus inquired what was happening. Someone from the crowd told him simply what his eyes could see, that Jesus from Nazareth was passing by. While that was certainly true, Jesus of Nazareth was simply His name and the town in which He lived. Any seeing person could say the same. Most likely this information was delivered with a taint of derision as well so that he might have said, “The carpenter’s son from backwater Nazareth is passing through. Nothing to see here; move along.” Upon hearing this news, however, blind Bartimaeus saw something the disciples and crowds did not see. Bartimaeus saw and confessed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of David, bringing mercy, forgiveness, healing, and life. He cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Now, understand, in both the Gospels of Luke and Mark, this event occurs after the Transfiguration of Our Lord where Jesus’ glory was revealed, along with Moses and Elijah, in the presence of no less than Peter, James, and John! And yet, blind Bartimaeus is rebuked and told to shut up. Though Bartimaeus was blind, though he couldn’t see, still he heard the word of the Prophets, the Word of the LORD concerning the Messiah, and he believed and knew that this Jesus from Nazareth was fulfilling prophecy, that He was merciful, willing, and able to heal. Therefore, he refused to be silenced and he cried out again, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus stopped dead in His tracks. He commanded that the man be brought before Him. Jesus asked Bartimaeus directly, “What do you want me to do for you.” Bartimaeus answered, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” “Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he recovered his sight.”
“Your faith has made you well.” Now, don’t make the mistake that is too easy to make. Don’t think that faith is a work that you do that makes Jesus respond with healing, praise, blessing, or anything at all. Faith is not a work that you do, but faith is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word of the Lord (the Holy Scriptures) and through the Blessed Sacraments alone. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” – period. Blind Bartimaeus had faith. How was it that Bartimaeus had faith? Through hearing the Word of Christ. The disciples and the crowd had heard that same Word – and they had witnessed that Word being fulfilled; they had seen that Word in action – and yet they did not see what blind Bartimaeus could see; they did not believe what blind Bartimaeus believed. Jesus granted Bartimaeus his sight because he could already see with the eyes of faith; his physical sight was a blessing, a fruit, of the true gift of grace he possessed – faith. Though he was physically blind, Bartimaeus did not let his suffering keep him from believing. Indeed, his faith provided him all that he needed to live and persevere, even through his suffering and tribulation.
As He set His face to go to Jerusalem where He would suffer and die, Jesus called His disciples to see with the eyes of faith. Soon, they would see Jesus betrayed into the hands of sinful men by one of their own. Soon, they would see Jesus tried and convicted by both Jews and Gentiles, and betrayed again by Peter, even though Jesus had told him beforehand, and Peter swore that he would die for Him rather than betray Him. Soon, they would see Jesus mocked and ridiculed and spit upon, flogged and scourged, crucified, dead, and buried. Jesus was calling His disciples to see with the eyes of faith, trusting in the Word spoken by the Prophets, trusting in His Word, “and on the third day He will rise,” so that they would persevere through Jesus’ Passion, and so that they would persevere through their own suffering and tribulation as they take up their crosses and follow Him. But, at this stage, “they understood none of these things,” they did not believe, and “this saying was hidden from them.”
Similarly, the LORD called Samuel to see with the eyes of faith, to trust in His Word despite what he saw with his eyes. The LORD sent Samuel to the home of Jesse in Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as king, the successor of Saul. However, Samuel was afraid of Saul, fearful that Saul would kill him. Nevertheless, Samuel trusted in the LORD and went as the LORD commanded him. Jesse presented his eldest, strongest, most kingly sons before Samuel, but the LORD had not chosen any of them. Finally, Jesse presented his young son David, whom he had never even considered because to the eyes he was young, soft, and unimpressive. But the LORD had chosen David to succeed Saul, despite what the eyes of men had seen, for the LORD looks upon the heart of a man and not the outward appearance.
Isaiah prophesied of Jesus, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Human eyes despised and rejected Jesus, considered Him to be nothing but an unimpressive man, but the eyes of faith beheld the LORD’s Messiah, our Savior, and trusted in Him.
Dearly beloved, we too are about to go with Jesus up to Jerusalem as we begin our Lenten pilgrimage with Him. The LORD calls you once again to see differently, to see with the eyes of Spirit-given faith. Such seeing will not only help you to worship your Lord rightly and to receive His gifts, but such seeing will also help you and encourage you that you should persevere through the trials and tribulations and sufferings that you and those you love suffer as you make your pilgrimage through this life into life that cannot die. The LORD calls you to see that He is with you, just as He has promised, in His Word proclaimed, and in His Word made visible, touchable, and testable – Holy Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and in the Holy Supper of His body and blood. In these ways your LORD is with you and cares for you as you make your pilgrim way that you may not fail but reach your heavenly goal. And, as He blesses you, He also makes you a blessing, that through you more and more might see and believe and reach their heavenly goal with you. To God alone be all glory and praise.
In the + Name of Jesus.


Unknown said...

Mom and I truly appreciate the sermons coming to us thru's good to hear it and then read it thru once more for a little more and a little deeper understanding Thank you, Pastor, for doing this in such a timely fashion. Thank you for your prayers as they have proven helpful to us both as we are doing splendifferously well! Wendell & Grace

Fr. Jon M. Ellingworth said...

Thank you Wendell. I am happy to hear that you are able to both hear and read the sermons and that you find them beneficial. God bless you and keep you in his grace.