February 7, 2016 AD
Old Testament: Isaiah 35:3-7
Epistle: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Gospel: Luke 18:31-43
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
“Jesus stood still and commanded [the blind beggar] to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, that I may receive my sight.'” – St. Luke 18:40, 41
Although many of us have difficulty with our eyesight from time to time, I doubt that any of us can have any real sense of what it’s like to be blind. But we can perhaps at least imagine the desperation of the blind beggar in today’s Gospel, no doubt reduced to begging by his blindness. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” he cries out and keeps on crying out despite all the efforts of the crowd to silence him. Jesus commands the people to bring him to Him and asks, “What do you want me to do for you?. . .Lord, let me receive my sight!” And Jesus then says, “Receive your sight, your faith has made you well!” In His compassion our Lord restores his sight and he follows Jesus on the way to Jerusalem.
Now that blind beggar’s prayer; “Lord, let me receive my sight” must be your prayer and mine as well. For although we’re not literally blind, we’re blind in a far deeper sense: blind to the love and the will of our Maker. For if we really saw God clearly, our hearts would be continually overflowing with peace and joy. But since they are not, we too need to pray with that blind beggar, “Lord, let me receive my sight!”
The trouble is that, instead of clearly seeing the love and the will of God, we’re distracted: we see all kinds of other things instead. And you have to be careful about what you see!
Now I happen to have a dear friend in another part of the country who’s struggled with depression all his life. But his depression isn’t helped by what he chooses daily to see. Not content with looking at one or two news reports, he tends to keep watching the news all day long! And that, I submit, is enough to depress even the most cheerfully disposed person! And then there are those of us who are tempted to spend our time constantly following the latest scandals and tragedies in the Church and in the world— or even worse, materials not ﬁt for human consumption, let alone for any Christian trying to follow the holy Jesus who said, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” You have to be careful about what you see!
Now we are naïve if we think this is a small matter of no consequence, if we fail to realize that Satan uses all of this to blind and confuse and alienate us from the life of God. For the more careless we are about what we choose to see, the greater the danger of being plunged ever deeper into spiritual confusion and darkness. You have to be careful about what you see!
Lent begins this Wednesday. And what is Lent for if not that time of year when, more than at any other time, we in fact gaze on Jesus? Lent in fact is all about seeing: about seeing ourselves as we are and our Maker as He is.
It’s a time for seeing ourselves as we in fact are: not as we’d like to be, nor yet as we fancy ourselves to be, but as we in painful fact are. Honest and thorough self-examination in the light of God’s Word written should quickly dispel any illusions we might have. For example, just how well do you and I measure up in the light of Saint Paul’s great hymn to love as we heard it in the Epistle for this Sunday?
“Love is patient; love is kind, and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish; not quick to take offense. Love keeps no score of wrongs, does not gloat over other people’s sins, but delights in the truth.”
Yes, in self-examination and in confession we see ourselves as we truly are.
But then in the word of pardon spoken by the pastor, whom God has put there to do just that, we see God as He truly is, who knows us better than we know ourselves yet loves us still; we see Jesus the crucified and risen Friend of sinners. And what else is the Sacrament we receive this day but the means whereby we see: see the love which brought the eternal Son of God to the shameful cross to cleanse us through His precious blood and make us His?
You have to be careful about what you see! “Lord, let me receive my sight.” In the wonderful Epistle for this Last Sunday before Lent, Saint Paul says, “Now”— in this life— “we see through a glass darkly, but then”— in heaven— “face to face.” And Saint John says of the redeemed in heaven: “His servants shall worship Him for they shall see His face.” But for now,
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind—
Yea all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. +Amen.