Quinquagesima – Luke 18:31-43

There are none so blind as they who will not see. The proverb is not in Sacred Scripture, but it does describe the Twelve when they hear Jesus say, See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. Looking back, we can see exactly what Jesus is saying here. In fact, the last thing He says as He hangs on the cross is It is finished, or It is accomplished. The accomplishment our dying Savior mentions here is exactly what He says as He dies. Jesus accomplishes the salvation of the world in the shedding of His blood.

Jesus even gives the Twelve an exact description of what will happen to Him. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise. Notice Jesus speaks about Himself in the third person. Perhaps that threw off the Twelve because Saint Luke says they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Perhaps the Twelve were thrown off by our Lord’s words because His passion and death was the farthest thing from their minds. Consider the matter from their point of view. You have walked with Jesus for nearly three years. You have heard Him preach amazing sermons that boggle the minds of His hearers. You have seen Him heal the sick, raise the dead, and dine with tax collectors and sinners. If you are Peter, James, or John, you have seen Him transfigured before your eyes. You have heard parables…and Jesus has been kind enough to explain them to you. Yet when He tells you for the third time in Luke’s Gospel that He will suffer and die at the hands of the Jews, you scratch your head and wonder what He means.

Perhaps you expect Jesus’ return to Jerusalem to be a triumphant one. That’s the way it will be on Palm Sunday. But the triumphant entry is not for an earthly throne. Christ’s triumphal entry is for His death and subsequent resurrection from the dead. That’s not exactly something to celebrate. The Twelve, while clearly seeing everything that the Lord has done to this point, are blind.

This is where the blind man comes into the story. He is not able to see Jesus passing by him. That is why he asks what all the fuss is about. He is told Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, the carpenter’s son whose preaching and teaching has stirred up things from Jerusalem to Galilee. But notice what the blind man calls the rabbi from Nazareth. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! The crowd tries to hush him, but the blind man fervently cries even louder, Son of David, have mercy on me!

You shouldn’t be surprised that the crowd tries to silence the blind man. Every time someone calls Jesus a name that points out His Messianic lineage, people try to silence them…even Jesus Himself silences demons who call Him that Name. Even today, His Name is silenced. We expect it from the world, but even Christians try to silence that Name for fear of offense. The scandal of the cross knows no particular time or place. Everywhere the Name of the Lord goes, there will be resistance. All the more His Name is cried out so others may hear and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

The blind man wants to see. Jesus is able to provide him with sight. Recover your sight, Jesus tells him, your faith has made you well. Yes, it is amazing that Jesus heals a blind man who immediately follows Him. What is even more amazing is that the blind man, who had never seen Jesus, believes He is Who the prophets say He is. Scripture never tells us whether the blind man heard the preaching of Jesus. But he believes Jesus is the long-promised Son of David Who comes as Isaiah foretells Him in the Old Testament reading: Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.

All these miraculous events occur because Jesus wants all people to see what He comes to accomplish for them. He comes to accomplish reconciliation with the Father. He comes to set free prisoners from bondage to sin, death, and hell. He comes to stomp the serpent’s head. He comes to die for your transgressions and rise from the dead for your justification. The Twelve, His constant companions and the future preachers of Christ’s righteousness, are blind. A blind man sitting by the side of the road who has never before seen Jesus in the flesh sees His Savior with clear vision.

Compared to the last two weeks, today’s propers sound a note of hope and encouragement for us as we prepare to enter Holy Lent this Wednesday. Today’s Gospel is the ideal text to contemplate before our thoughts and prayers turn penitential in preparing for the passion of Christ. Jesus Christ is the God Who works wonders. Jesus heals your blindness to salvation. He makes you able to see Him suffer all things, even death, in order that you are covered in His blood and righteousness.

Today He covers you, as He does every Divine Service, with forgiveness and eternal life. He covers you with His absolving Word. He shelters you from every attack of the devil, the world, and your sinful nature in His forgiving Body and Blood. Jesus is your rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save you. He leads and guides you to His salvation. He leads and guides you in your daily tasks as you serve others in your different stations in life, showing forth His love in whatever you do for others.

As Holy Lent approaches, fix your eyes upon Jesus. Let Him turn your blind eyes of unbelief into eyes that see what you already believe. Jesus comes to set you free from the bonds of your sins and deliver you from every evil.

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