Quinquagesima Sunday (2015)
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
February 15, 2015
Central Passage
Luke 18:31-43

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

We all have things that we have asked of the Lord that we did not receive. St. James says it is because we ask in order to spend it on our passions. Repent.

We hear the gospel this morning and our lustful passions go right to the fact that this blind man prayed and got what he asked for and yet we pray and do not receive. We gloss over the words of our Lord that He is to suffer and be spit upon and die and go straight for what we think is the real treasure: healing and answered prayers.

But we also resist this lustful diversion. We do. We think about it and wonder why we don’t get what we ask for when the Bible is full of people like us who do. But then we chastise ourselves and think to ourselves that this isn’t the right thing to be concerned with. We feel guilty – rightly so – that our attention is more on the healing than on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

This is the spirit struggling against the flesh, pure and simple. The spirit is willing to ponder the wonderfulness of the Passion of Christ and His glorious resurrection and ascension. But the flesh is weak and wants to only think about worldly things such as this body and all the things that make up this life. And this body fails and the things that make up this life are hard. And we, like the blind man, want relief. So we call out to Jesus for mercy: “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”

But notice that there is context here. The Scriptures don’t just pop this blind man up on the scene, but he is placed on the road to Jerusalem. He is placed with the Lord’s words that He is going to go up to Jerusalem to suffer, be spit upon, be killed, and raised again from the dead. That’s the context of the blind man and his prayer, “Lord, have mercy!”

And it is the context of your prayers, too. If it is not the context of your prayers, if the Passion of the Christ, His suffering, death, and resurrection are not the context of your prayers, even if you should pray for great and godly things, then you will not be heard. For what is greater than what the rich young ruler asked for when he said to Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He was asking Jesus for the way of life! Yet he did not receive it because his heart was not set on the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus but on himself.

For the Lord answered him and said to him: “Go and sell all that you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come follow me.” And where was Jesus going? To the Father by way of the cross. The rich man went away sad because he had great wealth and following Jesus threatened to remove that from him. He asked for life to spend it on his passions and not in light of Jesus.

That is how we often ask. We see that the blind man received his sight and we get angry with God and frustrated that we have not received what we ask for. But it is because we are not asking so that the will of God be done, but so that we are relieved of suffering. But the way of Christ is the way of suffering in this life.

Now someone will ask: “Wait a minute, the blind man asked to be relieved of suffering and he was.” But this gospel today is teaching us the context in which we ask. The context is that we ask in light of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. Then he, unlike the rich young ruler, followed Jesus.

So to put it in present terms: here you are on the road to Jerusalem. Not the city in Palestine, but the heavenly Jerusalem. Yet you are near Jericho, which was known for its sinfulness and wicked living, and is a symbol of this world. The Lord is walking the road and you cry out, “Lord, have mercy on us! Christ, have mercy on us! Lord, have mercy on us!” He calls you to Himself, which is why you are present here this morning, and says to you, “What do you want?” Now here is the heavenly part. You’ve already asked for what you want, just as the blind man had. You want mercy. That is to say, you want the Father’s will to be done for the Father is merciful to all who call upon Him through the Son.  And this mercy is first and foremost in the suffering, death, and resurrection of the Son. So in light of this you ask for mercy. In light of the Father’s will you ask for mercy.

Out there in the illusion, out there we ask for things all the time. Mostly we don’t ask to receive but only to deal with things in a psychological way. But if we would ask in light of being in here, on the road to the heavenly Jerusalem, asking for the Father’s will to be done, then we would receive. Not only that, but we learn better what to ask for because we would be listening to God.

Prayer is primarily listening to God, which is again why the rich young ruler didn’t get what he asked for and the blind man did. The one did not listen to Jesus and the other did. In your prayers do you listen to Jesus first? Do you hear Him say, “This is my Body given for you; this is My blood poured out for you”? Or do you not hear Him and only ask for things because you want them or because you think it is God’s will. After all, who would argue that it is not God’s will to give eternal life? Yet the rich young ruler did not receive. It is because he did not ask in Christ but for his own passions.

Those that cut themselves off from Christ and do not call out to Him on the way to the heavenly Jerusalem will not receive what they ask. Remember, to the world the rich young ruler looked like God answered all his prayers. He was rich, he was young, and he was a ruler! Worldly gods and worldly goods. But because he did not ask in faith but to spend it on his passions, he did not receive the eternal life he wanted. But the blind man, pathetic in terms of the world: he was blind and was a beggar, he received what he asked because he asked in faith, in light of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection.

He did not cut himself off from Jesus but followed Him to His cross and through the cross to the resurrection. That is the context of godly prayers. You pray, Christian, in the context of this gathering wherein the Lord makes known to you the Father’s will and wherein you proclaim His death until He comes in the future. Your prayers flow from this gathering we call “church” but better called the Lord’s Service because your faith flows from the Lord’s service to you. When you pray do not pray as the pagans pray, even if they say, “In the name of Jesus.” Rather, pray like the blind man, in faith that Jesus is the mercy of God in His suffering, death, and resurrection, pray with both ears toward the Lord. Then you will hear what to pray for and you will be found praying the prayers of the saints of God, the children of God. And your heavenly Father hears you and showers you with abundant blessings and grace in the name of Jesus.

+ In Nomine Iesu +