1 Corinthians 13:1-13
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
And so, in love, our Lord makes plain to His disciples His path—the way of love. That He, the Son of Man, must go to Jerusalem, completely fulfilling everything the prophets have written about Him. That he must be stricken, smitten, and afflicted. That He must be betrayed into the hands of unbelievers who will treat Him shamefully, being blind to who He is. That He must ultimately die, but that He will rise after three days.
But this was unclear to them. It didn’t jive with what they thought. Therefore, being the self-centered egoists that all humans are they couldn’t process it. It wasn’t what they wanted. They didn’t want to hear it. So it remained crypto, hidden to them, a cryptic saying that no one knows what to do with. Plain as day but hidden in plain sight.
They did not have ears to hear it. It was as though they were blind to what Our Lord had just laid out before them. Deaf and dumb. Not understanding.
So Our Lord carries on knowing that a physically blind man is about to confront them. This man’s eyes don’t work, but he has ears to hear Our Lord, eyes of faith to see Him, and a heart that trusts in Him. And when he hears that the great commotion in his town is caused by Jesus passing by he calls out, “Son of David,” another name the prophets gave to the Son of Man, “Mercy me!”—pour out your mercy upon me! But the people blocking the blind man’s view try to quiet him, hoping that their quiet fanaticism will get them noticed at the front of crowd just a shy girl might push her way to the front of the crowd hoping her favourite celebrity might notice her smiling face as he walks by. But in his clear sighted faith the blindman knows the prophets wrote that the Son of David would come to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, freedom to the captives, and good news to the poor. So he calls out all the more, believing, being bold, taking God’s prophets at their word. And Jesus heals him. But more importantly, His faith in the promises of God saves him.
Cryptic sayings. Hidden things. Your faith has made you well. Isn’t that one a little bit hidden or confusing? We know perfectly well it is Our Lord who healed him, not His faith. Thus a clearer, less hidden translation would be not, “Your faith made you well,” but, “Your faith has saved you.” But then, doesn’t faith heal? Faith in Our Lord Jesus, in His gracious providence for those who are His, in His salvation of beaten down broken sinners, in His never-give-up-on-you love which took Him to the cross, that faith heals your broken heart. That trust strengthens your dying soul. That love gives you a quiet joy in the midst of sadness that engulfs you.
For such faith causes you to cry unto the Lord when you are down and out, when you are lost and lonely, when you don’t know where to turn. That faith cries out just as the spiritually seeing blind man did.
And so we shout with him, “Kyrie eleison—Lord, have mercy, be merciful to me. It’s a command. Jesus is the one who has mercy. But in faith we boldly command Him because His mission is not hidden to us. In faith we see clearly as the blind man. So we know, we trust, we see that we must cry out to God our Father and Jesus our saviour. For who can help us but Him?
He is love. He does not fail. He is not rude to you in your need. He is not too proud to come down to where you are in your misery. He does not rub salt in your wounds. He doesn’t delight in your suffering the way we do. He doesn’t insist on His own way, but in love for you and His Father He goes His Father’s way, the way of the cross. He does it not resenting you, nor His Father, nor your many, endlessly repetitive sins. Rather, He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things for you. He bears all your sins. He believes that His salvation is for you. He hopes for and works to accomplish your salvation and that of everyone. He endured the cross the cross to make it so. And His loving forgiveness declares you a new person and redeems all your missed chances, your failed efforts, and your didn’t quite get the job done tries. That’s what He does for you. That is the love He has for you.
He smothers you with His love, pouring it out superabundantly on you. He gave you the eyes of faith in your Baptism and ears that hear. And hearing His Word these eyes see not just bread and wine, but His body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins. They see not just water on a baby but the death of the sinful nature and the rising of a new man of faith. They see not just hot air from a man in silly robes but the very breath of God breathing new life into your soul.
His Word creates faith which sees, hearts which hear, minds which fathom previously hidden mysteries. That was the problem of the disciples. Our Lord had called them just as He does so many in Baptism. He had given them faith. He was speaking His Word to them to increase that faith. But sin in them, a desire for Jesus to be something other than what the prophets had said of Him, was keeping them from hearing and seeing. His words were cryptic, hidden from them. For almost every single one of them it took His witnessing His death and resurrection, and receiving the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to open their eyes to what the prophets had written about Him.
Ask yourself: what of God’s Word do I not accept this day? What lies hidden to me? And then say in faith,” Kyrie eleison. Mercy to me. Lord, I believe, repent me of my unbelief. For the Lord will heal you of such blindness. And you too will glorify God!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
---Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON