“Lord, Open Our Eyes”
Philip G. Meyer, Pastor Emeritus
19 February 2023
SOLI DEO GLORIA!
The disciples should make us feel more comfortable about our inability to grasp what Jesus says. “To see” is a synonym for “to grasp.” The twelve had trouble grasping what was important many times. They got sidetracked; their sinful ambitions got in the way; they weren’t able to understand the cross.
Jesus had been speaking quite frankly about being his disciples. After the rich young ruler approached Jesus asking what he needed to do to get eternal life, Jesus told him that he had to give everything he owned to the poor and then come and follow him. Jesus was showing him that this man’s god was his wealth and that must be put aside before he could follow Jesus. Peter, as spokesman for the twelve, said,
“See, we have left our homes and followed you.” [Luke 18.28]
The twelve think that their sacrifice was enough to get them heaven.
Our Gospel reading picks this up when Jesus foretells his death for the third time. One would have thought that once or maybe even twice would be enough, but not so. Luke records their reaction,
But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
Something hidden cannot be seen with the eyes. In a way this is like a saying we have, that something is hiding in plain sight. It is so clear that we don’t see it. For whatever reason Jesus kept it hidden from them at this point, perhaps because they would desert him before his suffering, death, and resurrection were accomplished. God wanted eyewitnesses to all these things.
For many people the Christian faith is about following rules and regulations, much like the Pharisees and the scribes, or lawyers. They thought that living a moral life, that is, what is moral in their own eyes—is enough. The rich young ruler certainly thought so. Suffering and death are far from their thoughts. The twelve were not thinking death on a cross. Maybe giving up creature comforts would be enough. That was the predominant view in Medieval times when many ran into the monasteries and convents to live in poverty without marriage as a way of earning God’s forgiveness.
These people could not see what God wanted them to see. They could not properly grasp the purpose of Jesus’ sacrificial death, that he paid the price that only he could pay. They thought that they could, in some small way, make up for some of it. They did not grasp the nature of God’s kingdom.
Nothing has changed since those days except for the fact that many are not even asking about God’s kingdom. They are blinded by the delusions of Satan that there does not need to be a payment for our sins. In fact, the dominant thought in every age is that God never condemns anyone for his sins. Everyone gets heaven. At least, that’s what most who claim to believe in God say. They are spiritually blind.
You’ve probably seen the ads sponsored by an LLC called “He Gets Us.” Upwards of a billion dollars have been spent. Much of this has been funded in part by Hobby Lobby, a store that refuses to be open on Sunday because people should attend worship. I have no quarrel with that, but this campaign, far from calling for repentance, tries to transform Jesus to fit our culture. Here are the hashtags:
Do you “see” what’s missing? There is no call to repentance, to put away one’s sins, and take up one’s cross and follow Jesus. They say that Jesus was “only human after all.” It denies his divinity. Jesus has been rebranded! It seems to say that Jesus Christ and him crucified, isn’t enough to save. In fact, his death on the cross is not even mentioned. The ads never tell us what Jesus did—that is, die.
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.
The online ad asks for donations for their caps, shirts, and other gear with this enjoinder:
THE ONLY CURRENCY YOU’LL NEED IS KINDNESS, COMPASSION, AND LOVE.
One only needs to be loving and accepting. For them acceptance is the essence of the Gospel. Quite evidently, one does not need repentance because it’s never mentioned in any ads I have seen. They don’t see the cross. They don’t call for repentance. To change their phrase, “They don’t get Jesus!”
Anti-Christians have seized on the hypocrisy of these ads. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jumped on it immediately. She tweeted, “Something tells me Jesus would *not* spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make fascism look benign.” She got more that 200,00 likes and 20,000 retweets as of February 13. Anyone who calls Christianity “Fascism” is certainly no friend of Jesus! Yet, even demons rightly named Jesus the Son of God [Matt. 8.29]. They were not fascists but demons.
Our so-called goodness, acceptance, and love are not the right way to God. Only Christ crucified is. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. [1 Cor. 2.1-2].
Our eyes must be opened to grasp God’s mystery. The twelve were still blind even though they had been with Jesus nearly three years. It should impress upon us that sitting in the pew for three years, or thirty years, or sixty years will not of itself cure one’s blindness. Only God the Holy Spirit can open our eyes, and that he does through his Word. Repentance must follow. Christ crucified for our sins must be the message, not the hashtags of “He Gets Us.”
The metaphor here is that of sight. Coming into Jericho Jesus is confronted by a blind beggar. When this blind beggar hears that Jesus is passing by he cried out,
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
He called Jesus by his messianic name. He knows who Jesus is. He grasps what the twelve could not yet see. The crowd told him to pipe down. They expressed their sharp disapproval because they believed him unworthy of Christ’s attention. But a strange thing happens. The more they censure him the more loudly he shouts to Jesus to have mercy on him. His faith is more fully formed than that of the twelve. He’s in the category with other very unlikely people—the woman with the hemorrhage, the centurion, prostitutes, and tax collectors. They all see while the twelve are still blind. This blind beggar sees and is transformed. He is twice blessed with sight, his spiritual sight being saving faith.
And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God.
“To follow” is the classic definition for discipleship. He may well have followed Jesus to Jerusalem and seen with his own physical eyes all of which we will focus upon during the Lenten season, especially Holy Week. How blessed this beggar was! No longer in darkness either physically or spiritually, he saw. We see with the eyes of faith. God the Holy Spirit has blest us with the eyes to see what Jesus did for us in Jerusalem in his innocent suffering, death, and resurrection.
Lord, continue to open our eyes to behold the glory of your death and resurrection that we may understand what it means, why it was necessary, and that we may see what we need most. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!
In the Name of the Father and of the ✠Son and of the Holy Spirit