Sunday, March 2, 2014

First Sermon as an Anglican

First Sermon as an Anglican

Calvin, boys, and Me at Covenant REC 2.jpg

Calvin with Josh and Jackson
Me and Fr Richard Workowski

Mercy, Mercy on Me

Gospel: Luke 18: 31-43
Homily Text: Luke 18: 35-43

31 Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
32 For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
33 And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
34 And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
35 And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:
36 And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.
37 And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
38 And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.
39 And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.
40 And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,
41 Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
42 And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Which of your senses would you go without if you had to lose one and could choose? Smell? Think of never smelling a rose, or the food being cooked on the stove, or the approach of a spring rain. Taste? Think of never tasting the sweet or saltiness of food. Touch? Think of sensing heat or cold or the softness of a baby’s skin, Hearing? Think think of never hearing the voice of your spouse or children, the beauty of music, or the warning of a siren. But, I think that for the majority of people the sense they most fear losing is sight - living the the darkness, never seeing a blue sky or a flower or the faces of those you love.

That was the situation of a blind man whom Jesus encountered near Jericho.

Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem which was about 18 miles from Jericho.  Jesus knew that in Jerusalem he would be mistreated and put to death. It was the holy Passover season, and other pilgrims were traveling the same road to Jerusalem as Jesus and his disciples.

On this road a blind man met Jesus.

The Man’s Condition

The man Jesus encountered along the road was both blind and needy - he had no sight, which was a great handicap -  there was little  a blind man could do for work to support himself - there were no training programs for the  and no system in place to care for those who fell through what we would call the “social safety net” - he would have been dependent on family members, and if no family members or they were unwilling, then he he would have been dependent on  the charity of others -this no doubt is why he was sitting by the roadside where people were traveling - it was a place where many would be passing by and where he could beg for help - he not only was blind, he was poor and unable to meet his own needs - he had no choice but to beg

The man was literally blind, but we must ask why he was blind. We cannot say it was because of some particular sin in his life. Jesus warned us that it is wrong to make that kind of correlation, to try to explain a person’s suffering in light of some particular sin he has committed. But we can say that he was blind because of sin. All human suffering is the result of sin and the suffering that has come upon the human race because of sin. In other words all human suffering reminds us of the reality of human sin  against God. The human race’s rebellion against God is what has brought suffering and death on us. Behind every bit of pain, suffering, and sorrow is the reality of sin. And, however much we may need and long for deliverance from our troubles, our greatest need is always for deliverance from sin.

Whatever may be our physical and temporal problems, and we all have them, the basic problem we all have is the problem of sin, which makes us helpless and needy. That is true of us before we come to faith, and it is true of us still after we come to faith because we are still sinners. We are blind and beggarly in our sin.  We are in deep trouble, which we cannot fix. We have a great need which we cannot supply.That may be a an unhappy thought to us. But, remember, as is the case with many things, the solution begins with knowing what the problem is. Our problem is sin, spiritual blindness, spiritual helplessness, spiritual need.

The Man’s Request

The man heard something different from the usual sounds of foot traffic and conversation on the road. There was a larger crowd and some kind of commotion He asked for someone to tell him what was going on. It’s obvious that at least some knew something about Jesus for they told the man that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by just on the road. And, the blind man knew something about Jesus, too, for he began to cry out.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

The people who were near the front, rebuked the man: “Shush. Be quiet.” Perhaps they were embarrassed by the man’s loud voice. Perhaps they thought Jesus was too important and/or to busy to be delayed by a blind beggar. But their rebukes did not nothing. In fact the rebukes had the opposite effect. The man was needy and desperate. He would not be quiet. All the more loudly and persistently, he cried out:

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!

Notice, how he addresses our Lord.

Jesus - that is the personal name of our Lord - it is
the Greek
equivalent of the OT name Joshua, and many people had that name, but that name has a meaning and a significance - it means “Yawheh, or
“the LORD saves” God is the Savior of his people. But it had a special significance when it was given toour Lord. The angel told Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins. 

Son of David - the man calls Jesus “Son of David” Jesus was a descendant of the great King David, the man God chose to rule his people. The Jewish people understood that one day God would send a descendant of David who would be their deliverer. This One would be not just a son of David but the Son of David, the Messiah, the one God would anoint as the King and Redeemer of God’s people. We do not know how this man knew or how much he knew but he did believe that the Man passing by on the road just now was the Messiah.

The Man the blind man calls out to Jesus is the Savior, not just from blindness, but from its cause, sin, not just a Son of David but the Messiah whom God has sent to deliver his people.

Have mercy on me. Perhaps the primary thing that was on his mind at the time was the need for mercy on him in his blindness and poverty. But, while he needs sight, his need is bigger than that - it is for Jesus to look upon him as a man who is suffering the troubles of sin, to be moved with pity and to act to deliver.

Have you noticed how often the Prayer Book leads us to ask for mercy? Prayer of confession: “Have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.”

In Morning Prayer: “O Lord, show thy mercy upon us.”  

In Evening Prayer, the Gloria in Excelsis: “O Lord God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.”  “O Lord, show thy mercy upon us. And grant us thy salvation.”

The Litany: 3X Have mercy upon us miserable sinners.

The Lesser Litany: “Mercifully forgive the sins of thy people.”  And almost the words of this blind beggar: “O Son of David, have mercy upon us.”

When the Law is read at Holy Communion, after each commandment, we pray: “Lord, have mercy upon us.”

I think the most basic of all prayers that rise up from a believing sinner’s heart is, “Lord, have mercy.”

We are people who are always in need of mercy. It is extremely humbling to plead for mercy.  To ask for mercy puts us in an even lower position than to ask for grace. When we ask for grace we ask God to give us what we do not deserve, to do for us that we cannot do for ourselves. But when we ask for mercy, we are suffering, and we have brought it upon ourselves, and we ask  for God to look on our suffering, suffering which we deserve, which often we have brought on ourselves, and  to have pity on us and save us.

The Man’s Healing

Jesus stopped and commanded man brought to him. Jesus cares about somebodies. But he also cares about the nobodies. When parents were bringing their babies to Jesus, and his disciples stepped in to prevent them, Jesus sharply rebuked the disciples: “Suffer the little children to come to me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus cares about the Pharisee, but he also cares about the tax collector who cannot even lift up his eyes to heaven, but can only beat his chest and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Jesus never turns a deaf ear to pleas for mercy. He had the man brought to him, and Jesus asked:

What do you want me to do to you?

What is it you or I want Jesus to do for us? May God grant us the grace that, however we may ask him for mercy in relieving our pains or removing our troubles, our most frequent and heartfelt prayer is, “God be merciful to me. Take away the guilt and condemnation of my sin. Give me the grace to hate and fight against my sins, not just at Lent but always.”

Man says,

Lord, to receive my sight.

Jesus responds:

Receive your sight. Instantly Jesus gives the man his

Your faith has saved you.

Jesus points to the man’s faith, his trust in Jesus and what Jesus could do for him. It is not as though there is any power in the man’s faith. Faith is not “positive thinking” or “name it and claim it.” Faith is the way this man was connected to Jesus, and Jesus is the one who healed him. The key is always faith. How do we get mercy? Mercy is always obtained by faith.

Jesus says, “Your faith has saved you. The word “saved” that Luke uses is a word with a double meaning. It can mean “healed” as this man was of his blindness. It can also mean salvation in our greater deliverance from sin. Both meanings are meant here. The man was healed, and the man was saved. He came to Jesus wanting healing, and he got that and something much greater, his salvation.

The mercy the man received by faith produced gratitude. He followed  Jesus and glorified God. May God’s mercy to us in Christ lead to our following Jesus more closely and our praising God more intentionally and sincerely.

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