Quinquagesima Sunday + Luke 18:31-43
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from the dead.” [Luke 9:22]
These are the words that Jesus spoke when He predicted His suffering and death the first time. Jesus, the Son of Man, born of the Virgin Mary, must suffer many things, including being rejected by the religious leaders, those whose responsibility it was to lead the people in thanks, praise and obedience toward Him. Those whom He came to save, would put Jesus to death on the cross. This all must happen to pay the price for our sins. A price must be paid for our rejection of God and His commands. Jesus must purchase and win us from sin, death and hell, by His holy precious blood and with His innocent, bitter suffering and death and that is why He has come down from heaven to dwell among us.
“The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” [Luke 9:44]
These are the words that Jesus spoke when He predicted His suffering and death the second time. Jesus, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created heaven and earth, humbled Himself, allowing Himself to be betrayed by one of His disciples. For thirty pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus into the hands of His enemies. Jesus was arrested and suffered under Pontius Pilate. Jesus was nailed to the cross by those whom He loved. They hated Him, they wanted nothing to do with Him.
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For 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.” [Luke 18:31-33]
These are the words that Jesus spoke when He predicted His suffering and death, on Good Friday, for the third and final time. Slowly, Jesus prepares His disciples for His suffering and death, that they would pick up their cross and follow Him. Slowly, Jesus prepares His disciples for the events of Holy Week, that they would not run away and begin to doubt Him and what He came to accomplish. Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the Lamb of God, who willing suffered and died for the sins of the world. Jesus, the Lamb of God, shows us grace by loving us even though we don’t deserve to be loved, showing us mercy, not punishing us even though we deserve to be punished.
That is why Jesus and His disciples are going to Jerusalem; it is here that He must suffer under Pontius Pilate, be crucified, die, be buried, and on the Third Day rise again from the grave. God the Father so loved the world, that He gave His only Son unto death on the cross, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God the Father did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but He sent His Son that the world might be saved through Him. Jesus, True God and True Man, will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. Jesus will endure whipping and beating and even death for sins He did not commit.
The prophet Isaiah describes Jesus’ suffering and death this way,“He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed him not. [Isaiah 53:2–3]
Just like the Prophet Samuel, who was sent to anoint David as the King of Israel, no one thought that David, the youngest of the sons of Jesse should be king, but that is exactly whom God had chosen. Samuel thought it would be one of the older, stronger, better looking brothers, but the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected them. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
No one wanted anything to do with Jesus or His kingdom and they turned away from Him, but Jesus wanted everything to do with us, and everything that He did was for us and our salvation.
This is why our reading two weeks ago, at the beginning of Pre-Lent, was the workers sent out to labor in the vineyard. Those who worked, no matter whether they worked from the very beginning of the day or just an hour at the very end of the day, all received the same wages. It was not about how hard the laborers worked or how well the laborers worked but the generosity of the landowner. He wanted all people to be generously provided for. Jesus willingly suffered and died for all people, that all would receive the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. Do not see things as the world sees things but as God sees things. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” [Isaiah 55:8]
And our reading for last week, Sexagesima Sunday, with the Sowing of the Seed. Jesus sows the seed of His Holy Word generously, He scatters it everywhere. Jesus generously preaches and teaches concerning His kingdom in all places, His desire is to produce a great harvest and He does just that. By Jesus sowing His seed generously He produces good soil and a good harvest. He makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that He has commanded. Behold, He is with us always, to the end of the age. [Matthew 28:19-20]
This is why God the Son came down from heaven and became flesh. This is why Jesus is going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. He sets us free from the bonds of our sins. He delivers us from every evil.
As we have slowly done during these last few weeks, preparing ourselves for Lent and the important events of Holy Week, may we like the blind man was sitting by the roadside beg Jesus for mercy. God grant that we not allow the devil, the world, or even our own sinful flesh to rebuke us and tell us to be silent, or to turn away from Jesus who comes to save us. God grant that we cry out and cry out loudly, Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Pray that with all boldness and confidence, Jesus would hear us and answer us. Pray that with our eyes of faith, we would see clearly that Jesus is our Savior and by His wounds we are healed. May Jesus say to us, as He said to the blind man, “Your faith has made you well.” And with the man who could now see, follow Him and glorify Him, giving HIm alone all thanks and praise. Amen.