Lord, Have Mercy – The Cry Of Faith
St. Luke 18:31-43 (2/15/15)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the holy Spirit.
St. Luke 18:38 – And he cried out saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our Lord… We are near the beginning of our Lenten journey to the cross of Calvary and the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Things are about to take on a more serious tone. Our need is great; the price for our salvation is high.
Jesus knew this as He went along the road to Jericho with His disciples so many years ago. He wanted to warn them of the trials and heartaches they would face, and so He told them what would happen to Him. He would be taken by unbelievers, mocked, insulted, spat upon, and then He would die as a common criminal. But on the third day He would rise again from the dead and would break the bonds of Satan forever.
Unfortunately the disciples didn’t get it. They could not fathom that the very Son of God would die for sinners like you and me. In their puny, sinful self-centered minds God was high and mighty, holy and unreachable. He was too important to die for the likes of common sinners. They didn’t understand how God worked.
And this is also how you and I think about God. He may be great and mighty, but when push comes to shove – when life truly gets horrible and messy – that is when Satan tries to creep in and convince you that God doesn’t really care about you. God has more important things to do than to listen to the prayer of one tired sinner from Divine Savior Lutheran Church.
According to God’s Law, as long as you are trying to work this out and figure things out for yourself, that is true. When you try to manipulate God or try to placate Him by figuring out everything on your own, you will end up in the dust in the end. You can’t do it. You are a poor, miserable sinner, tired and weak from the battle against the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh. Evil forces are at work in your life, forces that seek to rip you away from God and from His loving embrace. And the saddest thing of all is that you start listening to those voices and believe them: “God doesn’t care about you. You are all alone.” That is the lie which Satan would have you believe.
But that is not the God of love; that is not the God who gave His Son into death for you. God sent His Son into the flesh in order to die for you, and He loves you with every fiber of His being. More than anything else in the world He wants to draw you into His life. He wants you to be a part of His life. He comes down from heaven and enters into your flesh and blood so that when you suffer, He suffers. And when He died, you died in order that when He rose again you rise again in the waters of Holy Baptism. Your life is bound together with His.
And that is what the disciples could not understand. And so our Lord brings blind Bartimaeus to the road so that He may have mercy on this poor man. This man is one who had been abandoned by all; he was alone, he was without any help. He could not see and so his whole world was one of darkness and fear. And that is also a good description of you trapped in your sins.
But God in His mercy gave great faith to this blind man. As they walked along the road, Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Lord, have mercy!” It is the cry of faith. Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus knowing that Jesus alone is the source and object of his faith. For you see, faith always looks outside of oneself and to Jesus Christ alone; that is the only faith that finally matters. And this is where Bartimaeus looks – he looks with the eyes of faith to the one and only source of mercy in his life. He looks to Jesus.
The crowds and the disciples didn’t get it. They urged the blind man to shut up and go away. “Don’t you know that Jesus has more important things to do than to help some poor, pathetic blind beggar? Jesus is an important man; He has places to go, things to do, people to see. He doesn’t have time for the likes of you.” …or so they thought.
But the more they tried to quiet the blind man, the more he cried out: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And it is then that we read this wonderful verse: “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him.” Jesus is on His way to die. He is surrounded by people who supposedly adore Him and hail Him as a great prophet. And yet right in the middle of the road He stopped; and He did so because of the prayer of one of His own children – one of His own children who cried out to Him in faith.
Now there is a true picture of God. Heaven and earth come to a screeching halt at the voice of prayer crying out in faith. Now we can see how very much God loves His children, how much He loves you. Nothing else matters. No one else matters. You are His sole concern and object of His love. At your cry for help He swoops down out of heaven and gathers you up in His arms.
Jesus even asked Bartimaeus what he wanted, and Bartimaeus told Him: “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Seems to me that Bartimaeus was seeing just fine. He saw through the haze and the fear and the crowds and the hushing of God’s true character. He clung to those words from Jesus: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
This is the very essence of the Christian faith. Faith clings to Jesus alone. Faith clings to the Word of God alone. And it does so even when it seems as if heaven and earth are crashing in all around you. And that faith will never be disappointed, for a faith that rests on the sure and certain promises of God can never be disappointed. For faith that clings to Jesus alone will never miss the mark or fail. Jesus stood still; He hears your prayers; He will listen to your cry for mercy. And He will give you what you truly need – He will give you Himself.
That is why we Lutherans look to the Lord’s Supper as the greatest gift we have from God. Holy Baptism creates faith and is the foundation. The Word of God and Holy Absolution strengthen faith and keep it pointed to Christ. But the Lord’s Supper connects us to Jesus in the deepest and most intimate way possible.
In the genius and beauty of the Lutheran Liturgy we sing,” O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.” And guess what happens next? He does! He does have mercy upon us! And He does so by coming to you physically, really, and truly. Here is where Christ dwells in you. Here is where Christ places His living, resurrected body and blood into your sinful and dying body. Here is where you constantly receive the benefits of Christ suffering and death on the cross “for you” and “for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Here is where God again declares you holy in His sight – not because of anything you have done but because of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. Here is where Christ once again makes you clean by His blood.
This is the work of the God who does wonders. This is the work of the God who stops heaven and earth to hear your prayer. This is the work of the God who comes into your flesh to give you the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that only He can give.
Cry out to God in faith. Cry out with the words of Bartimaeus and whole Church in heaven and on earth: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy.” He does! And He will! Believe it for Jesus’ sake.
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit.