February 22, 2009 - Quinquagesima

Today's Reading: Luke 18:31-43

Daily Lectionary: Job 17:1-16; John 7:14-31

But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken. (Luke 18:34)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. They didn't get it. Then immediately after that He healed a blind man who rejoiced and followed Jesus. It's easy to be hard on the disciples. But we know that later on, after Jesus rose from the dead, they preach Christ to the ends of the earth, even at the cost of their own lives. What changed?

To receive Jesus, we need to become beggars. People who can save themselves, buy what they need, take care of themselves—such people don't need a Savior. Even while they were followers of Jesus, the disciples still had pretty high opinions of themselves. Even though we follow Jesus, we still think we're good and have good intentions and there must be something in us that God likes.

Nope. We're beggars. The only thing we will have is what is given to us. So along comes our Lord and puts into our hand the riches of everlasting life. Along comes Jesus who opens our eyes by the preaching of the words so that we may behold Him on the cross, crucified for our sins. Along comes Jesus, who washes us and gives us a new robe to replace our beggar robes which are dirty and stinky with sin. Along comes Jesus, not to yell at us and hustle us off the road, but to absolve us and declare us God's children. Along comes Jesus to give to us starving sinners the food of His flesh and blood for eternal life.

What can we earn from God? What can we afford to buy from Him? What can we contribute to the Lord? With what can we bribe Him or get His attention? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But as Jesus has pity upon a blind beggar so He has pity on us all, by opening our eyes and filling our open hands with His riches. That's faith, the open hands of a beggar waiting hopefully and confidently for Jesus to fill them with good things. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

O Lord, we implore You, mercifully hear our prayers, and, having set us free from the bonds of sin, defend us from all evil; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Quinquagesima)