“See with Eyes of Faith” Trinity 13 2023

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03. September 2023

Trinity 13

Luke 10:23-37

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

You are given as baptized Christians to see the entire world as it is. But this sight does not come by your physical eyes but through God’s Word and Spirit-given faith. Your physical eyes deceive you because they only see what the flesh knows. You see a damned sinner or a self-righteous saint when you look at yourself or those around you. But neither vision is the truth and is, at best, a half-truth. 

If you see as the flesh sees, you will see only corruption. If you look with eyes toward justice and law, you will despair for today and the future. And if you keep looking, you see only a damnable world full of murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, slander, libel, greed, and worse. It appears that everyone is under demonic sway, corrupt and corrupting. Even the churches offer no clarity of purpose and future.

But you are given as baptized Christians to see the entire world as it is. This sight does not come through your physical eyes but through God’s Word and Spirit-given faith. When you look around with eyes of faith, enlightened by the Gospel, you see sinners for whom Jesus died. You see neighbors whom Jesus gave you to love with His love. You see a world desperately needing Christ’s blood-bought grace, mercy, and peace. Your physical eyes cannot see this. Only eyes lit by the Gospel of Jesus Christ can.

You know that the flesh is opposed to the Spirit. You see everything in two ways—according to the Law, which shows you and your neighbor’s sin, or according to the Gospel, which forgives you and your neighbor. it doesn’t take a Word from God to see all the wrongdoing, corruption, and death in ourselves and our neighbor. We have a law written on our hearts that reveals the truth just fine. 

But we have an adaptive blindness to our sin and a hyper-sensitivity to our neighbor’s faults. We’re good at avoiding our own guilt and heaping shame upon our neighbor. So, God spoke the Law in all its severity on Sinai so that neither you nor your neighbor has any excuse. When the Law of God speaks, sin increases beyond measure, and all are declared captive, enslaved, and guilty. And if that were it, we’d be stripped naked, robbed of anything we could trust, and left for dead in the ditch. And the sad truth is that we and everyone else in that mass grave deserve to be there. 

God has revealed this truth, so we see ourselves truthfully according to the flesh—sinners without hope or prayer. But God didn’t stop speaking. Long before Sinai, He spoke a Word of promise—the promised Seed who would crush the Serpent’s head, in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed, whose fellow brothers and sisters would be more numerous than the stars of the heaven or the sand on the shore.  That Word of promise predates even the foundation of the world. That promise overcomes whatever your flesh sees, or God’s Law reveals. The Gospel promise of Christ crucified for forgiveness is the only answer for the desperate sinner whose conscience is tormented.

And where there is forgiveness, there is also life and salvation. Jesus is at work to care for all of you, body and soul. He promises never to leave you or forsake you. Nothing—not sin, death, or devils—can tear you away from His gracious love. And His perfect love is given as a gift. No merit or worthiness is needed because everything for life and salvation is freely and graciously given to you and to all who believe. 

Your baptized eyes see this as what is real. You don’t see as mere physical eyes see. You see the Lamb of God on his altar throne, giving His body and blood for you. You see Jesus standing in your midst, forgiving your sins. You see Jesus washing you with water, absolving and cleansing. You see Jesus in His pulpit proclaiming His Word, which alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And when your eyes now see that, you will see everything and everyone around you differently, too.

You see brothers and sisters, all reborn and adopted by water and the Word. You see a family rooted and grounded in Christ’s love. You see kin, who are yours to love and care for, not by human blood but by divine promise. You see a family gathering of dysfunctional sinners but living together by the atoning blood of Christ. As far as Jesus is concerned, we were all once His rebels and enemies, but now He made us his friends and brothers by dying to redeem us. 

And when you continue to look out, you’ll see more. You’ll see neighbors—friends or foes—whom Jesus died for and given to be recipients of Jesus’ grace, mercy, peace, hope, life, salvation, and resurrection, too. There is no distinction or judgment you can ever let get in the way of Christ using you as instruments of His love. They could be the annoying next-door neighbor whose every action gets your nerve. Forgive, love, and be patient and gracious with him, just as Jesus is with you.

And the possibilities to love are as numerous as sinners in the world. Love begins with prayer because all true prayer is grounded in God’s Word, revealing and forgiving sin. Your neighbor could be a coworker who is impossible to work with and doesn’t deserve the job. Forgive her without limit, with undeserved charity. Your neighbor could be Russian aggressors or Ukrainian oligarchs. Both “sides” need Jesus to bring peace, a lasting peace that only forgiveness can give. They could be January 6th “insurrectionists,” rotting in jail with no due process, speedy trial, exaggerated charges, and now neglected and dejected. These fellow citizens need your loving care—advocacy, money, letters to Congress, or care packages for their children. However, how you feel about what they did or even what the courts ruled is irrelevant. They and their families need absolution and love. The opportunities are endless. I’m sure you have thought of many more already.

How could we possibly love them all? Who is my neighbor? You think no one has the time, resources, facilities, patience, or means to do it even a little, never mind all. You can’t see how it’s possible. But don’t be like the lawyer who can only think according to the Law. You’re thinking according to the flesh again. You’re setting limits on love and making excuses for your negligence. And why? 

Look around and see with eyes of faith! You have a cup overflowing with grace and mercy, a spring of living waters that never dries, and a tree whose fruit is always in season—your Jesus, whose compassion for you and those He has given you to love never ceases. And so today, Jesus is here to bind up your wounds, to heal you of your sin and rebellion, carry you on His shoulders into this holy inn, and care for you. His mercies never cease, and so yours won’t either. 

“Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin