“We cry out to Jesus for mercy!” – The Sunday on the Way to Jerusalem — February 19, 2023

YouTube player

19. February 2023


Luke 18:31-43

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

Today, we find ourselves in the gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verses 35-43. This passage tells us about a blind beggar who hears that Jesus is passing by and calls out to him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd tells him to be quiet, but he persists, and Jesus stops to heal him, saying, “Your faith has saved you.”

Now, this may seem like a simple story, but it is loaded with significance. It tells us not only about the power of faith, but also about the nature of God’s grace and the role of the Holy Spirit in creating faith. And that’s the whole point of the gospel, to announce that we are free to be with God on the basis of sheer grace. In other words, salvation is not something we earn or deserve, but it’s a gift freely given by God. And this gift of grace is made possible by the Holy Spirit, who creates faith in us.

Luther’s commentary on the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed in his catechisms also emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in creating faith. He writes that “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.”

This is exactly what we see happening in the story of the blind man. The man calls out to Jesus, showing that he has faith in him, but that faith was not something he conjured up on his own. It was the Holy Spirit who gave him the gift of faith, which forced out a cry from him, calling out to Jesus for help.

Trusting Jesus is not a human accomplishment or something that comes naturally to us. Faith in Jesus is a gift of God given by the Holy Spirit through his promises and gifts. And this is precisely what we see happening in this story. The blind man is not healed because of his own merit or worthiness, but because of the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit gave him.

But this gift of faith is not something we can simply take for granted. Faith can only exist in the face of death, in the face of the complete destruction of our own power and ability. That means that it is only when we realize our own helplessness and inability to save ourselves that we can truly receive the gift of faith.

This is also true of the blind man. He was a blind beggar, completely dependent on the kindness of others for his survival. He had no power or ability to heal himself, and he knew it. It was only in the face of his own helplessness that he cried out to Jesus for mercy.

And it is this cry for mercy that is at the heart of the gospel.The gospel is not good news for those who are strong, self-reliant, and powerful. The gospel is good news for those who are weak, helpless, and lost.

The man was weak, helpless, and lost, and it was precisely for people like him that Jesus came. Jesus did not come to save the righteous, but sinners. He did not come to heal the healthy, but the sick. And it is only when our own sin, sickness, and weakness is revealed to us by God’s Word that we can truly receive the gift of grace that Jesus offers.

But this gift of grace is not without cost. As we see in the verses leading up to the story of the blind man, Jesus tells his disciples that he must suffer and be killed before he rises from the dead. This is the cost of our salvation, and it is a cost that Jesus willingly paid on our behalf.

Luther’s commentary on the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed reminds us that “Jesus Christ… has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.”

This is the gift of grace that we receive through faith. It is a gift that we could never earn or deserve, but one that is freely given by God out of his great love for us. And this gift of grace is not just a one-time event, but an ongoing reality in our lives. Grace is not just a thing given to us once and for all, but a power that transforms us daily, constantly recreating us and making us new.

This transformation is what we see happening in the life of the blind man. He receives the gift of faith, and it transforms him from a blind beggar to a follower of Jesus. And this same transformation is done to each and every one of us, as we continue to receive the gift of grace from the Holy Spirit as he works in our lives preaching the Gospel and delivering his gifts to us.

It is only through the preaching of the Gospel that the Holy Spirit creates faith in us. And this is why it is so important that we continue to gather together as the Church to hear the Word of God, receive the sacraments, and be built up in our faith.

This is what we see happening in the story of the blind man. He hears that Jesus is passing by and cries out to him, showing that he has already heard and believed the Gospel. And when Jesus stops and heals him, he becomes a follower of Jesus, joining the community of faith.

And this is what we are called to do as well. We are called to hear the Gospel, believe it, and become part of the community of faith. We are called to receive the gift of grace, be transformed by it, and proclaim it to others because the gift of grace is not for us alone. It is meant to be shared with others, to be given away freely and joyfully. And that’s the Christian life in a nutshell. 

The Christian life is the life of those who have been reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And because we have been forgiven and reconciled through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are now free to love and serve others without fear or anxiety. This is what the blind man did when he followed Jesus after he was healed. He glorified God and served others, because he had been saved by Jesus’ grace and mercy.

As we go about our daily lives, we too live in the reality of God’s grace, trusting in Jesus’ promise of salvation, living as people who have been forgiven and reconciled to God. And so we, like the blind man, glorify God and serve others, knowing that we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

So when we leave this little church, rejoicing in the gift of grace that we have received, we announce it to all those we meet. We cry out to Jesus for mercy, and trust in the Holy Spirit to create and sustain our faith, pour out his grace on others, and keep us with Jesus now and always. AMEN.

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