Tag Archive for: Quinquagesima

Click here for the reading: Luke 18:31-43.

The blind man cannot see the sons of Jesse pass by, but he knows Who Jesus of Nazareth is and what He can do. The blind man cannot be impressed by how people look or how they are looked at by others. The blind man cannot see the things on which the seeing man fixates. The blind man could not see that the fruit in the garden looked wonderful. But the blind man can hear about Jesus.

The Bible’s preference for hearing over sight is a temporary one. Some day we shall see Him and love His appearing, but for now hearing is far better, even as the prophecies of Scripture are more sure for Saint Peter even than the vision on the mountain he, James, and John were granted (2 Pet. 1). When the blind hear, they too believe and cry out to David’s Son.

David’s Son is able to do all things well. He is coming into His kingdom, and the blind man believes in His power to save and to heal. These wonders have still more to follow, but what follows is strange even to His closest disciples. What follows is what He has determined in His heart to do: the suffering and the death He must face at His own people’s hands. Why is this strange even to His disciples?

“Everything that is written about the Son of Man” should have prepared the disciples to receive His teaching and to understand what had to occur – how necessary for the world’s salvation and renewal is His glorious death, how much His resurrection will mean for a change in all things forever. They should have understood what the Scriptures say and what the Lord teaches, “but they understood none of these things.”

For now, these things are “hidden from them.” The knowledge of the Lord and the love of all He teaches and all He is a gift. No one comes by it naturally, and both His work of salvation for us and His opening of our minds and hearts to grasp His salvation are gifts. The Lord does not give or do or teach according to our expectation anymore than He would choose Israel’s king from among the candidates presumed likely to inherit the throne. All His works and all His ways are His own, and He chooses to reveal His Son and all things to us from sheer grace.

So we do not pray to know all and to surpass all others in our knowledge. We do not pray for might and power. He will give knowledge, might, and power in His Spirit as He sees fit and to whom it is His pleasure to give. Instead, we pray to know our blindness and to ask for grace and light. We pray for our eyes to be opened and for our minds to be opened to understand the Scriptures. We pray to receive our sight and for Him not to keep hidden His whole counsel of wisdom, truth, and grace.

Click here for the reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

The irony of this passage’s use at weddings is that marriages are among the good gifts of this life that will pass away along with prophecies, languages, and knowledge. The things now so highly and rightly prized are ours for a time and for a purpose. We have husband or wife to love and to cherish until death us do part. We have prophecy to proclaim the oracles of God as we find them in Scripture. We have languages to speak the Word of God in people’s own languages. We have knowledge to proclaim the knowledge of the Lord throughout the earth.

But this must all pass and shall pass. All this will be eclipsed. It will not be burnt up and destroyed, but it will be swallowed up and surpassed. Death will end along with all these things, when we are changed in the twinkling of an eye at the Lord’s command. I cannot fixate on my marriage or anything I have to exclusion of the love of God because everything except the love of God shall be subsumed. The weight of glory will overwhelm all else.

The reason love can bear and believe and hope is that only love knows what remains. Only love knows the fruitlessness of all effort apart from the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Only love comprehends how futile and petty our fixations and our resentments and our bickerings are. Only love recognizes that Christ shall truly be all in all, and for His sake, love believes and bears everything for the sake of and in view of the Day of the Bridegroom’s returning.

Paul’s words are not saccharine sentiments, tiresomely sweet and unnatural, wrapped in a sickly pink paper packet. His words flow easily and purely from love’s spring. In Christ there is already resurrection and life and perfection. In Christ there is already victory over sin and death, and in Christ death is already mocked. Knowing this, how can care and fixation and bickering and self-aggrandizement consume me? Am I Christ? Am I the firstfruits of them that sleep? No, we are in all things more than conquerors over sin and death and everything else solely through Him Who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

So love can be patient. Love can be kind. Love can believe and bear and hope. Love can wait as long as it has to. Love knows what’s coming and how partial and petty and light this life will prove to be when the weight of glory and the splendor of Christ enter in. Love knows we shall not all sleep but we shall all certainly at long last be changed. Then we shall know all as we are even now fully known by Him. Love knows Him, and love never ends.

Click here for the reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

The parade of the sons of Jesse features names entirely unknown. How many congregants or preachers can rattle off Eliab, Abinadab, or Shammah? No hymnals are named for Shammah. No archeologists search for evidence of King Eliab’s reign. Abinadab might as well be Shimei or Sheba in their obscurity. Yet at one time, even for a second, Samuel could imagine Eliab and Abinadab and Shammah in their turn as the kings of Israel.

And what about the others who passed before him? Their names don’t make the cut. The Lord does not see nor does He plan as man sees and plans. What is likely-looking to us is nothing to Him. David was not present for the parade, and Samuel’s eyes did not pick out the man after God’s own heart. Man could not see what the Lord has in His heart for His people’s salvation.

The bittersweet selection of a fitting king for Israel cannot be forgotten. This reading should not be happening. Israel has no need of a king like the nations. She has her King already with His royal throne of the Ark of the Covenant and His royal law written down by Moses. He already reigns. He is already mighty for His people. He already drives all His enemies before Him. Why then this parade and this anointing?

Was it to magnify the handsomeness of David? But his handsomeness would lead him into trouble with women. Man does not see the heart. What was in David’s heart was the glory and the name of the living God of Israel. His charge against Goliath would be that the Philistine had blasphemed the only living God. God’s honor would be David’s chief concern, and he would not even build a house for the throne of the Lord if God forbade him to do it. If Israel had to have a king, the king whose heart – not his face or his family name or birth position – was after God’s own heart was the one the Lord would choose.

David was anointed to rule but only under the King’s command. What David’s mighty men were to David, David would be to the Lord: loyal in all things, ready to serve his master, ready even to die for his master’s name as the young men risked their lives to get David water. Israel would have a king under the royal Law of God. He would not exalt himself too highly or speak laws in his own name, but he would serve the Lord in the Spirit of the Lord.

David’s Son, the unlikely Shepherd of Israel born in David’s royal city but raised in Nazareth’s obscurity, now reigns. He speaks with authority, not as the scribes, because His royal law of liberty comes forth from His lips with sweetness and power. He does not listen for the instruction of another as Samuel did. He does not wander after the evil desires of his heart as David did with Uriah’s wife. He is Himself the Truth, and the Spirit of the Lord rests upon Him forever. David’s anointed Son reigns as King without end. All will hear of His glorious Name.