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Home arrow Daniel arrow Luke 18:18-43: Teaching the Blind to Follow
Luke 18:18-43: Teaching the Blind to Follow Print E-mail
Luke
Sunday, 15 September 2013

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How would you respond if someone asked you: ‘What does it mean to be a Christian?’  Hopefully you would talk about repenting of your sins and trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection.  You might also talk about reading your bible, spending time in prayer, and going to Church.  You could also mention serving the poor and caring for those in need.  A good way to sum all of this up is by simply noting that Christians are people who follow Christ.  We turn from our sins, trust in His work, and follow hard after Him.  Christians are followers of Jesus.

Yet, what does that look like?  As we have noted, over the last few chapters Jesus has been instructing the disciples on what it means to follow Him.  We continue to see Him teaching them about what that looks like in our passage this morning.  In one sense, all of the people that Jesus interacts with in this passage are blind.  They all need new eyes to see.  They each have different issues that are blinding them and Jesus addresses them all.  From what He does, we learn three more important lessons about following Him.

First, we must value Him above all else (v. 18-30)

We have repeatedly seen how money can be an obstacle to following Jesus.  He has taught us to use our resources to be rich toward God (12:13-21) and that you cannot serve God and money (16:10-13).  In our passage this morning, we see the hindrance of money again.  The story begins with a rich man coming to ask Jesus about eternal life.  Look at verse 18.  Notice how the question is framed: what must I do to inherit eternal life?  He wants to know what he has to do to earn eternal life.  Jesus responds first to what the man called Him.  Look at verse 19.  It seems the rich man was trying to flatter Jesus by calling Him ‘good teacher.’  Jesus wants to get to the heart of the matter.  He does not need flattery.  Of course, there is more to this statement as well.  Jesus tells the rich man that only God is good.  The rich man might just be calling Jesus good in order to flatter Him, but Jesus makes the point through implication that those who really know Him would call Him good because He is God in the flesh.  He is indeed ‘good.’

In verses 20-21, Jesus addresses the rich man’s question.  Look at what He says.  Since the rich man wanted to ‘do’ something to earn eternal life, Jesus points Him to keeping the Law.  He mentions a few of the 10 commandments and the rich man quickly replies that he has kept them all.  The problem is that the rich man does not seem to understand what Jesus is saying.  He is not saying have you kept them some or even faithfully, Jesus is asking: ‘Have you kept them perfectly?’  To drive this point home and show the rich man his problem, Jesus gives him further instruction in verses 22-23.  Jesus tells him to give his money to the poor and to follow Him.  Yet, the rich man refuses.  What was it that was keeping the rich man from having eternal life?  He might have kept some of the commands, but he did not love God more than his money.  In fact, his god was his money.  He broke the first command of having no other gods before the true and only God.  His riches had blinded him to his own idolatry and seemingly cost him eternal life.  He chose money instead of God and that cost him everything.

Jesus goes on and makes a final comment to the man.  Look at verses 24-25.  Once again, Jesus makes it plain that the love of money is dangerous and costly.  It is difficult for the rich to worship God alone.  Such a statement would have been shocking to the disciples and the first century Jews because they saw a connection between riches and God’s blessings.  They assumed that the rich were the best candidates to be in the Kingdom.  Thus, what Jesus says causes them to ask an obvious question.  Look at verses 26-27.  If the rich cannot be saved, who can be saved?  Jesus tells them: What is impossible with men is possible with God.  The rich cannot see that their idolatry of money is keeping them from entering the Kingdom.  But God can show them.  He can open their eyes to see the value of following Christ no matter the cost.  The disciples want to know if they have sacrificed enough, so they ask Jesus.

Look at verses 28-30.  As we have seen, the disciples left all to follow Christ.  They left behind their homes and families.  Was such sacrifice enough?  Jesus encourages them by telling them even their sacrifices are not really sacrifices.  If we give up family in this life, we will receive the family of God.  If we give up our homes, we will receive a new place in the community of faith.  This has been true in our lives.  Let me give you an example.  A week or so ago, they had grandparents day at the Kindergarten center.  We were sad for Isaiah because none of his grandparents were able to come.  Yet, the Lord provided through His family.  Joyce and Maurice graciously came as Isaiah’s grandparents.  The Lord provides in this life and through Christ He will provide in the life to come.  Coming back to what the rich man asked about, Jesus tells us that we will have eternal life through following Him.  So then, if we are going to be true followers of Christ, then we must value Him above all.

Second, we must understand the role of suffering (v. 31-34)

Once again Jesus tells the disciples about His future suffering.  Look at verses 31-33.  Jesus is going to Jerusalem to die.  He knows this.  He has known this from the very first step.  What will take place there will be the fulfillment of all that the prophets have written about the Son of Man.  What does He say will happen?  He will be delivered over to the Gentiles, the Romans.  They will mock Him and spit on Him.  After they flog Him, which itself brings terrible physical suffering, they will kill Him.  The Son of Man will be killed in Jerusalem by the Gentiles.  Yet, this will not be the end, for on the third day he will rise.  He will come back from the dead.

The disciples could not comprehend such a path for Jesus, much less the Son of Man written about in the prophets.  Thus Luke tells us in verse 34 that they did not understand what Jesus was telling them.  Look at that verse with me.  They had no category for a suffering Savior.  If Jesus was truly the Son of Man, then how could He be killed by the Gentiles?  They did not yet understand His mission.  He had come to defeat sin, Satan, and death.  And to do that, He had to suffer at the hands of the Romans and die naked on a tree.  Worse than this, He had to drink down the wrath of His own Father against our sin.  At this point, the disciples did not understand this.  Yet, they would. 

They would come to see the glory in the work of Christ.  They would come to understand what He came to do.  They would understand the role of suffering in following Christ.  And they would embrace it.  The book of Acts reveals their willingness to suffer for Christ.  Just like their Savior, they would give their lives for the gospel.  They may have been blind to it at this point, but their eyes would be opened when they beheld the Son of Man dying on a cross for their sins.  And His death and resurrection would give them a vision for the rest of their lives.  Is that true of you?  Do you understand the role of suffering in following Christ?  Have you embraced it to follow after your Savior, no matter how difficult?

Third, we must believe He can do the impossible (v. 35-43)

Before Jesus makes it to Jerusalem, as He is approaching the city of Jericho, Luke tells us about a blind man.  Look at verses 35-39.  This man was blind and begging.  When he is told that Jesus is drawing near he begins to cry out to him: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!  And even though the crowds around him told to him to be quiet, he just kept screaming: Son of David, have mercy on me!  There are times in life when we need to realize just how desperate we are.  It is not time for polite contemplation or reasoned reflection, it is time to scream at the top of your lungs: ‘O Jesus, have mercy on me!’  John Mark McMillan has a song called ‘Closer’ and at the end of the song he screams out: “Son of David, don’t pass me by/Cause I am naked, I’m poor and I’m blind.” It powerfully captures the desperation of this moment.   And the amazing good news?  Jesus delights in showing mercy to the needy.  Look at verses 40-43.  With a word, Jesus changes this man’s life.  There he is, broken and begging on the side of the road one minute, and the next staring into the face of God in the flesh.  How amazing is that?  Immediately the man began to follow after Jesus and glorify God.  On this day, it seems the blind man saw more clearly than all the others.

You may not realize it this morning, but we are all born blind.  We are all broken down and desperate on the side of the road.  We may be like the rich young ruler with our money and our morals or we may be in a ditch as low as we can go, but either way, we need the mercy of the Son of Man.  We need Him to open our eyes to see.  We need Him to show us what really matters, what really has value.  We need Him to help us understand the role of suffering in following Him.  We need Him to help us believe that He in fact can do the impossible.  He can fit camels through the eye of a needle and give sight to the blind.  He can take sinners and tax collectors and rich men and poor men and make them a part of the Kingdom of God.

How do I know?  To borrow an old line, I know because the Bible tells me so.  Over and over again Jesus shows mercy to the helpless and hopeless and invites them to be His followers.  And I know it because the Bible tells me that His prediction about His suffering came true.  He really did go to Jerusalem.  He really was handed over to the Gentiles.  They really did beat Him and mock Him and spit upon Him.  And they really did kill Him on a tree.  He really did suffer and die.  But just like He said, He really did rise on the third day.  The grave could not hold Him.  All Hell could not keep Him in that tomb.  And when He rose victorious, He had done the impossible.  He had made a way for a wicked, money-loving, self-serving, sinner like me to be redeemed.  I am the rich young ruler.  I am the confused disciples.  I am the blind man on the side of the road.  And Jesus, through His death on the cross, has made me His follower.  By His grace, He has made all of those who turn from their sins and believe in Him His followers. 

So then, let’s follow hard after our Savior.  We know that He is more valuable than all the money in the world, so let’s use everything we have to bring Him glory.  We know that we will only enter the Kingdom through much suffering, so let’s embrace whatever difficulty we must face, knowing that our Savior has faced far worse for us.  And we know that He can do the impossible.  He can heal the blind and raise the dead.  He can take sinners and make them His own.  So then, let’s preach the Word with boldness and confidence.  Let’s follow after Him faithfully, knowing that He will see us through.  Amen.

1 John Mark McMillan, “Closer” on the album The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 October 2013 )

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