Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blind Men, Beggars, Preaching and Those Who are Sent

This morning I was on my way to church with the kids and was listening to the local Roman Catholic radio station (I've taken it on the chin on The Unknown Lutheran blog and back in the Beggars All days for my EWTN obsession - I know the fact that it beats the heck out of Joel Osteen, Robert Schuler and D. James Kennedy is no excuse - and when I hit the lotto there will be a Lutheran nationally broadcast radio and television network.).

A priest from Africa was preaching on Luke 19 (Zacchaeus and the sycamore tree) and was doing an admirable job of preaching the Gospel text - he emphasized what Jesus did in coming to Zacchaeus' house. Somehow he went outside of the gospel for the day and talked about the beggar mentioned in Luke 18:

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"

"Lord, I want to see," he replied.
Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

The priest followed up with these words, "We too must ask Jesus to heal our blindness and the blindness of others."

I started praying for a friend of mine, who simply fails to see that he needs to return to the Church. I prayed, "Lord, please help my friend to see." And something odd happened, my mind went to the following bible verse in Romans 10 - and it was odd, it was almost as if someone else was speaking to me.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

My friend certainly believed at one time. He is baptized. He went to Lutheran school. I have told him that he needs to return to the Church and I have told him why he needs to return. He is however blind and cannot see his need. He also doesn't realize that he is a beggar.

And I started thinking, could it be that my "preaching" to this man is in vain, because I am not sent? Or maybe he is so blind that the only way he will realize that he is a beggar and blind would be to bring him to where Jesus is walking by? How am I going to get him there? How I am going to get him to the place where I know that a man sent by Jesus is? Or maybe when I told him that he needed Jesus, did I do it all wrong?

After all of these mental gymnastics, I could only return to the fact that I was blind and still only see through the glass dimly. I am a beggar but, I have much to rejoice in, just as the man Jesus healed in Luke 18. I was only 1 mile from where I would soon meet Jesus in the words of Absolution, in the preaching of the Gospel and in the Sacrament of the Altar.

In the end, I can only tell the blind that they are blind. I can only tell the beggars I know where Jesus will be passing by. And I should continue to rejoice in the healing our Saviour has given me.

And those who are sent will continue to make sure that Jesus passes by, by the command and in the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ. This our Lord has promised until the end of time.

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