Sermon: Blindness for the Glory of God (Luke 18:31-43)

Luke 18.31-43 Audio

Blindness for the Glory of God

Luke 18:31-43

Introduction

The Gospel of Luke is put together in such a way that the narrative is full of theology.  Often the theology comes out as you look forward and look back in the gospel.  Here, we see two contrasts:

First, Luke contrasts the blind man in our text today with the Rich Young Ruler from last week.  The Rich Young Ruler was told to sell all he had and give the money to the poor and follow Jesus.  Luke reports that the RYR went away sad because he was very wealthy.  He could not release his grip on his possessions and follow Christ.  He loved his stuff and he loved his status more than he loved Jesus.

Today, in contrast, we have a blind beggar who was at the very bottom of the social ladder.  He had nothing and had no claim to any social status.  He was extremely poor not extremely rich.  He had nothing that Jesus would say sell it and give to the poor.  He was the poor.  Also, notice as we read our text that this poor beggar upon entering the Kingdom of God through salvation immediately began to follow Jesus.  The RYR was sad and rejected the notion of following Jesus, this man very happy.

Second, is the contrast between the blindness of the Apostles and the insight of the blind man.  It’s very ironic that the man physically blind had a greater insight into the mission of Jesus than His followers had…even His close followers.

As you read the Scriptures never forget to make these connections with other passages in close proximity to the current one you’re studying.

This is God’s Word, hear it!

Luke 18:31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.

33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.

36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.

37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him,

41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

1. Blindness for the Glory of God (Luke 18:31-34)

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.

32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon.

33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.”

34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Luke’s travel log of Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem is reaching its final stages.  Our Lord must get to Jerusalem if the Scriptures are to be fulfilled.  So, He has one focus and that is reaching His destination.

What would happen in Jerusalem?  This question must have been asked over and over.  Why does the Master desire so strongly to get to Jerusalem, what will happen there?

Our Lord knew exactly what awaited Him in Jerusalem.  He knew the time was getting close for the prophecies to be fulfilled.

There are two general categories when it comes to Messianic prophecies.  One category is made up of prophecies of the Messiah’s greatness and majesty.

Psalm 2:7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9 You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

The second category of prophecies concerning the Messiah deal with His suffering and humiliation:

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.

5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.

10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;

13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;

15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet–

17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

All of the suffering Messiah prophecies have been fulfilled and some of the reigning ones also.  But what the disciples confused was both the suffering ones and the reigning ones are true.  They also didn’t understand that Jesus would endure the suffering first and then He would be exalted.

Unless they understood the suffering and the dying prophecies they would never understand the resurrection and reigning prophecies.  Also, if one does not believe the resurrection of Christ most all the Bible becomes impossible to understand.

What was so far removed from their thinking was the great reversal that Luke shows us here.

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is infinitely more exalted than anyone else, would assume the lowest possible role.  Jesus would take on the position of a humiliated lowly criminal on a cross.  He would be crucified.  He would die the death that sinners should have endured.

Why?  So that the lowly and humble in this world would be exalted.  He left heaven and came to earth so that we could escape the snare of sin and be with Him in heaven.  He took our place so we can take His.

The Apostles had too many delusions of grander to ever consider that Jesus came to earth to die for sinners.  They were too busy jockeying for position in this new kingdom to even consider the suffering part.

On the part of our Lord, we must realize that He is getting closer and closer to His suffering and death.  He knows what will happen when the road ends in Jerusalem.  He knows and He is embracing God’s will for Him, even if that will is for Him to die.  How far will Jesus go to rescue His beloved people from sin and glorify His Father?  There is no cost too great.

While Jesus knew what each and every step would bring, His Apostles did not have a hint of an idea what was about to happen.

This would be the third time Jesus would tell them in detail of His eventual suffering and consequent resurrection and still they did not understand.

They didn’t understand because their minds we filled with power and fame.  They didn’t want to understand.  And secondly, they were kept from understanding.

34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

This is very similar to an earlier account in Luke where Jesus told them the future of how He was to die.

44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”

45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Again in this passage, it tells us that the disciples were not dull in understanding.  In fact, later it would be these men who would write much of the NT.  They were kept from understanding.  God didn’t want them to understand…yet.  It was vital for them to hear these words but it would be for the glory of God that they would on a later date understand these words.  There would, however, come a day in which it would click and they would remember their Master’s Words and their faith would be made even stronger.  But for now it wasn’t the right time.

It seems that the key to their understanding that would happen later was the resurrection.  When they saw the risen Lord everything He said made sense.  Their lack of understanding concerning the resurrection was the roadblock in their current understanding.  The Apostle’s blindness had to do, at least in part, to their rejection of the resurrection.

God’s sovereignty and power over men even works at the level of the mind.  God allows us to understand things when the time is right and withholds other things when the time is not right.

His glory was at stake.  Jesus must get to the cross exactly at the right time.  Part of this timing had to do with the Apostles lack of understanding…they were blind for the glory of God.

While their spiritual dullness was accomplishing God’s purposes, it was time for a blind man to see.

2. Seeing for the Glory of God (Luke 18:35-39)

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.

36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.

37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Just as the Lord had darkened the understanding of the Apostles so, in some mysterious way, he had given amazing insight to this blind beggar.  Why was it that some were given dullness and another insight?  Only God knows how He desires to be glorified.

The blind man inquires after hearing the crowd walking by, who it was he was told, it is Jesus of Nazareth.  The title Jesus of Nazareth was not a title of honor.  It was a title to create turmoil.  It was a title to dishonor Jesus…

Jn 1:46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 

This demeaning title would not deter the blind man.  He knew who Jesus was.  He was not blind spiritually.

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Son of David is the title of honor and of Messiah ship.  Somehow he knew these amazing truths concerning Christ.

Even though the crowd tries to get him to stop shouting this messianic title and the request for mercy, he continues all the more and with even more fervency and louder volume.

Two things should come to our minds from Luke 18…

Luke 18:7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily…

18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’…    

But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

He persisted and God the righteous judge vindicated him speedily.  He cried for mercy and was shown mercy. 

3. The Following Christ for the Glory of God (Luke 18:40-43)

40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him,

41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

The blind man cries out over and over again the title for the Messiah, Son of David.  Jesus is identified as the Messiah.  Now this will be the last healing that takes place prior to the cross.  We should ask ourselves, if there is only one more healing, then what should we understand concerning the healing ministry of Jesus.  Could it be that this last healing is a picture of all other healings before?  What does our Lord desire to teach us about Himself here?

All the prior miracles Jesus worked in the sight of many people pointed to what things will be like in the Kingdom of God.  He healed disease and handicaps because in the Kingdom of God there will be no sickness.  He raised people from the dead because in the K of G there will be no death.  He ministered to the poor because in the K of G there will be no poverty.  He also did these things because the OT prophecies predicted the One who carried these miracles out would be the Son of David, Messiah.

Divine blessings came to mankind through Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,

33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”…

52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;

Remember a little later in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus entered the synagogue to officially begin His public ministry?

17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

One prophecy concerning the Messiah was that He would heal the blind and set free the captives and proclaim the good news that God is forgiving repentant sinners.

That is exactly what Jesus Messiah does here.

Our Lord is on His way to the cross and stops at the shouts of a poor blind beggar.  He orders those around him to bring him over.  So, the very people who were rebuking this man for shouting the Davidic title in reference to Jesus get to carry this man over to meet the Son of David.

What did this man want from Jesus?  Was it alms?  Was it to settle some dispute?  Jesus already knew what the man wanted.  Jesus desired to heal the blind man but He also wanted him to speak and tell Him what it was that he wanted.  Our Lord tenderly cared for this man in the midst of the very large crowd…I want to see, was the response.

Compared to the Apostles, this man could, in fact, see.  He had spiritual insight.  He knew who Jesus was perhaps even better than His followers did.  But his desire is to see physically.  So, the Messiah, the One prophesied in Isaiah, would bring sight to the blind and set at liberty the captives and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Jesus, immediately gives this man his request….

18:8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.

At that instant, he was made well or literally made whole again.  Restored inside and out.  His faith in Jesus Christ not only restored sight be cleansed his sin.  This man became a devoted follower of Christ…

43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

This man began to glorify God and the people also glorified God.  God received glory that day because a man was blind.

I’ve often thought about this scene of blind Bartimaeus (as he’s called in Mark’s Gospel).  To be blind and then the first thing you see is Jesus.  Oh what an amazing day that must have been.  A day when one who called out Son of David (Messiah) grant me the mercy that the Messiah is to grant…

he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Because the blind man believed wonderful miracles awaited him.  He believed so strongly that Jesus was the Son of David that even when everyone around him was trying to shush him he yelled all the more.  When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he believed Jesus had the power to heal him.  Jesus saw in this man saving faith and not only cured his eyesight but welcomed him into God’s Kingdom.

Son of David have mercy on me, and Jesus did.

 

 

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