Luke 18:31-45 “See”
I want to refer to the title of the sermon to start. It is simply “see.” This is the commandment that Jesus gives to his disciples as they are on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. They are simply to SEE.
In a way this commandment is too easy. It suggests that we need only open our eyes, Lord, as the familiar hymn is sung. Really Jesus is asking them to see the road ahead of them, even the parts that are in the moment unseen. WE might want to say that Jesus is asking them to “foresee,” not just “see.”
On the road to Jerusalem from Jericho, the Roman occupiers of Palestine, realizing that this was the main road in from the east where the rebels against the Empire were gathering, had crosses set up about every Roman mile. On those crosses were the rotting bodies of anyone that was a criminal against the state. One did not have to really “foresee” as much as simple see the crucifixion happening as one traversed this route to the Holy City.
So, the sermon title is “SEE” as Jesus himself commanded to his people. I like the fact that it is also the word in Spanish and Italian for “YES,” “Si!” The newest album by my favorite tenor Andrea Bocelli is simply entitled “Si.” Yes, Jesus is going to be crucified, be dead for three days, then arise again. Yes! Si!
So, this commandment to see, does include the concept of foresight as well as simply seeing. See what is happening around you, and you should know what is coming down the road.
Some of the car manufacturers today are offering cars that can see. The Japanese car manufacturer Subaru calls its new seeing system “Eyesight.” Yes, now we can buy a Subaru with standard “Eyesight.” Our machines can see! If the car sees another vehicle hitting the brakes in front of you, the car will automatically apply the brakes faster than your own foot can reach the pedal. If you try to open your door into oncoming traffic, the car will lock the door so that cannot not happen.
However, I want a car with foresight, not just eyesight. I want the car to tell me that my driving all the way out to Lihue to go to the store is an utter waste of time because the store will not have what I need in the first place. I want the car to tell me that the road is closed to the airport, and I am going to miss the flight anyway! That is foresight. I tell you, I will buy THAT car when it is on market.
Think about this: Two weeks ago I had my toolkit with screwdrivers, hammer, and the like in the living room where I was working. I was going to drive out to Lihue to the Regency at Puakea to do the bible study there. Before I went, I put the toolkit back into the church van. I do not like driving anywhere without my tools handy. When I got to Lihue, the window regulator on the driver’s side stopped working, and the window was in the down position. I could not close the window. Rain clouds were gathering overhead. What was I supposed to do?
I had my tools in the back. I quickly opened up the door panel, pushed the glass back up and held it in place with the hammer from the tool kit jammed into the door in just the right position. I was on the road again. Next stop, the auto parts store. Eventually I drove back to Waimea and had the window working again that evening. That is foresight. Keeping the tools in the church van is foresight. One day, your whole world may hinge on a Phillips head screwdriver!
This last week I wish I had had better foresight with one particular situation: Something really evil and spooky happened on Halloween. After school at the Education Center, one boy along with his crew came to the gym in order to pick a fight with another boy. The other boy was playing basketball with his friends when the confrontation began. By the time I got up and moved in between, the foul language was already flying, and I could sense male bravado in the one challenger going through the roof.
I told him to watch his language and that it was time for him to leave and take his crew with him. At first he hesitated and tried to stare me down. I made the motion with my hands for him to move away. He backed down finally and went across the street and lit a cigarette. One of his crew came back a few minutes later to ask me when the gym would be closing. I did not tell him, thinking that they were waiting still to beat up the one boy. The whole crew finally left the street and went off.
At about 3:30pm, the boys who had been playing basketball left—most likely to catch the bus. As they were leaving, I told them all to “be safe.” I could tell that they caught my meaning that they should avoid the other kids.
As I locked up the gym and started walking back up to the house, I saw two police cruisers heading down the street at full speed with their lights and sirens. I immediately thought “there must be a fight.”
The next day it was confirmed that indeed the fight had taken place right in front of Big Save. I thought to myself then that I had lacked in foresight. I should have offered to go get the church van and drive the kids home. I should have walked with them to the bus stop.
There is so much evil in our everyday lives that in fact Halloween becomes completely meaningless. I just think about the horror that some of our youth face everyday because of their simply going to school. I think of the horror in our families because of abuse and violence. I think of the violence that minorities face everyday in our country.
See, Jesus himself was not immune from the violence. He is there pointing out that violence to his Disciples. He commands us to SEE. God himself will fall victim to it. Have some foresight! The road to Jerusalem will lead to the horrific death of our Lord.
Of course, Jesus also foresees the Resurrection. This is hidden from the disciples. Conversely, it seems that it is not hidden from a blind beggar on the side of the road. HE has no eyesight, but he has the most foresight of anyone on that road that day. He knows immediately who Jesus is when the people tell him that it is Jesus of Nazareth. The blind man shouts out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Jesus approaches him despite the crowd trying to shut him up. Jesus asks what he would like. The blind man states he wants his eyesight again. Jesus already knows this of course. The man is instantly healed. Jesus states, however, that it is this blind man’s faith that has saved him. Not only can he see again, but he receives eternal salvation. The bible tells us that at that point the previously blind man is invited to follow Jesus, and he does.
Now, after seeing Jesus, what is the next thing that this previously blind man sees? He sees the crucifixions on the road leading up to Jerusalem. Christian tradition has it that this previously blind man will witness Jesus being beaten. He witnesses the road to Golgotha with Jesus bearing the cross. He witnesses the crucifixion itself. And, he witnesses the glorious Resurrection.
I did not mention this before, but this blind man is named in Mark 10:46-52. His name is Bartimaeus. Since we have his name, we know that he was well known to the early church. His testimony about Jesus was well known!
This once blind man has already foreseen this! How do we know this for sure? Look at what Jesus says in verse 31, “See. . . .everything that is written about the Son of Man will be accomplished.” This is a reference to all what the prophets of old have foreseen about the coming of the Messiah. Let us check out Isaiah 52:13 to the end of 53. This is known as the “Suffering Servant’s Song.” “See, my servant shall prosper. . .he shall startle many nations. . . .kings shall shut their mouths because of him. . . .he was despised and rejected. …surely he has borne our iniquities. . . .he was wounded for our transgressions. . . .it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. .. .make his life an offering for sin. . . .he poured out himself to death. . . .he bore the sin of many and made intercession. . . .”
The blind man cries out when he hears that it is Jesus of Nazareth with the term “Son of David!” This is a unique term that hearkens back to the time of early prophets such as Isaiah. Bartimaeus uses this most prophetic term! Jesus is the foreseen prophetic vision of the coming Messiah. When this term is shouted out, we might as well hear “this is the one who has been foreseen.” The blind man has seen Jesus through the ancient prophecies.
What did Jesus tell him? “See and be saved.” That was the command. That is what we must still do today.