Grace to you and Peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus.
“And Jesus turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you, many prophets and kings wished to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.””
This is Your Word, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the Truth. Your Word is Truth. Amen.
Fellow redeemed: Many prophets and kings wished to see what the disciples were seeing, as Jesus turned to them and spoke privately.
What were they seeing? Jesus was speaking with them privately. He had just turned to them. They were looking at Him. Many prophets and kings had wished to see Jesus. Of course prophets wanted to see Him. Jesus is the One they were prophesying of, all those years! And the life of a prophet oftentimes was not filled with good things to see. One prophet had to be sustained by ravens bringing him food. Another kept himself from starving by eating locusts. So, yeah, you might think, no big deal, of course the prophets wanted to see Jesus. But what about the kings? Why had many kings longed to see Jesus? Kings have most everything a man could want. It sort of goes with the job, doesn’t it?
Why did many kings long to see Jesus? What did He bring that they didn’t already have? Think about it— where were all these kings as Jesus spoke to the Twelve? Where were the Davids and Solomons and all that lot? For all their power and great wealth, the kings who had so desired to see Jesus were long dead, weren’t they? Jesus was born in the royal line of Israel, descended, according to His humanity from no less than David, that great king who had reigned over nine centuries before Jesus’ birth.
All the power and might, wealth and fame of all the great kings in the end came to what? Vanity, vanity, saith the preacher, wise Solomon wrote. All their stuff could not prevent those valiant men of ancient days from returning to the dust from which all men are made. They were gone to ground, and nothing could save them.
Prophet or king, highborn or lowly, rich or poverty stricken, all men die. And you know what the man who realizes this really, really wants to see? He wants to see the One who is mightier than death itself. He longs to see the One who, promise of old, is mightier, even, than the death which already is claiming you. He desires the One who takes the death of all mankind onto Himself, with all our guilt, with all our shame, with all our hurt, with all our sin, takes it on Himself, and undoes it, destroys it, reigns rampant over it, descends right into the bowels of hell and damnation for us and smashes it forevermore. And takes us from its cruel grip, breaks the chains of sin and death which drag us down, and gives us life such as no man could even dare to dream— life without death forever. Life without tears forever. Life without loss forevermore.
That’s what prophets and kings and you and me (if we have any wisdom at all), that’s what we long to see. They would see Jesus.
Death makes life a cruel joke. You have spent your whole life knowing suffering and loss. Even your borning moment was defined by pain, and danger. We speak of childhood diseases as though that was normal. Normal? The fevers and assaults of things trying to turn our guts to jelly, leaving us scarred and our parents sleeplessly anxious for the moment to pass, that we might recover? Recover, but left weak and sweating, stinking, and pale, and knowing there’s going to be a next time, and after that, another thing. And that is how we have gone through life, enduring one assault after another. Death never so far away that we cannot catch the stink of it.
Not even the high and mighty, the kings of our age can escape the marks of death. A billionaire who speaks whatever’s on his mind, before whom nearly everything seems to yield, declares he’s going to be our next president. He might just do that. But his baldness is a badly combed-over, open secret. Death in a million little ways can already be seen flicking away at him, just like the rest of us little and mighty alike. None shall escape. All are brought down to the grave. It does not matter how grand a tomb you make, even a wonder of the world tomb still contains nothing but the rotted corpse of one who could not stand.
Sin waylays us all, and it assaults us on our way through life. Sooner or later it has its way with every one of us. The sting of sin is death. And it steals everything, and it leaves us beside life’s road for dead. And you are helpless to stop it.
Fine and good men pass by, but they cannot do a thing to help. In fact, they fear your uncleanness. And who can blame them?, for they are just as weak as you are. Sin takes you down, and shamefully strips you bare for all to see. And there’s none to do a thing about it.
But for us comes the Valiant One, Whom God Himself elected. Who is This? To the eyes of the world, He appeared nothing special. Indeed, He was despised and rejected. But This One came down life’s way, and has beheld your lost condition. Though better looking candidates prove time and again useless, helpless, and afraid of sin’s sting of death upon you, this One has found you, and He has come down to you, setting aside His right, His dignity, His glory, and He had knelt beside you, here in the dirt and filth of sin and death. He alone has been unafraid to get that stench and grime on Him. He comes to you with His good Gifts to heal you. He has washed you clean in His watery Word in which you have been Baptized. He has laid the healing unction of His Good Spirit on you, to revive you, and raised you up already in a new life. The sting which has plagued you lessens. Sin has got all over Him, your Good Savior who tends to you.
Jesus is the Good Samaritan, you see. And you are the one waylaid, robbed, left for dead. He has come to you, taken your sin, your death onto Himself, lifted you above Himself, as He has bourn the full weight of your sin and death in your place. Jesus has given you His Word, His Spirit, His Grace that you might not be dying any more, but be living.
Now, for this little while you yet hurt. Your suffering is abated, but you do still suffer. But Jesus has delivered you to this inn—the Church— entrusting you to the ministering care of His Word and Sacrament, so that by these two coins you are to be strengthened, renewed, and kept, till He returns.
And should we fellow redeemed suffer loss and pain even as we receive the Means of Grace? If we should even suffer and die? Know this dear one, Jesus, your Good Samaritan promises: “I will repay you when I come back.” Though we suffer loss and pain, though we grieve the death of our beloved, yet, we no longer grieve as other men do, who have no hope.
Jesus is returning. Of this we have confidence, for He has promised it, and Jesus always keeps His promises.
Now, for this little while, we sojourn on, here in the inn of His Church, and we serve one another, and we practice the kindness toward our neighbor, even the least and lowliest, which Jesus has shown us. We love the Lord our God, for He first has loved us, and given Himself, even suffering our death and pain in our place under the burden of sin. So we love Him, and in loving gratitude, we show kindness, and, insofar as we are able, we bear one another’s burdens, and we show kindness and hospitality toward our neighbor. And we live in the well founded hope, and the wondrous, surprising joy, which is borne up in us by our Lord’s Word, His promise, His love in which we now may love one another, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Our Good Samaritan, Jesus, is delivering us to His most wondrous Home. Your sin is forgiven. You are at peace with God. Live in His love, live as forgiven, live at peace toward Him, and toward all around you.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.