Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Glorious Lord Comes to His Temple --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 19:45-48

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”


And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

(Luke 19:45-48 ESV)


--------------------------------


It is difficult to understand Jesus and his actions apart from the Old Testament. The cleansing of the temple by Jesus, has as its context Malachi 3:1-2:

“And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.”
(Malachi 3:1-2 ESV)
The presence and glory of the Lord had departed from the temple before the Babylonians destroyed it in 586 B.C (Ezekiel 1-2). When the temple was rebuilt when the exiles returned 70 years later, the presence and glory of the Lord never returned to fill the holy of holies as it did in Solomon’s temple. And yet, the post-exile prophets prophesied that the glory of this later temple would exceed the earlier temple. These prophecies found fulfillment when the Son of God came to his temple, fulfilling in himself all that the temple pointed to. When Luke quotes the Lord from Isaiah and says, “My house shall be a house of prayer,” he leaves out the phrase, “for all the nations,” for Jesus is now the house for all people---the place to whom people come to have fellowship and a right relationship with God. Christians now live their lives hidden “in Christ” (Col. 3:1-3).

In the hymn below, the focus is on the holiness and glory of Christ Jesus as King and the line from Malachi 3: “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” All responses to Jesus devolve down to just two as typified by the leaders of the people who were trying to destroy Jesus (v. 47), and the people or catechumens who “were hanging on his words.” This is the attitude all of Jesus’ true disciples should have! May the Lord give us this sort of reverence for the teaching of our Lord, who is holy, glorious, and merciful to all who humble themselves like little children in his presence. May we respond with all our hearts to his great and jealous love that bought us at such a great cost.


See, the King Comes to His Temple

To the tune: STUTTGART Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/stuttgart_witt). Based on Luke 19:45-48. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
See, the King comes to His temple,
full of glory, holy Lord.
From eternity all heaven,
has revered Him and adored.

v. 2
See the brightness of His coming,
holy presence drawing near.
Who can stand before His coming?
Who can stand when He appears?

v. 3
Little children will receive Him,
rich in faith, their King they seek.
Poor in spirit, they believe Him,
hanging on each word He speaks.

v. 4
Though God’s enemies dishonor
His beloved, holy Son,
still all glory, laud and honor
is our Lord’s, the Coming One.

v. 5
See the passion of our Savior,
seeks for worship that is true,
seeks the lost to grant His favor,
seeks with jealous love for you.



































Wednesday, May 16, 2012

See the Love of God for Sinners! --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 19:41-44

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”


(Luke 19:41-44 ESV)

------------------------------

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  (John 14:9). It had to grieve Jesus that after three years, Philip still did not understand the truth that Jesus perfectly reveals and makes known the Father to us. When we see Jesus we see the heart of God.

Therefore, when we see Jesus weeping over an unrepentant and unbelieving Jerusalem, we are given a glimpse into the gracious and loving heart of God, even for rebellious sinners who will have to endure his judgment unless they repent and believe in his Son. For, soon, the Romans would come and destroy this city and people because they did not submit and surrender to Jesus Christ as God’s heaven-sent king. In A.D. 70, the judgment of God fell on the same people that rejected God’s beloved Son, who was sent to make peace through his vicarious sacrifice.

The hymn below is based on the truth that when we see Jesus, we see the Father, for Jesus is the perfect image of God. His heart of love reveals God’s heart of love. His heart that weeps over unrepentant sinners reflects the Father’s heart that also weeps over unbelieving sinners.

What are “the things that make for peace? (v. 41)” The things that make for peace are repentance and faith that receive the Son who visited us from on high (v. 44)---the One the Father sent in his great love.

Jesus weeps over sinners’ rejection of his love, but also over the holy and just judgment that must come upon unrepentant and unbelieving sinners. Later on in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus will say to the women of Jerusalem, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:28-31). This judgment of unrepentant Jerusalem by God is just and holy, and yet the Son of God weeps over his fallen and rebellious world.

If verses 1-4 of the hymn below try to explain how Jesus’ flow of tears reflected the Father’s heart, verse five tries to show how the blood and the water that flowed from Jesus’ side at the cross, even more so, show the love of God for sinners. Verses six and seven continue this theme of the Father’s heart of love shown at the cross---a love to which we must respond in kind.


See the Love of God for Sinners

To the tune: MERTON (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/merton_monk). Based on Luke 19:41-44. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
See the love of God for sinners,
as the tears of Jesus flow.
Hardened hearts what grace they forfeit,
and the way of peace won’t know.

v. 2
See the love of God for sinners,
as the tears of Jesus flow.
God has made a visitation,
but their King they do not know.

v. 3
See the love of God for sinners,
as the tears of Jesus flow.
Weeping o’er the coming judgment
holy justice must bestow.

v. 4
See the love of God for sinners,
as the tears of Jesus flow.
Weeping over unrepentance,
o’er rebellion’s deadly toll.

v. 5
See the love of God for sinners,
see the blood and water flow,
from the side of Jesus pouring,
streams that cleanse all those He knows.

v. 6
See the love of God for sinners
in the Savior He provides.
See He longs to cleanse and pardon,
for His heart is opened wide.

v. 7
Open wide your heart to Jesus,
with His Father be at peace,
for His Son has won our pardon,
from our debts He gives release.





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Most Important Week in History --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 19:28-40

And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’” So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”


(Luke 19:28-40 ESV)

------------------------

Luke’s Gospel has been anticipating this moment for quite some time. In Luke chapter 9 at the transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appear, discussing with Jesus “his departure (or exodus), which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). A bit later in the same chapter we read that “when the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Three times in the journey to Jerusalem, our Lord has prophesied his suffering, death, and resurrection which was to take place in Jerusalem. Jesus came to win for his people forgiveness of sins and the kingdom, and this will all take place now in Jerusalem.

In verse one of the hymn, we sing of the preparations Jesus made for his arrival. Just as he sends his disciples to make preparations for the last supper, so here he sends his disciples to make preparations for his entrance into the city, so important is this moment. In these preparations we see his divine control over all events. He comes into Jerusalem as the king and coming one, but also in meekness, riding on a young colt.

In verse two, we sing of his fulfillment of prophecies in this entrance into the city. Zechariah 9:9 had prophesied:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
(Zechariah 9:9 ESV)
And Genesis 49:11 spoke of one of Judah’s descendents:

Binding his foal to the vine

and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
(Genesis 49:11 ESV)
The emphasis in our passage on the untying or release of the colt, which is set apart for a holy purpose, hints at the ministry his disciples will soon have of releasing men from sin’s burden through the gospel message of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In verse three, we are urged to join Jesus’ disciples, who are singing his praise in words that echo that of the angels in Luke 2:14:

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
(Luke 19:38 ESV)

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:14 ESV)
By his incarnation and his atonement, Jesus brought glory to God in heaven. He also brought peace to both heaven (Luke 19:38) and earth (Luke 2:14) by reconciling God and man. It is for this reason we join our praise to both the angels’ praise in Luke 2 and the disciples’ praise in Luke 19. In a real sense, heaven is joined to earth for those who believe! Heaven is now open for believers as the torn curtain of the temple shows!

Verse four speaks of the two reactions we see in this passage to Jesus. The disciples praise Jesus as their King, even if they are still confused about the cross he must endure before receiving the crown. But the Pharisees continue their opposition to Jesus, refusing to accept him as their prophesied king. Only God’s power and grace can raise us up to the new birth in heaven, replacing our heart of stone with new hearts that believe.

Finally, in verse five our faith breaks out in praise for what Jesus accomplished in this most important week in the history of the world, when our Lord won our forgiveness and earned for us a place in his kingdom. May we too glorify the Father by siding by faith with our King, who has won for us grace and peace---joining heaven and earth for his heaven-born people!


Preparations for the Kingdom

To the tune: REGENT SQUARE (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/regent_square_smart). Based on Luke 19:28-40. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Preparations for the kingdom,
Jesus made for passion week.
Sov’reign Lord o’er all that happens,
yet He comes as One who’s meek.

Refrain:
Jesus glorified His Father,
He brings peace ’tween heav’n and earth.

v. 2
See Him prophecies fulfilling,
riding on a gentle colt.
He’s the Vine whose blood is spilling,
freeing from sin’s awful yoke.
Refrain

v. 3
Join the throng of His disciples,
He’s the King, the Coming One.
Give Him praise for His salvation,
suff’ring, dying, risen Son.
Refrain

v. 4
Though the nat’ral man despises,
Scripture’s witness won’t receive.
Little ones through God enabled,
stony hearts by grace believe.
Refrain

v. 5
Praise the Lord who brings forgiveness,
for His people wins release,
from their bondage and enslavement,
Christ their King has brought them peace.
Refrain

v. 6
Peace has Jesus brought to heaven,
peace has Jesus brought to earth.
Fellowship with God is given
now to men of heav’nly birth.
Refain



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Learning About Jesus' Kingdom --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 19:11-28

As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’”


And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

(Luke 19:11-28 ESV)

----------------------------

In the parable above, the nobleman is Jesus, who in just a short while will return to heaven via his death and resurrection in Jerusalem to receive the kingdom from his heavenly Father. The citizens who hated him and did not want him to reign over them were the Jews, especially the leaders, who violently opposed him and would put him to death in just a few days. The servants who were to engage in business for Jesus in between his receiving the kingdom and his return were his disciples. The mina represents the gospel message. The servants were all faithful, except for one, whom Jesus calls a “wicked servant.”

What this “wicked servant” says about Jesus is completely false. How can anyone possibly think of Jesus as “severe,” when he had given his life to atone for our sins? Jesus is anything but severe, nor is his Father severe, of whom Jesus is a perfect image. Nor was this wicked servant correct in his accusation of Jesus that “you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow,” for the mina/gospel was given as a gift, and the work of regenerating and converting sinners is the work of Jesus through his Spirit. Rightly understood, the disciples can do nothing apart from Jesus, and all they accomplish is done through his working.

In some ways, the first three verses of this hymn refute the false accusations of the wicked servant. In verse one we see the goodness of Jesus as he suffers and dies to make atonement for sinners. In verse two, we see that Jesus is really the one who does the sowing, watering, and reaping in gospel ministry. He is the vine and we are the branches and apart from him we can bear no fruit. Christ is the resurrection power in gospel ministry via his Word and Spirit.

Verse four deals with Jesus’ return and our readiness for his return. Verse five returns to the theme of kingdom. Just as verses 11 and 28, the first and last verses of the text, deal with the journey to Jerusalem, where Jesus will bring about his kingdom through his death and resurrection, so the first, fifth, and sixth verses of the hymn also speak of the kingdom Jesus has earned for us.

This kingdom was brought forth in a way that Jesus’ disciples were not expecting, for it came through suffering, and this was hidden from their eyes. In a similar way, the kingdom of Jesus continues to come in a hidden way today through Word and meal. This kingdom is hidden from the eyes of the world, which does not see the kingship of Jesus, and opposes the gospel through temptation and persecution. Nevertheless, Jesus’ kingdom proceeds in a hidden way as his gospel is preached and his sacraments are administered, and the hidden work of his Spirit works faith in the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.


Jesus Has Received a Kingdom

To the tune: REGENT SQUARE (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/regent_square_smart). Based on Luke 19:11-28. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Jesus has received a kingdom,
raised as King on David’s throne.
He received it from His Father,
though rejected by His own.
On the cross for sinners suffered,
by His death for sin atoned.

v. 2
Good and gracious is our Master,
through His servants fruit He brings.
By His Word and meal He’s working,
as we serve Him as our King.
You who know Him in His mercy,
give your lives---an offering.

v. 3
Jesus will return from heaven
to reward the works of faith.
Works that Christ through them accomplished,
works accomplished through His grace.
Good and gracious is our Sov’reign,
His the glory, His the praise.

v. 4
King and Judge of all the nations,
all before His throne will stand.
For His Father raised to glory,
Jesus, Lord, at His right hand.
On that day will you be ready
to before the Lord to stand?

v. 5
Praise the Lord who brought His kingdom,
through His suff’ring on the cross.
For His death was necessary
to redeem and save the lost.
Precious is Your kingdom, Jesus,
earned for us at highest cost.

v. 6
Hidden to this world the kingdom
of our Lord who is the King.
Sin and unbelief has blinded,
men his glory cannot see.
But his kingdom is advancing,
through his gospel mightily.











Sunday, May 6, 2012

Zacchaeus, the Abrahamic Covenant of Grace, and Household Baptism --- devotion and hymn based on Luke 19:1-10

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”


(Luke 19:1-10 ESV)


------------------------


The Gospel writers sometimes include the names of people who received Jesus’ grace and healing and sometimes they don’t. More than likely, people are mentioned by name when these people whom Jesus touched were still alive and well known in the church. Such people served as witnesses to Jesus, and their eyewitness testimony continued in the church until their deaths. Zacchaeus, whom church history tells us later became the bishop/elder of Caesarea, was one such witness and was well known in the early church. Luke, who was a traveling companion of Paul, probably became acquainted with Zacchaeus when Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea.


In Zacchaeus we see the truth that God can convert even rich people, of whom Jesus had just said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24-25). But God in his power worked grace in the heart of Zacchaeus, making him poor in spirit and like a little child. We see the evidence of God’s working as Zacchaeus runs and climbs a tree to see Jesus, welcomes him with joy into his home, and gives away his wealth --- all evidence of God’s gracious work in his heart.


In the hymn below, the first note sounded is the joy with which Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus (v. 6). We sing praise to the salvation God has accomplished through his Son.


In verse two, the note of human lostness is sounded. Jericho, which is next to the Dead Sea, is the lowest city on the face of the earth, 2500 feet below sea level. This reminds us of the depths to which God descended for our salvation in his love.


In the Zacchaeus account, the word today is used to speak of eschatological salvation. This is the note sounded in verse three. The kingdom has drawn near to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to give us the blessings of his kingdom. He descended to the earth, so that he might lift us to his home in heaven. Christ descended so that we might ascend with him to heaven, and today---right now---this can be a reality in our lives.


Verse four of the hymn sounds the note of Zacchaeus’ entrance into the covenant of grace. When we put our trust in Christ, we enter into the covenant that God made with Abraham (see Galatians 3). We leave the covenant of works (the Mosaic covenant which said, “Do this and you live”) and enter into the covenant of promise (the Abrahamic covenant which says, “Believe this and you will live”). Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector and sinner, was far away from God, but through faith in Christ he was made a son of Abraham. In other words, he was saved and entered into the new covenant of grace.


The last verse of the hymn is trying to show that if Zacchaeus is now saved and in the Abrahamic covenant, then he should give the sign and seal of that covenant to his children, just as Abraham did. It is instructive that Jesus twice uses the word house pointing to the fact that when the head of a household comes to faith, that necessarily brings salvation to the whole house through the biblical principle of representation. When Jesus says, “Today, salvation has come to this house” (notice that he doesn’t say “to Zacchaeus”), he is recognizing the fact that the head of a household represents all the members of that household. Therefore, when Abraham came to faith, all of his household was circumcised, and in a similar way today, all of the children of a believing parent are to be baptized. It is on the basis of this principle of representation that Paul says that the children of believers are considered holy (1 Corinthians 7:14), and it is the reason for the fact that there are five household baptisms mentioned in the New Testament. As Peter said in his Pentecost sermon, “The promise is for you and your children” (Acts 2:39).


Does the baptism of believers’ children bring about conversion? No, it does not (although God can regenerate the heart of an infant as he did with John the Baptist (see Luke 1:15, 41). Nevertheless, the covenant promise belongs to the children of believers, just as it did to Abraham’s children. The sign of the promise has been changed from the bloody sign of circumcision, because Jesus was the heir of the covenant who was circumcised on the cross. Through Jesus’ circumcision believers are washed by his blood, which baptism now symbolizes and promises. Praise Jesus, that despite the objections of our Baptist brothers, his covenant of grace continues to enfold little lambs!


Praise with Joy to God our Father


To the tune: LAUDA ANIMA (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/lauda_anima_goss). Based on Luke 19:1-10. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Praise with joy to God our Father,
our salvation He has planned.
Sent our Lord in great compassion,
Son of God and Son of Man.
Jesus came to seek and save us,
and fulfill the Father’s plan.

v. 2
Lost we were in sin and trespass,
far away from God were we.
But in grace the Son descended,
to the depths of calv’ry’s tree.
O the grace that He has showed us,
and the love beyond degree!

v. 3
Let this grace of God the Father
at the cross of Christ displayed,
lead you to His home in heaven,
for on Christ our sins were laid.
Come today to Jesus risen,
grateful for God’s wondrous grace.

v. 4
Jesus’ presence is salvation,
when He comes with us to stay.
Faith in Him makes us God’s children,
in the covenant of grace.
Imitate the faith of Abr’am,
you will share his bless-ed state.

v. 5
Give the sign and seal of cov’nant,
just as father Abraham.
For to you and to your children
is the promise of I AM.
Hinder not the little children,
they are Jesus’ little lambs.







Tuesday, May 1, 2012

20/20 Spiritual Vision --- devotion and hymn for Luke 18:35-43





















As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 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!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.


(Luke 18:35-43 ESV)

------------------------

This man was causing a scene! When he learns that “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” nothing or no one can shut him up! His constant, loud refrain was, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Luke establishes a contrast between this blind man and the rich man we saw earlier in Luke 18 with the use of the word certain, which the ESV leaves untranslated. Luke 18:18 introduces the rich ruler as “a certain (the Greek word tis) ruler” and introduces the blind man with the same word “a certain (the Greek word tis) blind man.” The contrast between the two is remarkable in terms of spiritual acuity. The rich man fails to see his sin and need, nor the priceless identity of Jesus. But the blind man, though physically blind, has 20/20 spiritual eyesight, for he quickly recognizes Jesus’ identity, and understands that Jesus can meet his need.

When does the blind man begin to make his repeated cries for mercy? It occurs when he hears that “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” The word Nazareth in this passage is not the normal word for Nazareth. Instead, it is a word that has a closer association in sound to the word branch in Greek. More than likely this caused the blind man to remember two related verses from Isaiah:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
(Isaiah 11:1-2 ESV)

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor…
and recovery of sight to the blind;
(Isaiah 61:1 ESV)
Quickly, the blind man sees that Jesus is the branch, the prophesied, Son of David, the Christ who would come from Jesse’s family, which had been cut down at the time of the exile and was still a mere stump at the time of Jesus’ coming. The blind man discerned by faith that Jesus was the Christ, who could meet his need of sight.

In the hymn below, we begin by praising Jesus, who is Lord, and who will answer every cry for mercy and spiritual sight. Verses two and three teach the blinding effects of sin. Sin blinds us to the priceless identity of Jesus and to our sin and need of him.

Verse four is a prayer for mercy and a plea for spiritual sight. Only when we come to see that Jesus meets every need of body and soul have we regained 20/20 spiritual vision. Verse five recognizes that our eyesight is always less now than what it will be when we see him in our resurrected bodies. But if we focus our faith on his truth and grace, even now we may behold his glory (see, e.g., John 1:14).

Verse 6 is drawn from the blind man’s response to Jesus’ mercy. When we receive mercy, we too will begin to follow Jesus on his road back to the Father and his glory via suffering and the cross. Before we enter his glory we too must take up our cross and be willing to suffer with him. But knowing Jesus is worth it, for faith perceives the treasure that Jesus is---a treasure that far outstrips the worldly wealth of poor, blind souls like the rich ruler of Luke 18.


Praise the Lord who Gives us Sight

To the tune: GOTT SEI DANK (http://www.hymnary.org/tune/gott_sei_dank_freylinghausen). Based on Luke 18:35-43. Words: William Weber, 2012.

v. 1
Praise the Lord who gives us sight,
in His mercy giving light.
All who for His mercy cry,
surely Jesus won’t deny.

v. 2
Branch from Jesse’s fallen tree,
Jesus Christ the Nazarene.
Darkened souls they cannot see,
or perceive His majesty.

v. 3
Sin has blinded to perceive:
grace from God our deepest need.
Unbelief it hides from view,
Jesus Christ our Substitute.

v. 4
Son of David, hear our cry,
mercy give in full supply.
Open eyes that we may see,
all our needs You truly meet.

v. 5
On the resurrection day,
we will see His rad-iant face.
But for now we see by faith,
Jesus full of truth and grace.

v. 6
Follow Jesus in the way,
’til you reach the final day.
Raised with Christ, your sight restored,
live for Whom your soul adores.







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