Why Would God Blind Them as to who Jesus Was?
(in order to make sense of the sermon, I have included the beginning of our service – the processional readings for Palm and Passion Sunday. THere is something about crying in one breath “Hossanna ! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and in the next, “Crucify Him!” That tension, that uncomfortable gut wrenching realization that we would have cried out as they did…. is something we should experience, and oddly enough, where we find God’s greatest glory revealed. DTP )
pastor: “In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit!” Cogregation: Amen!
Verses for Procession for Palm Sunday Matthew 21:1–9
pastor: “When they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, congregation: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” pastor : 6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, congregation “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Processional Hymn All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name/Our God Reigns
pastor : (Later that Week) 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?” The crowd shouted back, congregation: “Barabbas! pastor:late Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” They shouted back, congregation: “Crucify him!” pastor ““Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?” But the mob roared even louder, congregation: “Crucify him!” pastor: Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” 25 And all the people yelled back, congregation “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
Confession and Absolution
(we then proceeded into a time of confession our sins, and hearing the incredible words, that because of Christ, they are forgiven….It it with that context that the following sermon is delviered)
Why Would God Blind their Eyes?
Because Jesus Christ Had to Die…For Us
T In Jesus Name T
May You Grow in Awareness of what is yours as you walk in Christ, the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father. AMEN.
I don’t get it….
I usually love the mysteries of scripture, the things we call paradoxes. They are glorious, mystical things that cause our minds to eventually give up, and stand there, in awe of God’s wisdom and glory.
The mystery that is the Trinity, the paradox of Jesus being 100% God and yet 100% man. The mystery that we will celebrate as we take and eat the Body of Christ, in and under the bread; and drink the blood of Christ in and under the wine. I could go on and talk of how we are simultaneously sinners and yet righteous, or the mystery of our being Born Again, as God’s pours water over us, and replaces our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh….
There are other things, not quite to the level of these glorious mysteries, but still puzzling, and it takes a little to work them out. Things in scripture that just don’t make sense at first glance. We have to struggle with them, to understand how what it teaches makes sense, considering what we know about God.
Such is found in verse 40 of the gospel reading. (Click)
40 “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts— so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” John 12:40 (NLT)
Does this sound like the action of the God we know, who loves us, and desires that none should perish, but that all would come to everlasting life? That He would intentionally blind someone, that they couldn’t see His glory, that he would harden their hearts so that they couldn’t understand? Why would He stop them from turning to Him? Why wouldn’t He heal them?
Is this the God of love that we adore? (Click) Or are we missing something? Why would God blind their eyes?
The Mission: Bring Glory to the Father’s Name
As the gospel reading opened, just prior to the Triumphal Entry, the Great procession into Jerusalem we see something that we need to understand. Before Jesus enters Jerusalem, before the cries change from Hosanna to Crucify Him, Jesus will hear that the world has come, and has wanted to meet with Him.
A few Greeks have come to Jerusalem, and desire to meet jesus.
Think back to last week, when Caiaphas prophesied that it would be better for one Man to die, that the people of God would live. John’s gospel said – it wasn’t just for one nation, but looking to the Old Testament prophecies, that people from every nation would be saved when One Man died. Then there is this, from the dedication of the temple…
41 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands because of your name, 42 for they will hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 43 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. 1 Kings 8:41-43 (NLT)
That day has come, as men come from distant lands to pray, and they will soon know the glorious answer to their prayers – that God is listening. The time when Christ is to die, though they don’t get that yet. He points is out in places like verse 23-24 (click)
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. John 12:23-24 (NLT)
In this, Jesus unites His glory to His death, the death where He is planted, but that very death provides a plentiful harvest and lives that are full of His love. That seems odd as well, for how is the death of a man, especially the torture and death that Jesus faced, something that would be glorious? Jesus will make the point again a moment later, (click)
32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” John 12:32 (NLT)
That word “lifted” up, is more often used in the sense of our phrase – “putting up on a pedestal”. To honor and cherish and praise the one lifted up, yet the crowd understood this meant he would be crucified? (click) Glorified or Crucified? (click) Or could it be both? (click)
The Challenge – Would We Cry to Crucify Christ?
Could lifting up Christ refer to Christ being glorified, to the Father’s name being praised, and to the crucifixion of Jesus?
It does – and that is why God would blind the people of Israel, and harden their hearts. Because Jesus needed to die for them, for us. It is here where we find our answer to the original question: (CLICK)
“Why would God Blind their eyes?” Because otherwise, as the other reading says, they wouldn’t crucify the Lord of Glory.
How many of you this morning, were comfortable saying the words the crowds cried on Good Friday? How many felt odd crying “Crucify Him!”? We struggle with the idea, and we weren’t even there in the courtyard. How could we cry out crucify jesus? The Son of God?
How many did felt a lump in their throat, or hesitated? How dare we call for His death, even to save us from our sins?
I think that is what makes it hard – knowing that it was our sins that put Him there. How many of us, considering our sin, our failures, our shame and guilt, would even ask Jesus to pay for those sins? Demand it? Yell it til Pilate submits?
Yet that moment, when what the crowds’ two cries are fulfilled simultaneously, when the Messiah, the Son of David comes and saves us, as His is nailed to the cross, that moment as He says, It is finished; that moment is glorious.
It is the moment we are delivered, the moment we find ourselves freed from sin, from all unrighteousness, the moment our eyes are opened, our stone hearts are replaced with hearts of flesh. That moment – when the crowds cries – Hosanna and Crucify Him are fulfilled… that moment is glorious.
As Christ dies, for us.
That’s the Moment the Father is Praised and Glorified for… Odd isn’t it?
If they weren’t blinded, if they hearts weren’t hardened, they wouldn’t have killed the Lord of Glory, They had already tried to make Him king, they wanted Him to free them, but they had no clue the kind of Kingdom He came to deliver.
I am not sure we get it all the time either…. It is too glorious, too incredible, more wonderful than anything we’ve ever seen, or heard, or even imagined
For It is at that moment, as we see Jesus, on the cross, beaten and brutalized that we realize the depth of God’s love for us, and we praise God, we glorify Him, we are in awe..
God loves us that much?
Yes, you and I.
Think about it for another moment…..
Imagine now crying out “crucify him,” understanding His love, His compassion, and His joy that drives Him to that cross……
to save you.
And the world.
May knowing the depth of Christ’s love for you, of the Father’s desire to make you His children, instill in you His peace, the peace of God which passes all understanding, and guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN.
Posted on April 14, 2014, in Sermons and tagged guilt, Love of Christ, Palm Sunday, paradox, shame, Sunday of the Passion, the cross, the Crucifixion, Will of God. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.