S-1024 3/02/08 4SIL 3/A. Hymns: (O)#; (S)#; (C) #
Texts: Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Theme: “See No Evil” (Is. 42:17).
Armour, SD. SOLI DEO GLORIA
Faithful followers of the Savior, the text for this 4th Sunday in Lent is from the O.T. Prophet Isaiah “They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, ‘You are our gods’” (Isaiah 42:17).
Saints in Christ perhaps you have seen this picture, three little monkeys, sitting in a row. One has his hands over his eyes, so he cannot see. One has his hands over his ears, so he cannot hear. And the third has his hands over his mouth, so he cannot speak. And they are sitting on a battlefield.
There is a war going on around us every day – a war for our souls and the souls of our children and grandchildren. It is not a war that is fought with bombs and bullets, but a war fought with weapons of the spirit. It is a war between good and evil, and God and Satan. As in any war, there are casualties, soldiers who die for their cause and soldiers who live to tell about it
Yet this war is unlike any other:
Scripture is clear regarding this war. There are no neutral forces – you are either on the side of JESUS CHRIST AS LORD. Or you belong to Satan and the forces of darkness. All of the other “gods and powers” of this world are simply masks for a single enemy – the Devil. No one “chooses” sides – you begin life as an enemy of God, and by His grace and power He converts you to His side. By the Holy Spirit we have been changed from the hated enemy to the beloved allies.
And now the enemies of Jesus Christ come seeking to claim us and win us over to the other side again. They want to steal back our souls. The war is real – it rages around us every day. Yet all too often we sit around in lines like those three monkeys, waiting to be destroyed and fooling ourselves into thinking that if we “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil” then the evil isn’t real. It doesn’t affect us at all, and we bury our heads in the sand. The three monkeys remind us of the text for today from the prophet Isaiah.
They shall be turned back, They shall be greatly ashamed, Who trust in carved images, Who say to the molded images, ‘You are our gods.’ “Hear, you deaf; And look, you blind, that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, Or deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is blind as he who is perfect, And blind as the LORD’s servant? Seeing many things, but you do not observe; Opening the ears, but he does not hear.”
“See no evil…”
What a tragic fate awaits this monkey. He covers his eyes so that he will not see, and so he remains in darkness. By doing so, he blinds himself to the evil of this world and protects himself from fear. But at the same, he also blinds himself to the saving light of Christ, and in the end will be destroyed.
Many in our world are blinded by the deceptive light of the devil. There are so many who refuse to see the evil going on in the world and shut their hearts to the goodness of God. Many don’t see the decline into destruction. Blind to the evils of our culture – not seeing the decline in truth and morality for the evil that it is–ignoring and even denying the danger that it poses to our immortal souls. They say, Get with the program, we are living in the 21st century.
The Good News is that Jesus gives sight to the blind. This is demonstrated in the Gospel reading today. Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man physically and spiritually. However, if they cover their eyes they will not see their course of destruction. As Jesus said to His disciples that night in the Garden, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38)
“Hear no evil…”
This monkey too is in terrible danger. His eyes can see the evil around him, but he allows himself to be caught up in the illusions and trickery of the Devil. He covers his ears to the truth of evil, and therefore is unable to properly understand the visions that dance before his eyes. He sees it coming, but cannot understand the danger. There are so many people in our world like this monkey. They allow themselves to see the evils of the world but fail to hear the Word of God and come to understanding. They abstain from God’s house where the Word is spoken and become entangled in the seductive words of the devil.
Only the truth of God’s Word as taught by the Holy Spirit can help us to see and hear and know the will of the devil—to destroy us. In this world, people call evil good and good evil. They are theologians of glory. In this, they seek their own glory at the expense of God and their own souls.
How sad that in our world, the devil has blinded us to the truth. For many see it as evil to call sin a sin, and to call sinners to repentance, and it is called good to be tolerant of sin and evil and not to intrude upon another person’s business. Yet, ONLY the Word of God can truly define what is good and evil. And if we choose to close our ears to that Word we become deaf to the truth and fall prey to the devil and his cohorts.
“Speak no evil…”
This is the saddest monkey of all. This is the monkey we are most tempted to be. For speaking evil, he says nothing. Mouth covered, he remains silent. He can see and hear the truth—he knows right from wrong yet afraid and ashamed to speak up. Afraid to open his mouth and tell others of the danger they are living in.
Many Christians struggle with this temptation. We choose to remain silent so that we might be included in the popular crowd—as if popularity matter. We keep our mouth shut so that we don’t offend someone. We remain silent as not to reveal the truth that leads to eternal life. Wide is the road that leads to destruction. On it there will be many “friends.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are at war—souls are at stake. The Lord has called us in the faith to be an example to others and share the hope we have in Christ our Savior who showed us what is precious about our lives. He paid the price of our redemption on the cross of Calvary so that we may see, speak and hear of His love that oozes out of the throne of Grace and carried out on the cross of Calvary.
Indeed we are at war and the only weapon we posses to fight the enemy is the Living Word of God. Through the Word we are able to speak and live and be a light to those who don’t know the love of Jesus. In the battle filed we need to know the tools and power we have to use. What good are we if we don’t use the gifts the Lord has given us to speak of His love? “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32-33).
Do not close your eyes to the truth of the Godless culture that surrounds you – Do not close your ears to the Word of God that provides true understanding – Do not close your mouth in fear and be counted for nothing – Do not be a monkey for the devil.
Faithful followers of the Savior Jesus – you have all been blessed by God. When our Lord Jesus came to earth to suffer and die, He did it for you. When He bore all your sins on His shoulders, He did it for you. When He rose from the grave He rose for you. When He returns in glory, He will return for you. He did all of these things for you and me. And because of sacrifice for us, we are to have our eyes opened, our ears unplugged and our tongues loosed to speak.
Saints in Christ, the battle line has been drawn in the war for our souls and our children’s. But by God’s grace you and I are privileged to know and to share and show the love of Jesus. What a gift God has given us as His children to speak of His love, show He selfless sacrifice; and point them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel that reveals the gift of the Savior through the cross and the empty tomb. Through this Gospel we are victorious in the war and receive the blessings of—eternal life, forgiveness, joy, and peace. Praise be to Jesus for what Has accomplished for us. Amen.
Now the peace…