S-1144 10/25/09 21SAP/3B Reformation Day Hymns: (O) #10; (S) #376; (C) #437
Texts: Revelation 14:6-7; Romans 3:19-28; John 8:31-32-31
Theme: “The Son of Honor!” (Mark 10:46-47).
Question: “Have you been honored lately?” SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Reformation celebration is from the Gospel of Mark: “Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and His disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Mark 10:46-47).
Saints in Christ, on August 31, 1972, I was about to embark on the long journey from Israel to the United States. As I was saying goodbye to my family, my father took me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and gave me two pieces of advice: 1). “Son, remember your family name. Always bare that name with honor and don’t make it mud.” 2). “Stretch your feet as long as your mattress is.” Those tid-bits of my father have been guiding my steps ever since I came to this country.
In 1501 another young man from a different country, was leaving his family to head to the University to study. Martin grew up as a son of miner. His father Hans wanted him to become a lawyer. To honor his father, the dutiful Martin went to the University of Erfurt and began studying law as his father desired. But something happened that changed the life of this young man and the world as we know it today. Luther loved his father Hans very much and wanted to honor him, but He had a greater love for His heavenly Father and wanted to honor Him even more.
Luther became a monk because he wanted to please and honor his heavenly Father. While studying the Scripture, he came to know the truth that set him free from the tyranny of the law, its requirements and the fear of being punished by the wrathful God and filled his heart with the sweet message of the Gospel of the crucified and risen Christ.
As we observe the Reformation today, we remember that Luther stood against papacy, princes, and powerful men of the Church. In 521, when Luther was commanded to recant his teachings uttered these words, “Here I stand, I can do no other, may God help me!” His conscience was held captive by the Word of God. This was the fulfilment of Psalm 119:46, I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame. The glory and the power for the confession made by Luther then, and you and me this Afternon is found in the nail marks, the scourged body, the thorn encrusted brow, the spear-pierced side of Him who set the heavens in their places, who breathed the breath of life into Adam: Only Christ! Luther is the first to tell us that the power and the honor and the glory are God’s ALONE. Soli Deo Gloria.
In our Gospel reading today, we hear of another strong confession made by a blind beggar, from Jericho. We know him as Blind Bartimaeus, but that name simply means “Son of Timaeus,” or “Son of Honor.” It would be like calling me “Son of Subhi!” This blind beggar’s name is not important. What God wrought in and through his life is what matters. What God brings to be in and through your life is the matter of Reformation. Only Christ can transform a mighty historical movement from Germany almost 500 years ago – to bring glory and honor to His holy name. Today, our loving and gracious God in Christ continues to speak forgiveness unto renewal and reformation every day - to you - and.... through you to a lost and hurting world.
The story of the Son of Timaeus is telling. Beggars would be left in public places - sometimes near temples or storefronts, or as in the case of this blind beggar, along the main roadway by the temple in Jerusalem. His family stationed him there, day in and day out. A shawl would be wrapped around the back and shoulders of such a beggar as he sat to keep him warm and protected from wind and cold. As people went by they dropped few coins of pity into that cloak.
All these beggars had was that cloak and the few coins - these were their safety net, their livelihood. One thing this beggar-man had that worked perfectly was his hearing. He had heard of this Rabbi and His strange new teaching - or was it the faithful keeping of the Old Testament?! It was the teaching of truth, and this man’s sight being gone, well, his ears would pick up and distinguish between truth and error. He heard the joyous truth of Jesus. He cries out in faith, yes, faith and not desperation (Remember, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God! –Romans 10:17). Timaeus’ son cries out in faith: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”
Was this man courageous? Did he have some hidden, inner strength? No, and no! Ah, but the One who is able to bear the sins of every soul in His flesh, who has the strength to be handed over to sinful men, be killed by crucifixion and three days later rise, He has this beggar, a poor man now infinitely rich! He cries out all the more, not desperately, but with faith, silencing his silencers.
Jesus’ ears also work well for He stops His march and says: “Call him!” Indeed, he has already been called... by the Gospel. He is a captive of hope and help. So, when the disciples call for him to come to Jesus, this man is not careful with his cloak nor his coins. He is blind and he may be able to find neither if the darkness of his eyes remains - he will be cold and penniless. We are told that he sprung up and threw off his cloak. Nothing else mattered besides Jesus. This is a heart that has been reformed and transformed. On this Reformation Sunday behold the cloak-less, coin-less, joy-filled son of Timaeus, son of God.
Yes, like Luther some 15+ centuries later, this blind beggar made his confession with the rest of the Church, I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.... Both men knew what we know, and what we need to be reminded of daily as we confess our sins and confess His faithfulness - that Jesus has come to make the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to receive their sight (Matthew 11:2-6; Isaiah 42:18). Yes, He has come to heal the broken hearted, to defend us against all our enemies (our own heart, the devil, and the world), to restore the remnant. As we make confession, it is in this place in a special, Word directed way, so that it will also be in our every-day lives.
Christ calls us - and we beggars on the journey of life, are to cast off cloak and coin, everything familiar but not Him. This is hard; it is not natural according to our fallen, sinful self. It can only be done because He calls and in that call is the means to answer. Yes, He calls us, calls us to ask Him for healing and to honor Him with our lives of service as did the Monk from Germany—Luther.
Luther left everything he had. His law books were given to others, but he took one book (lift it up high) the most important book—God’s holy Word which brought Him hope, help and heaven. This book he held near his heart and in his hand was God’s gift to man to show him the way of salvation. And through that book we too have come to know of the confession of the son of Timaeus. And the history books teach of Luther’s bold confession here I stand I can do no other.
Yes, the boldness of Luther, the boldness of the son of Timaeus, and your boldness to witness and to love and to give and to endure even as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death with no fear is because He abides with you. The son of Timaeus received back his sight - more than just what his eyeballs could perceive - he saw Jesus as Savior and Lord. Yes, it is this sight that is the joyous gift of the Reformation. Yes, it is this sight that is given and gifted to the world through your witness. Yes, He has called you today to follow Him.
When I left my country over 37 years ago, I attempted to honor my father with all of my power, but I must admit to you that I have failed many times. When Luther left Eisleben to Erfurt he too, tried to honor his father, but alas he failed too. But there is another son, who left His Father and He brought honor and glory to Him in all things.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God left the beauty and majesty of heaven and came to earth and became man. As the honored Son of God, He did honor His Father in Word and Deed. He honored Him by giving His life on the tree of the Cross for the sins of the world. And because this Son honored His Father, we are now the honored sons and daughters of the Father of all mercy and compassion.
Therefore, I say to you precious children of God, “Go your way; your faith has saved you!” This is the call and the gift of the Reformation. And as sons and daughters of Christ, you and I shall stand before kings and not be put to shame. He who promises this is faithful. Stand firm then, in His courage and confessing Him and be not afraid. Even so, Amen!
Now the peace…