S-1351-3MIA/C 12/19/2012 Hymns: #64; #66; #457
Texts: Psalm 119:17-24 2 Kings 6:5-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Luke 1:8-20
Theme: “With Eyes Wide Open” (Luke 1:19-20)
Question: “Have you ever tried to see with your eyes closed?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Third Midweek in Advent is from Luke“… I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time” (Luke 1:19-20).
O most holy people of God, as we meet for our final midweek in Advent we thank the Lord our Creator for giving us eyes to see His wonderful creation and those we love. We thank Him for giving us vision to behold the beauty of sunrises and sunsets, flowers in the meadows, butterflies, mountain peaks and…and those we love. There is nothing more beautiful than when you see your loved ones with your own eyes.
But at times we are unable to see because of circumstances and situations that are out of our control. On December (9-12) we had a terrible blizzard, bad enough to close both interstates. As my wife and I traveled to Sioux Falls (we shouldn’t have) for the BOD meeting and our oldest grandson’s birthday; there were times we couldn’t see. Oh, we have eyes, but the whiteout conditions made it impossible to see.
This is what we have in the text before us tonight. Zechariah had a dream. He and his beloved bride had prayed for years to the Lord who can do all things and asked Him to give them children. But alas, the prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears. That was until one very special day. On that day the angel Gabriel stood before Zechariah in the Temple and told him, “… I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” Zechariah didn’t see the unlimited God in the words of Gabriel. He was blinded by the situation and circumstances.
We are no different than Zechariah. At times our eyes are shut and unable to see because of challenges and circumstances. The problem is that as mere mortals, our vision for the future, like our lives here on earth, is limited. God’s vision is not burdened by such limitations: His plans extend throughout all eternity. PAUSE.
And like Zechariah we all have dreams—dreams of a better future and better life. We have a picture in our mind of how we would like things to be. We want the perfect wife, perfect family perfect home, and perfect job and when that doesn’t happen we wonder where is God and how come He hasn’t answered our prayers. We tend to live with our limited vision rather than having our EYES WIDE OPEN.
Our loving and living Lord; amidst His teachings, His miracles, His sacrifice, and His world-changing resurrection—came to change our lives and our eternities by giving us more than we could ever expect. He wants us to engage life differently than the way the world engages life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10) Through the Spirit’s power, Christ helps us see with the eyes of our hearts the majesty and beauty of what it is that He came to do for Zechariah and us.
He came to give us more than just a dream but life eternal through Him and His ultimate sacrifice. For this reason, when Jesus touched the disciple’s lives they began to live the impossible, hear the impossible, believe the impossible and see the impossible—Christ rising from the dead on the third day. They were living with EYES WIDE OPEN.
And this is what happened to each and every one of us—His 21st century disciples. In baptism, the Spirit removed the scales out of our eyes that were blind to His love and goodness. Through His teaching we have had our ears opened to His love and grace. As we have knelt at His altar we have been fed with the food that makes our eyes strong to keep gazing at Him who came in flesh to the manger of Bethlehem and sacrificed that flesh on the cross of Calvary!
When we live by faith, we concentrate on that which is not seen by human eyes, but upon that which is unseen. By faith the eyes of our hearts see that Christ is the center and focus of our lives and are able to live our lives with EYES WIDE OPEN. We learn to trust God to guide us on this journey that we cannot take on our own. PAUSE.
Beloved in the Lord, nestled in the Gospel of St. Mark is the wonderful and eye opening story of blind Bartimaeus. According to St. Mark, a great crowd was following Jesus, and this blind beggar begins to shout “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Some in the crowd wanted him to be quiet, but he wouldn’t listen to them and kept crying out “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then Jesus called him over and asked him “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mk. 10:46-52).
It certainly appears to be an unusual question. Bartimaeus is blind from birth and Jesus is the Son of God so you know Jesus knew what he wanted. And notice that he didn’t ask anything except the thing he needed the most—to see. He did not ask to hear better, or for clothing, food, or lodging. But He asked about his greatest need.
Saints in Christ, if Jesus this evening were to ask you, “What do you want?” Would you ask for great wealth? Would you seek wisdom like Solomon? Or would you pray like the Greeks who came to St. Andrew, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” The Holy Spirit is the One who can answer with St. Paul, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,” (Philippians 3:10) The Spirit is the One who will open your blind eyes to see the Babe who is the One for whom we sing: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” (O Little Town of Bethlehem vs. 1d). PAUSE.
In 1895 a Midwesterner woman, Clara Scott, wrote a beautiful hymn called: “Open My Eyes.” For a little over a hundred years many believers in Jesus have sung this hymn and were blessed by it. I pray that it is a blessing to you as well:
Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
That is a wonderful prayer by this young lady. May it be our prayer as well! This night as we gather with Zechariah, Elisha, Paul and others, may our hearts be moved to see like we have never seen before. That we would come to Him with hearts aglow and eyes opened wide to see the marvel and power of giving Zechariah and Elizabeth the gift of John the Baptizer, but of greater amazement, He gave us His Son, to be our Savior from the unholy Trinity.
By the grace of God may we see the wonder of all wonders—God’s marvelous creation and redemption brought about in that tiny Baby—Jesus the Savior of mankind—yours and mine. Amen.
Now the peace…
SOLE DEO GLORIA.