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Sunday, December 3, 2017

posted Dec 4, 2017, 12:18 AM by Site Administrator   [ updated Dec 4, 2017, 9:24 PM ]





Luke 18:31-42

Key Verse 18:41


"What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied.


First, "Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled" (31-34). Look at verses 31 through 33. Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again." It was Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was waiting for him – betrayal, suffering and death. But he was not afraid; he was not depressed, because it was not his failure, but the fulfillment of God’s words in the Scriptures. Facing the impending suffering and death, he decisively said to his disciples, "Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled."


There are many things that are written about our Christian life in the Bible. What about persecution? In the parable of the sower, Jesus describes it as the sunlight for the plant, which is even essential. Jesus even says, "You will be hated by all nations." (Mt 24:9) What about suffering in serving God's kingdom work? The apostle John in Revelation describes it as ours, saying, "I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos..." (Rev 1:9) As we live as Christians serving God's work, we come to experience these things -rejections, persecutions or some financial difficulties. What about no fig tree buds, no grapes on the vines, the fields produce no food, no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls? (Habakkuk 2) Instead, you have sufferings and poverty? If that's what is written in the Scriptures, then, we say, "Everything that is written about us in the Bible will be fulfilled." Such sufferings and difficulties are not our failures, but just a normal part of our Christian life; after that comes God's comfort and provision, and we become victorious in every aspect of our Christian life. Everything that is written about us in the Bible will be fulfilled. 


Because that's how Jesus saw his sufferings and death - the fulfillment of the Scriptures, he was ready to die on the cross. But his disciples were not ready; they were not ready to accept his suffering and death in Jerusalem. Now, they must know the way of Jesus their Master, and the meaning of suffering and death for God’s kingdom work – it is not failure, but the fulfillment of God’s words. Jesus’ entire ministry can be divided into two semesters in accordance with the key points of his teaching for the disciples. The key point of the first semester was that they might come to know who Jesuswas. Through his teachings, miracles and life, the disciples could see that he was God’s Messiah, promised in the Scriptures. When Jesus asked, "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter shouted, "You are God’s Messiah!" So, they passed the first semester with A+. Then, the second semester started right away, and the goal of this second semester was that they might know how they must live their life as his disciples, that was, the way of the cross. Right after Simon Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus showed them how he would become the Messiah, saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Lk 9:22) Jesus showed them that he would walk on the way of the cross to become the Savior of the world, and he told them to follow him in the same way, saying, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." As he would become the Messiah through the cross, Jesus invited his disciples to follow him through the cross also. The way of the Messiah was the cross; the way of the disciples is the cross. Jesus said of his suffering and death, "Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled." Through the cross, Jesus entered into his own glory as the Messiah, and as God the Creator. The cross leads us to glory. When we enter through the cross, all God’s promises will be fulfilled in our lives. 


When we study the gospels such as Matthew, Mark or Luke, we see that the disciples were weak, sometimes, worldly, sometimes humanistic, and even sometimes power-hungry like politicians competing with each other. As long as they did not accept the way of the cross for their Master Jesus, they were pursuing their own dreams and desires – when they did not accept the way of the cross, they were nothing but self-seeking people in the name of following Jesus. They were immature and blind. But when we study the book of Acts or the epistles of the apostles, we can see that they were great men of God, so inspirational and powerful. Such change all happened when they accepted the way of the cross; such great change happened in their lives when they denied themselves and offered their lives to God for His mission. When Jesus called them, he promised, saying, "Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." He said to Simon, "You areSimon son of John. You will be called Cephas," which means, "Rock." Everything that was written about them was fulfilled when they accepted Jesus’ teaching, the way of the cross. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."This was fulfilled in their lives when they followed Jesus by walking on the way of the cross, by denying their own desires for success and power, and taking up the cross of mission wholeheartedly. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the world… you are the light of the world." Indeed, his disciples became the salt and light of the world when they followed Jesus who walked on the way of the cross. They all entered glory together with Jesus when they accepted the way of the cross.Everything that was written about them was fulfilled


Jesus is the Christ – this is our confession of faith. Now, we must understand how he became our Messiah, the Savior – through the cross. Jesus became the Messiah through the cross. In the same way, we can become Jesus’ disciples by following him, by living in the same way he lived, by walking on the way of the cross. The cross is the emblem of suffering and death; the cross is the place where we die, where we renounce all our own things – good or bad. But when we die on the cross, when we lose everything for God's kingdom work, there we enter God’s glory. The cross is the secret way to glory. Jesus walked on the way of the cross, and now he invites us to walk on the same path, saying, "Follow me." If we follow him in this way, surely, we all become fishers of men as Jesus promised. If we follow him in this way, surely, all of us will grow up to be powerful servants of God who can reveal God’s glory to the world as Jesus did. When we follow Jesus, God’s promises in the Bible will be fulfilled upon our life; we will never walk in darkness but have the light of life. 


What was the disciples’ response? Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:


The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.


"They did not understand any of this." "Its meaning was hidden from them." "They did not know what he was talking about." It was not because Jesus had not shown them about it, but because they were not willing to accept it. They wanted glory, success and wealth, but they did not want to suffer or die, so they rejected Jesus’ message of the way of the cross. Simply, in their eyes, Jesus must not die for the sake of their own dreams, so they did not want to hear such a message. As long as they held onto their own secret desires in following Jesus, the message of the way of the cross was hidden, and they didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about.


Thus, there was a wrestling match between Jesus and his disciples about the way of the cross. During the first semester in their disciples' life, Jesus' messages were always wonderful - The kingdom of heaven is near you; from now on you will catch men; you will be called Rock; God loves you; God forgives you; whatever you ask in my name will be given to you,... The disciples responded saying, "Amen!" But during the second semester, Jesus' messages were very challenging - sell everything you have, and you will have eternal life; unless you receive the kingdom of God like a little child, you will never enter it; deny yourself and take up the cross daily; lose your life for me and the gospel, and you will keep it; how hard it is for the rich to be saved; you must die to yourself,... The disciples did not like such messages. But Jesus repeated such messages every Sunday for many weeks. It was a real wrestling match between Jesus and his disciples. Why did Jesus really try to help them accept the way of the cross, even when his disciples did not like it? It was because the way of the cross was the way of life, and there was no other option. The way of the cross was the principle that was set for all people. When the Son of God came into the world, even he abode by it and then entered his glory. His disciples must accept it and walk on it so that they might have real life and enter glory with him.  


Modern day, it is very rare to find anyone who walks on the way of the cross, who denies his own desires and plans in order to serve God’s mission. The teaching of the way of the cross is utmost clear in the Bible – Jesus uses strong expressions such as, "Anyone" "must," but amazingly, it is hidden from modern day Christian community. Why? It is because people do not want to deny their own dreams and plans; it is because they do not want to take up the cross of mission, but want to live for their own purposes. As long as they hold onto their own dreams, the message of the way of the cross is hidden from them. All these people, instead of repenting and turning to God really, and becoming powerful men and women of God, become just religious. To them, being Christian means to become moralistic and ethical. As a result, Christians do not function as the salt and light of the world; Christians do not give very good influence to the world. When the salt loses its saltiness, what good is it for? Good for nothing, and such salt is thrown onto the ground and trampled down. The way of the cross is the way of life, the way of true success and glory. I pray that Jesus’ teaching may not be hidden from you. Let’s pray that we may open our hearts and accept God’s message of the way of the cross so that we can live a truly successful and fulfilling life in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray that God’s good promises, all of them, may be fulfilled in our lives. 


Second, "Lord, I want to see" (35-43). Look at verses 35 and 36. Now Jesus approached Jericho. Jericho was about 17 miles from Jerusalem. Once Jesus passed the city, they would never have a chance to see him again. There was a beggar by the roadside, and he was blind. A beggar’s life is already pitiful, but he was a blind beggar – what a pitiful person he was. Probably, he was the lowest person in the city. As he was sitting by the roadside, there was a great commotion – so many people were on the street, and it seemed that they were excited. The beggar wondered – what’s going on? When he asked what was happening, they told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." At this, the man began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The expression, "Son of David" was a biblical idiom for the Promised Messiah. God promised David that he would establish his kingdom through his son forever. David’s Son was the one who would establish God’s kingdom here on earth, and rule over his people with justice and righteousness forever. It was really amazing that this blind beggar who had never seen Jesus, recognized him as the Promised Messiah. How? He heard about what Jesus had done – how he healed so many people, how he drove out many demons, and how he calmed down the storms, and what he had taught. With all the information he collected about him, he could see very clearly that Jesus must be the Messiah.


People say, "Seeing is believing." They say, "If God shows me the evidence, I will believe." Or people say, "If God appears to me, I will believe." But that’s not true. Romans 10:17 reads: "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Faith comes from hearing the message, indicating that our faith must be rooted in the word of God. This blind beggar could not see anything physically, but when he heard about what Jesus had done and what he had taught, he could see very clearly that Jesus was the Promised Messiah. Faith comes from hearing the message. We must take down deep root in the word of God so that we can be like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither; then, whatever we do prospers. We must teach our students the word of God diligently so that they may take down deep root in God’s word.


When he believed that Jesus was the Christ, what did he? Did he sit back and say, "I am saved"? No. Because he believed that Jesus could save him from his misery, he shouted at the top of his lung, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." When there was some obstacles - people rebuking him to stop shouting - he was not discouraged. Instead, more loudly, he shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" He was desperate and wholehearted in seeking Jesus' help and blessing. Thus, he received his blessing and was saved from his fate. Then, his life changed forever


The people we see in the Bible such as the leper, the paralytic, the blind, the Samaritan woman, and even the Pharisees are actually, representatives of all mankind. This blind beggar is also the representative of mankind. All fallen people are blind. They don't know who they are, what they are, where they came from, where they are going, how they must live their lives, and what they must do with their lives. That's why, when their sons or daughters ask them, "Daddy, what is life?" they cannot answer, because they themselves do not know what life is about. The only thing they know about life is that they must pay the bills, so they study hard and work hard. It is real tragedy that in their lives, the only controlling factor is that they must pay the bills. They are blind. Also, all fallen mankind are beggars, begging for understanding, sympathy, acceptance and love all the days of their life. Now we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Promised Messiah. He can save us. So what should we do? We must cry out to him desperately and wholeheartedly, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." We must seek his help and salvation with all our heart. Such people come to experience his salvation.

Look at verses 40 and 41. Let’s read these verses together:


40Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41"What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied.


Finally, his desperate cry caught Jesus’ attention. Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The man replied, "Lord, I want to see." It is really amazing that this blind beggar still had hope to see and believed that Jesus could open his eyes. The blindness was the very cause of all his misery and ill-fate. Because of this blindness, he lost all chances in his life – a chance to have proper education, a chance to get a decent career job, a chance to have sweet home, and he was forced to live as a beggar, living on others’ mercy. What a painful life it was that he had to live as a beggar. How many times he cursed his blindness; how many times he wept and cried over his terrible fate, but still, there was nothing he could do – his blindness was incurable, and probably, he had been living in this way for many years, if not lifelong. In this kind of situation, usually, most people give up, and accept it as their fate, and live in misery. But amazingly, this man still had hope to see; he didn’t give up, and he believed that Jesus would be able to open his eyes. His faith was not conceptual, or vague, but very practical and concrete. To him, Jesus was the Messiah who could save him from his ill-fate and give him a new life of hope and joy.

Jesus’ question, "What do you want me to do for you?"comes to us as a challenge. Many people think that they don’t need to tell God what they want, because God knows all. But that’s not true. God, even if he knows all, asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?" One day, I was praying to God, coming up with many prayer topics, asking him to do this and that; while I was praying for these things for about 20 minutes, suddenly God asked me, "Are these what you really want?" I was embarrassed. Then, after thinking about what I really wanted, I said to God, "No. I want to have fellowship with you. That's what I really want." Having problems and challenges in life is not a real problem. Many Christians' real problem is having no sense of problem about anything, and thereby, having no real prayer topic. They just go by the flow, doing what they are asked to do - they have no real prayer topic; they have nothing they really hope for in their Christian life. At best, they just go through the motion, while inwardly, their soul becomes like dried branches. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for,…" Here, the phrase, "What we hope for,…" shows that when we have something we really desire, we have a chance to use our faith. If we don’t know what we really want, then, we end up offering superficial prayer topics, which we don’t care whether they are answered or not, and thereby, God has no reason to pay attention to our prayers. In prayer, God wants us to be really sincere; he wants us to ask him for what we really want – what we really need. When we offer our prayers to God, when we ask God for something, we must mean it. What prayer topics do you have? God asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?"  


At this, the man’s answer was very clear: "Lord, I want to see." He had a clear prayer topic; he knew what he really wanted – it was to see. He did not want to remain in misery only because of his blindness. He did not want to remain in darkness any more, but wanted to see the beautiful world God created. He wanted to see the blue sky with white clouds floating in the air; he wanted to see the sun, the moon and the stars he had heard about; he wanted to see beautiful roses; he wanted to see how he looked; he wanted to see his mom's face. It was his dream. To him, there was nothing more important than seeing. "Lord, I want to see."


When we take this passage very carefully, we can see that this blind man’s struggle is not unrelated to the disciples’ present situation. They were blinded by the glory of this world – wealth and power, fame and recognition, so they could not see the glory that was waiting for them in heaven. Because they could not see the beauty of living for God, the beauty of walking on the way of the cross, the beauty and glory of following Jesus in his footsteps, they were endeavoring to catch what was temporary and what was worthless. How much Jesus wanted to open their eyes to see God’s glory! How much Jesus wanted to hear this prayer topic from his disciples, "Lord, I want to see."


"Lord, I want to see." This must be our prayer topic. "I want to see the glory of God." "I want to see the glory of having fellowship with God." When we truly know the beauty of our Lord Jesus, how beautiful he is in his person, in his manner, and how kind, gentle, and loving he is, then, we will truly love him, and follow him with all our hearts and strength. When we really know him, suddenly all things of the world lose their value in our eyes completely, and we love him alone. When we really know what’s waiting for us at the end of our life – the glory and honor God has prepared for all those who have followed him, we will not even look at the good looking things of this world, but love God alone, and pursue our heavenly reward, by denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily. We are really fascinated when we hear about many glorious things great servants of God experienced. How great it will be when we see such great things - once we see them, our life will never be the same. Lord, I want to see. Lord, please open my eyes to see your beauty. I want to see the glory of God.


At this, Jesus was pleased with him and said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. Actually, it was Jesus who healed him - he said to him, "Receive your sight." But Jesus gave him the full credit of this healing, saying, "Your faith has healed you." When you have real faith - not conceptual, but real faith, your faith becomes a channel through which God can launch his power and reveal his glory to the world. Have faith in Jesus. He can heal you. He can save you from your misery. 


When this man was healed, he was no longer a blind beggar, but a follower of Jesus Christ, praising him. He was no longer a sorrowful man, but a happy man in Jesus. At this, all people there were greatly inspired, and they too praised God. When the man lived as a blind beggar, he was a source of burden. People felt convicted when they did not give him their coins. They wanted to avoid him. But now when he was healed of his blindness by his absolute faith in Jesus and followed him praising God, he was a source of inspiration that many people praise God because of him.


Surely, it is not God’s will for us to remain in misery only because of our blindness. God wants to open our eyes to see the beautiful world he created so that we can truly appreciate his work and we may truly love him and honor him. But, he first asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?" God works based on our own desires. I pray that we all may have a burning heart’s desire to see the world as a whole, and to see the beauty of God and offer this prayer topic to him, "Lord, I want to see."


One Word:Lord, I Want To See