Recently I watched a video of the procedure known as Lasik eye surgery. In this surgery, a laser is used to create a thin circular flap in the exterior tissue of the cornea. That flap is then folded back to give access to the underlying cornea. A highly specialized laser is then used to reshape the cornea so that it more accurately focuses light on the retina for improved vision. I sat in awe as I watched the patient’s sight improve almost instantly because of this procedure.
I bring this up because today we are going to talk about sight. Specifically, spiritual sight. What we are invited to see today is that with greater precision that Lasik surgery, Jesus Himself provides the vision necessary so that we may see Him as our Savior.
Today’s text reveals to us a man who is blind. Oh, he can see physically just fine. But as far as spiritual sight goes, he is completely and totally blind.
The text says, And as Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Here was a man on a mission, searching for an honest answer. We might wonder how many others he had asked this question as he desperately sought the assurance of knowing that his salvation would be secure. Unlike the Pharisees, he was not trying to trick or trap Jesus. No, this man legitimately saw Jesus as the One who could finally help him. He was even willing to kneel before Jesus, to take a position of humility before Him, in hopes of finally getting his answer.
It is an answer that we have so often seek after as well as we ask the same question: What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
In a survey taken in the early 1990’s, it was revealed that three out of four Lutherans said that they were trying to attain the ultimate gift of heaven and eternal life by “living good lives,” “obeying the commandments,” or “being good Christians.”
What this statistic clearly shows us is that we Lutherans are not immune to the same blindness that this man had who knelt at Jesus’ feet. It is the blindness of self-righteousness. Like this man must have concluded, we tell ourselves the lie that we are good people. And we further that lie when we compare ourselves to others; then we see ourselves as better people. A daily diet of this behavior puffs up pride which only keeps us from clearly seeing the truth before us.
The truth is that pride, more often than not, is a mask of insecurity. Though this man kneeling before Jesus pridefully declares that he has kept all the commandments from his youth (which we will examine more later), he still is insecure about his salvation.
The same can so often be said of us. We put on errs before others that we have life all together, but the truth is, that actually, deep down, we are really an insecure people. We bury our past and all the hurts hoping that if we push them down hard enough and long enough that eventually they will go away. We fret wondering if we have done enough to right all of the wrongs we have done. But on the outside no one would ever know. We put on the smiling face and tell everyone we are ‘just fine’ so that no one really knows what is actually going on within us.
But below the surface of that facial façade, we are battered and bruised by the reality of this sin-filled, fallen world. All too often we bear the burdens of being betrayed by those that said they would love and care for us. Inside, we are left with one question: What do I have to do? What do I have to do to make things right? All too often when we ask this question, we begin to view life as if it were a ladder of achievement or a set of steps in hopes of gaining security in our lives.
And it doesn’t take long for us to look at God’s commandments in a similar way. We begin to see the commandments as a checklist of sorts. If only I do this, then I will finally be in favor with God. If only I accomplish that, I will finally be able to make up for what I did back then. Because after all, we all have sins that haunt us and plague us, right? Things that we have done or failed to do, and the devil knows just how to press the right buttons to shake the security of our salvation.
So what do we naturally turn to? We turn inward toward ourselves. What must I do to inherit eternal life? What do I need to do to make this right? Isn’t that what we ask in a relationship that might be on the rocks. “Just tell me…what do I have to do to make this right, to save this friendship, to heal this family, to fix this marriage?” It doesn’t take much for us to ask the same question before God as well.
It just goes to show that we think much more highly of ourselves than we ought to when come before God. We actually have the audacity to think that we could do something to achieve eternal life, just like this man who knelt before Jesus. We actually think that we are somehow capable of being ‘good’ before God. (Pause)
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother (Mark 10:18-19).
When we first examine these verses, it appears that Jesus is telling this man that eternal life is, in fact, a ladder or a set of stairs to climb. It looks like he is saying, do all these things and you are good to go. But that is far from what Jesus is doing here.
With laser like precision, Jesus is exposing this man’s false sense of security. With the care of a surgeon, he is unveiling this man’s sinful pride and arrogance. He is leading this blind man to see just who the Savior is.
And he said to Jesus, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth. And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mark 10:20-22).
Here was a man who had found his security in life. Unfortunately for him as he walked away disheartened and sorrowful, his security was not in the Savior. For this man, his security was in his wealth.
But that’s the thing, when we fail to see Jesus as the Savior, we become insecure when it comes to salvation. And rightfully so. But what happens is that we are inclined then to misplace our security. Maybe it is in our money or our possessions. Maybe it is in our job title or the position we hold in life. Maybe it is in the affirmation and affection of a person, a parent, a spouse, or even a child. Maybe it is in ourselves and our accomplishments.
Here’s the thing though: The security of salvation comes only in the One who is Good, only in the One who saves. And today the Savior who is the only One who is good places before us the commandments of God to show us that we are sinners. He removes our spiritual blindness so that we may all see we are sinners who fall short of the glory of God. He helps us to see that we will never find security in what we do before God or anyone else. An inheritance is not earned. An inheritance is a gift. A gift given by none other than the One who opens our spiritual eyes. His name is Jesus. He is our Savior.
It was our Savior Jesus who was the One who came and followed the law to perfection. He did that because we were not able. He did that because just like He looked at that man and loved him, so He loves us. In love for us, He went to the cross to bear our burdens and our sins, to die our death so that we would have an eternal inheritance. With eyes of love, He looked upon all of humankind from that cross and said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
All too often we live out the lie thinking we can do all that is needed to be perfect. But, Jesus knew full well that there was nothing we could do to earn eternal life. He knew we couldn’t complete the to-do list of the commandments. He saw us in our battered and bruised state in this world. And like so many of us have had to endure, He was betrayed by one His own so that we would not have to do anything to secure our salvation. He did it for us. It’s finished. It’s done.
Let that sink in for a moment. For all of us who constantly find ourselves burdened by the weight of our sins and those committed against us, take a deep breath and take this in:
As Jesus breathed His last, you may breathe a sigh of relief. The separation is ended. Your salvation is secure. The work is done. You don’t have to work your way to Jesus. He came to you.
And He comes to you once again today. Through His Word and His Holy Supper. He is here for you. To forgive you. To strengthen you. To sustain you. Be at peace, and see your Savior before you.
It is just as we will soon sing after receiving the Savior’s body and blood in the Nunc Dimittis:
(8am) Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.
(10:30am) Lord, bid Your servant go in peace, Your word is now fulfilled. These eyes have seen salvation’s dawn, This child so long foretold. This is the Savior of the world.
Your Savior comes to you and He calls you to follow Him. He will lead you through this valley of the shadow of death, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. So, take a deep breath. You have nothing to fear. Your salvation is secure. See your Savior is here, and He is looking in love upon you. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.