Resurrection Lutheran Church, St Catharines
Seeing to the Heart of God
Rev. Kurt Lantz Quinquagesima 1 Samuel 16:1-13
February 19, 2023 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON
Dear people anointed in Holy Baptism,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blind Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:37). Jesus is a descendant of David, the great Old Testament King of Israel. After Saul, the first king, had disobeyed the LORD and kept for himself what was to be dedicated to God, the LORD rejected him as king and sent Samuel, the priestly prophet, to anoint a new king. That is how they did these things. The LORD chose His servant and he was then publicly anointed with oil to reveal His choice and to give the chosen all the blessings he would need to fulfill the office into which he had been called.
So Samuel was sent to Bethlehem to anoint one of the sons of Jesse to be the next king. The firstborn Eliab was tall like Saul and appeared to human eyes that he would be a good military leader. Samuel was sure that Eliab would be the LORD’s anointed. The title is one of the Hebrew words you know: “Messiah.” Messiah simply means the one anointed. In the New Testament the Greek word “Christ” means the anointed one.
About one thousand years later, when Jesus appeared in public, the Jewish nation was in a shabby state, under the control of the Roman Empire, with the foreigner Herod masquerading as king. There was a great desire among the people for the coming of the Messiah; one whom the LORD would choose, rather than a political appointee of Caesar; one who would be a king like David, who slew giants and defeated all of Israel’s enemies and secured her boundaries, and brought prosperity and peace. That is what the people were looking for.
But the one in the city of Jericho crying out for “Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David,” was blind. He could not see how tall Jesus was, whether He was an imposing figure of great stature. He could not see if Jesus would strike a dignified pose commanding respect. He had no idea if Jesus appeared like a man who could slay giants and lead armies. But perhaps, being blind, he could more easily see that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (the Christ), the publicly anointed deliverer of God’s people.
As Samuel became more and more perplexed as each of Jesse’s sons was presented to him and the LORD kept saying, “I have not chosen him,” he learned that “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It was the littlest of Jesse’s sons that the LORD had chosen, a keeper of the sheep; one who had a heart to tend and keep, to feed and protect; one who would put his life on the line, facing down lion and bear trusting that the LORD would give him the victory; one who would even step forward to battle giants with the same faith in the LORD to deliver and save His people.
Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, was publicly anointed by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Like Samuel, John was a bit perplexed about the selection of his younger cousin as the Messiah of God. He testified, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on Him.. I myself did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God” (John 1:31-34).
Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism as David was anointed with oil and the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him (1 Samuel 16:13). Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David, is the anointed, the Messiah, the One chosen to deliver His people. Chosen not because of His stature or anything to do with His outward appearance; for it is man who looks on the outward appearance, God looks upon the heart. And this is why the blind man of Jericho could see the Messiah as Jesus passed by.
Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd, the one who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:15). He is One who has a heart to tend and keep, to feed and protect; One who would put his life on the line, facing down death and devil; One who steps forward to battle with you, O sinner, in order to deliver and save His people.
Yes, He came to battle giant sinners like you, who judge and choose, looking on the outward appearance. Jesus knew He would have to face fearful giant sinners. He told His twelve disciples, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise” (Luke 18:31-33).
That is what you do, isn’t it? You mock and treat people shamefully who do not pass the judgment of your eyes. Sometimes that is done with flogging and spitting. Sometimes you do that with mocking and betrayal. Sometimes you do it with boasting and arrogance, being rude and resentful, by withholding aid and help and not bearing with those whose appearance fails your standard. It is a fearful thing that “the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” He looks on your heart and sees the giant sins that need to be struck down.
“Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David,” is the Man with God’s own heart. He hears the cry of the blind man and does not see a dirty street beggar, but a heart that turns to God for mercy and salvation through His Son. And He can say to the blind man, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well” (Luke 18:42). His faith in what he had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David, gave voice to a cry for mercy, and the gracious and loving heart of Jesus freely gave to him healing and salvation.
Seeing Jesus through the word of this Gospel Reading we recognize that He is the Man with God’s own heart, and we sorely lack it. He does not treat the poor and lowly like we treat them. His actions condemn our own and He becomes the giant-slayer. That little Child born in Bethlehem, the city of David, strikes us down with His condemning Law. He takes the sword of our own cutting words and lops off our head-strong pride.
Yet through the word of that same Gospel Reading we recognize that this Jesus of Nazareth, the Man with God’s own heart, is eager to save those who cry out to Him for mercy. When we recognize that we are sinful beggars with giant sinful hearts who do not deserve to be His chosen, our only hope is to repeat the cry of the blind man, “Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David, have mercy on me.” And like the blind man, Jesus gives us sight to see His heart; One to be our shepherd; One to rescue, heal, and feed us; One who gave His life to save us from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.
By God’s grace we have been transformed from giant sinners condemned to be struck down dead, into dirty street-beggars who are the object of the Son of David’s mercy. God should have rejected us, but He chose us. He anointed us with water and the Word in Holy Baptism, and His Spirit has rushed upon us to grant all of the blessings and gifts necessary to our calling as members of His royal family, heirs of the kingdom’s treasures.
Anointed with the same Spirit as our adoptive ancestor David, we confess our sins with him and pray as he did: “Create in me a new heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11). We cry out with the voice of the blind man, “Lord, have mercy,” knowing the heart of One who has come to stand against death and devil, sin and the grave in order to deliver and save us.
This is how we carry out our callings as those anointed by the Spirit in Holy Baptism. We daily confess the sins of our hard stony hearts, and daily we arise with new hearts to live the life of God’s anointed people. It is the life of Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. We have been crucified with Him, putting to death all of our sins and evil desires so that we may live life anew with the heart of Jesus, displaying His love which is “patient and kind; does not envy or boast; is not arrogant or rude... but bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7).
It was for this love that Jesus was handed over, mocked, spit upon, and killed. It is a love that those with a different heart cannot see and even hate. It is a love that condemns their lack of love. For this love He died and rose again. This is the divine love of the heart of God to save you from your sinful heart and to give you His own.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.