Pastor Sean Willman
Good Shepherd Pleasant Prairie
11 February 2018
Only He who received no mercy can bring mercy to you. Only Jesus, the Son of David, can hear your cry and answer your need. Of course, if you see no need for mercy you are in the wrong place. You don’t belong here in church. The church gathers together to cry out for mercy. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us. Only those who obtain mercy from Jesus can learn to love. Only those in whose hearts the Holy Spirit has implanted His living and eternal word can from their hearts love one another.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
How can such a love exist in what so often appears to be an increasingly loveless world? Where can we go to find this kind of love and to learn to love in this way? We know where we must go. We must go to where the blind beggar went. We must go to Jesus and we must cry out to Him just as that beggar cried out. And when we cry out to Jesus for that love that suffers long, is kind, doesn’t envy or parade itself, is not proud but gentle, humble, self-effacing, and pure, what does Jesus show us? Where does he tell us to look? Whence is the source of this wonderful love for which we yearn and yet that we cannot find within our own hearts? Jesus tells us. He points us to His suffering. Jesus said, concerning Himself, “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated, and spit upon. And after flogging Him they will kill Him. And the third day He will rise.” Oh, what an irony! If we want to see love, we must first witness hatred. If we want to be filled with love for God and for one another –and what could be greater than that! – we must first be willing to confront the most horrifying hatred imaginable.
But we must not only imagine it. We must look at it. We must receive instruction from it. For only in the suffering of the Son of Man can we see love conquer hatred. We look upon Christ’s suffering. We see God’s promises fulfilled. We see true love displayed. We see our prayers answered.
In the suffering of Jesus God fulfills His promises. The first gospel promise God gave was that the Seed of the woman would crush the head of the Serpent. In so doing, His heel would be bruised. This was a prophecy of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. The bruised heal of the woman’s Seed was the price of human freedom from evil. The prophets foretold the suffering of Christ, even speaking His words for Him several hundreds of years before He spoke them. David speaks for Christ saying, “For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet.” (Psalm 22:16) Isaiah speaks for Him saying, “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6) It was no secret that the Christ would suffer.
Still, they didn’t understand. How could they not understand? This was the third time that Jesus had told them. They were familiar with the Holy Scriptures that taught them this. The blood of the covenant had to be shed. Who did they think would shed it if not He who was identified as the Lamb of God? But the disciples who had received instruction from Jesus for three years could not understand the plain meaning of the words Jesus spoke.
He would be delivered to the Gentiles. He would be mocked and insulted and spit upon. There is no love visible here, is there? There is only contempt and disgrace. But He who bears it utters not one word of complaint. Instead of cursing, He blesses. Instead of threatening, He prays. There is the love.
But there is also love in the whipping and in the crucifixion. Not only the love of Christ who patiently endures it, but the love of the Father by whose will it happened. It is our heavenly Father’s love for us. The Father sees the purity of His innocent Son. He sees inside Jesus’ soul and witnesses a spotless and beautiful innocence. It is the purity they have shared from eternity with the Holy Spirit and now the Son become flesh has manifested it for thirty-three years on this earth. The Father, who knows with intimate personal knowledge the