Easter is 50 days away now. There’s no turning back. It’s time to walk with Jesus “up to Jerusalem” to see Him suffer and die for us and rise again. Faith will not turn away. Faith wants to see and hear. It desires to behold Christ Crucified and dwell with Him. For faith comes to Calvary’s holy mountain and says “He did this for me!” Therefore you are saved by faith alone – sola fide.
But the disciples had no faith. They heard The Word of God and did not believe it. The Son of Man told them He would be betrayed to The Gentiles, mocked, insulted, spit on, whipped and crucified, yet He would rise back to life the 3rd day. They heard it but did not believe it. They did not understand this is what The Prophets said. They refused to think their people could do this to Him. Nor did they understand what He had come to do. Yet faith believes. It trusts. It trusts Jesus’ Word, and unlike the disciples, it says (TLH 150:1, 3):
Lord Jesus, Thou art going forth For Me Thy life to offer; For me, a sinner from my birth, Who caused all Thou must suffer. So be it, then, Thou Hope of men; Thee I shall follow weeping, Tears flowing free Thy pain to see, Watch o’er Thy sorrows keeping.
‘Tis I, Lord Jesus, I confess, Who should have borne sin’s wages And lost the peace of heavenly bliss Through everlasting ages. Instead ‘tis Thou Who goest now My punishment to carry, Thy Death and Blood Lead me to God; By grace I there may tarry.
To these words The Savior says: “Your faith has saved you. Because I suffered the night of sin’s dread might while bearing your guilt on The Cross, despair over your sin no longer. Because I took on Myself the pain you should suffer in hell, you are made whole. You are freed of sin’s curse and guilt which Adam gave you for I took it on Myself in My Passion. My gift of love from heaven above will forever bless you” (inspired by TLH 150:2, 4).
This is what the disciples did not know, yet blind Bartimæus did. He was sitting on the road begging when he heard a crowd coming. Something about it seemed different, like it was real big or had a special reason. So he asked what was going on. Perhaps the beggar was hoping he could go home for a while and not beg because lots of people would give him, once he tallied it up, lots of dough. He got something better. He was told Jesus of Nazareth was passing through. His prayers were answered. He had prayed for this moment. He had prayed to be healed, to finally see. So he cried out, in faith, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
But wherever faith is, the devil is close at hand. Those leading Jesus did not know what He is like. They told him to be quiet. They implied he wasn’t worth Jesus’ attention help. They wanted Him to just walk on by. This guy was just another annoying beggar out to spoil their day. Better to just keep on walking, ignore him, and get to their destination soon before night fell. This idea that Jesus can’t or shouldn’t or won’t help is unbelief, the very thing the devil wants to give you in place of faith. Faith saves; unbelief damns.
But Bartimæus didn’t listen to the temptations of the wicked world. He paid no attention to his nagging flesh which told him “There’s no way He’ll take a moment just for you.” Instead he believed The Word of God which says: “In Thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed; deliver me in Thy righteousness.” Against those wicked men who knew not Jesus’ love, he said to Him: “Be Thou my strong Rock, for an house of defense to save me. Thou art my Rock and my Fortress; therefore for Thy Name’s sake lead me and guide me.” For he knew and believed that this Jesus is The One The Psalmist praised when he sang: “Thou art The God that doest wonders; Thou hast declared Thy strength among the peoples. Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph.”
With this faith he called out again, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”, and The Lord mercifully heard his prayer. He called him to His side. He did not reject him. He did not find him too insignificant to deal with. He asked him what he wanted, so he begged to be set free from the bonds of his blindness. And He set him free. He set him free from blindness, and not just from blindness, but from sin, and He defended him from all evil.
So call out to Him. That’s what The Liturgy teaches you to do every time you sing, “Christ, have mercy upon us.” For He bore anguish, scorn, the rod, and died at last upon the tree to bring His Father’s grace to you (WH 407:1). Pray Him to have mercy on you now and at the hour of your death, that you not be judged but receive paradise of the blessed and the resurrection unto eternal life. Pray Him to free you from the bonds of sin and defend you from all evil.
Why do you need Him to do this for you? Because you have not loved as He desires. You have been impatient and mean. You have been jealous and full of yourself. You have been arrogant and rude. You have said, “It’s my way or the highway,” even if the other way was clearly better. You have let people irritate you and resented them. You have enjoyed the wrongdoing seen on TV and believed lies. You have failed to love. So you deserve not God’s love, but His hatred.
Yet God loves you. So call on Him to have mercy on you. Your prayer will not be denied. You see His love depicted here before you on The Crucifix. You see Him who was betrayed, mocked, insulted, spit on, whipped, and crucified. You see Him Who died and rose 3 days later. He died and rose to have mercy on you. So He answers your prayer this way (from WH 407:8-11):
In truth I tell you, who receives My Word, and keeps it, and believes,
Shall never fall God’s wrath beneath, Shall never taste eternal death; Though here he must return to dust, He still is noways therefore lost;
For I will with a mighty hand Deliver him from death’s strong band, And lift him hence that he shall be Forever in My realm with me,
Forever living there in bliss.
There you have it. You are rescued from eternal death because you trust His promise. You believe Him, and you are saved by faith alone – sola fide. You are saved by His merciful loving kindness which sent Jesus to earth to die for you. You get His kindness and salvation only when you believe He died and rose for you. You get it because Scripture proclaims it to you. Christ alone saves you. Sola gratia, sola fide, sola Scriptura. Solus Christus. (TLH 150:5 follows) –
What can I for such love divine To Thee, Lord Jesus, render? No merit has this heart of mine; Yet while I live, I’ll tender Myself alone, And all I own, In love to serve before Thee; Then when time’s past, Take me at last To Thy blest home in glory.