The Need To Sanitize Misery

Text: Luke 18:31-43

In the name of Jesus. Amen.
During the time of Jesus, if you were born with some sort of physical handicap or contracted some sort of disease, there would have been a higher chance for you to end up on the streets as a beggar. 

Now, the word ‘beggar’ is quite interesting. It is a word that means to crouch or cringe. Beggars crouched at busy roads; they cringed with shrunken voices while pleading for mercy – namely in the form of begging for money. They did this because there was no medicine to cure them, and there was no social welfare system to help them.  They constantly experienced misery.  
And the people that passed by these beggars? 
Well, some of them would help, but the reason why they helped was often to chalk up a good deed for the day. I imagine that the majority of the people that helped beggars were sure to tell everyone around them about their good deed, just like we post our good works on social media for all to see. For them to help a beggar, well… it was a virtue signal.  Look at how good I am to miserable people!  
But besides all of this, the general perception of a beggar was that they were socially powerless and even an intrusion into people’s everyday lives. They were nobodies; many people did not want to see or hear beggars.  
And so, that day, when the blind man cried out to Jesus, the crowd around Jesus rebuked the beggar. They rebuked the beggar with a threatening scold. The crowd was certainly not gentle with this blind beggar, but they were ruthless – mean. I am sure their language was not clean but disgusting, and their tone was most certainly harsh.
But why be so harsh? Why the stern rebuke? 

Now, we do not know completely for sure, but if I were to guess, knowing what we know about human nature, and knowing what we know about our sinful hearts, the crowd most likely did not want to be bothered with misery. 
You see, dear friends, we like comfort. We like being free from the knowledge of suffering and mortality. We like being free from the knowledge of evil in the world. And so, we create predictable lives and comfortable living conditions – routines – where we avoid the reality of suffering, death, and evil. We sanitize our lives from misery. This is especially true for us in our younger years when we don’t have the constant struggles of failing health. And it is especially true for us in America.  
But when misery, suffering, death, and evil break out and intrude into our lives? Well, we do everything possible to put misery, suffering, death, and evil back into their boxes so that we can return to our comfortable lives. In fact, like that crowd that rebuked the blind beggar, we actually get very angry when misery encroaches on us too much.  Miserable people bother us. They ruin our comfortable bubbles. And so, we avoid miserable people and their misery at all costs.  

Whether it is a 30-second troubling commercial asking us to donate to starving children, a sad funeral that we don’t want to attend, a tough visit to a dying person in the nursing home, the news of war in Eastern Europe, the threats of Covid-19, and so forth, we frankly get exhausted, upset, and overwhelmed from misery. And so, we fight to expel misery from our lives. And as we fight to get misery out of our lives and out of our sight, well… we sometimes hurt those around us. Comfort becomes our end goal, misery is our enemy, and we stomp on those around us to get to our end goal of comfort.   As one person from out of town recently shared with me, “I don’t care what you think pastor or what happens to anyone else, I just want my life to be back to normal.”  
But there is a catch to all of this. And that is the fact that there is no such thing as a normal life free from misery.  We are never free from misery in this life – no matter how hard we try. Even when we close our eyes and ears, misery, suffering, death, and evil are around us at all times. Sure we might yell at misery as they yelled at the blind man. And we may try to turn our eyes the other way to avoid the sight of misery itself. But these are all smoke and mirror tactics. They are ways in which we put our heads in the sand. Furthermore, consider our confession of sin from this morning’s church service. Do we not say every Sunday, “I, a poor miserable sinner?”  Are we not acknowledging in this church that we not only live in misery but are misery?  In other words, are we not in the same predicament as the blind man on that road that day? Sure we may not be blind, but aren’t we just as miserable as he was?  
Dear friends, the great myth of our modern age is that mankind is supposedly not in need. The great myth is that we are special, good, whole, safe, and that we are o.k. But we are not. We are in need. We need to depend on the goodness of another. We need pity. We need mercy. We need compassion, for we are poor miserable sinners. 
But be careful, my friends, for when you say this too loud, it will make people angry. We have seen what happens when a person cries out for mercy; they get rebuked. In other words, if you cry too loudly about your misery of sin, well… it ruins the great myth that we are all o.k. If you cry out that we are mortal, people will get upset because they like to believe that they will live forever. When you confess the evil in your heart, be ready to be yelled at, for such a confession ruins the world’s games of pretend righteousness.  Remember, the world does not like misery to be too loud and too inconvenient.  Misery causes discomfort.  
So, if this is all true, what do we do with our misery of sin?  Where do we go from here? 

It is actually quite simple. We don’t cry for mercy to the world, for the world does not know how to give compassion to miserable sinners. The only thing the world will do is yell at us. Besides the world is to busy with smoke and mirrors to really care for you.  And so, instead, Baptized Saints, cry out for mercy to Christ, and Christ alone. 
But, perhaps, Christ may not be so kind to hear all our cries of misery?  Maybe He won’t have compassion for you and me?    

Consider Psalm 51 for a brief minute. Psalm 51 says that our Lord will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart. In other words, when you and I lay our crushed, destroyed, hurt, and crippled spirit before the Lord – when we cast our broken, collapsed, and torn down hearts before our Christ, our Jesus does not see this broken spirit and collapsed heart as a vile or worthless sacrifice. Instead, your Lord Jesus Christ stands still long enough to hear your cry, and then answers misery with His good and gracious will. He has compassion – mercy – on you.  

That day on the roadside, Christ heard the blind man’s cry for mercy amid the rebuking crowd. And the very same Christ hears your cry for mercy within the shouting rebukes of the world. And unlike the world’s lack of mercy, Christ gives you and me what we do not deserve – He gives us compassion. He sees us in our miserable state of sin, and instead of disgust or a rebuke - misery is met with Jesus’ mercy. Christ holds out to you this day, His free and unmerited and compassionate grace - forgiveness for all of your sins - forgiveness and grace that you receive by faith and faith alone.  

Baptized Saints, Christ gives compassion because He is compassionate.  He gives mercy because He is merciful.  He gives forgiveness, life, and salvation to you this day – as a gift, to be received by faith.  And so, do not listen to the rebukes of the world.  Do not shy away from crying out of your misery to Christ.  Do not stop crying for mercy, for the Lord never stops having mercy on you.  

“Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on us,” we cry, and He certainly does.  
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean