daily biblical sermons


According to their faith, two blind men were cured, and according to our faith we will be transformed
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Friday, First Week of Advent, December 06, 2019
Isaiah 29:17-24, Psalm 26, Matthew 9:27-31


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted

 

 

 

“And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David. When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you.’ And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:27-30).

 

 

Today we see the importance of faith for obtaining supernatural healings and favors from God. The emphasis in this account of Jesus healing of two blind men is on their faith. First of all they cry out to him with a request showing the depth of their faith, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” (Matthew 9:27). The Messiah that the Jews longed for was often called the Son of David, whom they believed would come and sit on David’s throne and rule over the house of Jacob forever. We see this in the annunciation by the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary, when he told her that to the child that she would bear “the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32b-33).

 

 

How did these blind men come to such faith? How is it that they recognized Jesus as the Messiah, calling him by one of his most important messianic titles, “Son of David”? They were not able to see with their own eyes Jesus’ many miracles, but they had faith in the testimony of those that did see them. This is the same way that we have come to faith in Jesus, for we have not seen him risen from the dead nor have we seen any of his supernatural miracles, but we put our faith in the testimony of those that did seen them, and this testimony is recorded in the four Gospels.

 

 

Then Jesus doesn’t just ask them what they want, for he knows what they want. Rather, he asks them, “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this? They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord’” (Matthew 9:28). Jesus sees their faith because they called him, “Son of David,” and because they asked him to have mercy on them. That alone showed their faith that he is the Messiah and that he is able to heal them.

 

 

But Jesus wanted more of them. He wanted them to actually make a profession of faith in him. So he asks them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). And then when he healed them, he again accentuated their faith by saying, “‘According to your faith may it be done to you.’ And their eyes were opened” (Matthew 9:29-30).

 

 

But what does all this have to do with us? Faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of the world, the long awaited Messiah, is the very essence of the Christian life. And the essence of the preaching of the gospel is this kind of faith in Jesus Christ. We are trying to instill faith in the people that we preach to. We are trying to enable them to have faith by hearing about Jesus, about who he is, and about what he came to do in this world. But why is faith in Christ so important? It is so important for two reasons: 1) it enables us to receive many favors from God that he wants to give us if only we ask with faith in him, and 2) it is by faith that we are justified, that is, declared and thereby made righteous by God.

 

 

God’s justifying us or making us righteous is his great act of salvation. We were all ungodly sinners, unable to justify ourselves before God by our good works, because our sins always held us back and could always be held against us, because our good works were never sufficient to “work off” our sins, that is, to make sufficient reparation for them to be completely removed. So we really had no chance of being saved and being truly righteous and resplendent before God. We were simply sinful human beings, sons of the sinful Adam and Eve, alienated from God and destined to pay for our sins by eternal punishment after our physical death. This is because God is perfectly just, and this is what we deserve, and a perfectly just God must give us what we justly deserve. The only way we could get out of this situation is to suffer the just penalty for our sins and thereby work off the debt of suffering and death that we owe God for our sins, but were we to do that, we would not be saved, for we would be in hell forever, eternally alienated from God.

 

 

But the good news is that God is not only perfectly just, but also perfectly merciful; however he has to act in such a way that his perfect mercy does not violate his perfect justice. And how does he do that? He did it by sending his own Son as our substitute to suffer our just penalty for our sins for us by suffering and dying for them on the cross.

 

 

But how does that affect me personally? It affects me when I accept in faith that Christ really did that for me and when I express my faith in Jesus Christ as my Redeemer and Savior by his atoning death for my sins on the cross. When God sees my act of faith in Jesus Christ, he then credits my personal account with Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross as full payment of the debt of suffering and death that I have with God in just punishment for my sins, and therefore he acquits me and declares me righteous.

 

 

It is not my good works that have made me righteous, but rather it is God’s declaration that I, an ungodly sinner, because of my faith in Jesus Christ, have now been judged and declared righteous by the divine judge himself, because of Jesus’ reparation-making, substitutionary, atoning death on the cross for my sins. In other words, Jesus’ atoning death on the cross for my sins is credited to my personal account by God so that God in all justice can now be all merciful and declare me henceforth righteous without violating his own perfect justice.

 

 

Furthermore, we know that God’s word accomplishes what it says. This is very important, so important that it is revealed to us in the third verse of the Bible, when “God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). God’s mere word and pronouncing something causes that which he pronounces to happen so that when he pronounces and declares us ungodly sinners righteous, we become and henceforth are righteous, not by our good works, but by God’s self-actualizing declaration.

 

 

And how did this righteousness come to us? What did we have to do to get this gift of righteousness? It came to us by our faith in Jesus Christ, because that is what enables God to justly declare us righteous. Therefore his mercy in declaring and thereby making us righteous did not in any way contradict his perfect justice according to which he must fully and justly punish all our sins – because he did that in the body of Jesus Christ his Son, our substitute, on the cross.

 

 

What is this faith like that we must have in Christ in order to see this gift of justification, of his declaring us ungodly sinners righteous, which makes us righteous? This justifying faith contains genuine repentance for our sins. We must really be sorry for them, and we must immediately intend to stop sinning gravely. We cannot just say, “I believe in Christ, but I’m going to continue in my sinful ways because I love my sins so much, and God is so merciful that he will forgive me anyway and let me continue to live my gravely sinful life, since he sees that it would be too hard for me to do otherwise. This is the Modernist heresy that is once again raising its ugly head and is wreaking havoc within the Catholic Church these past few years.

 

 

Genuine New Testament faith has nothing to do with this Modernist heresy. Genuine New Testament faith, which justifies us, always contains within itself genuine repentance and the firm purpose of immediately abandoning our sins and amending our life. Once we have this kind of New Testament faith, which includes genuine repentance, then God declares us righteous (justifies us), and so we are living in a whole new world and become “new men” in Jesus Christ, a new creation, and new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

 

This inner renewal that Christ causes in all that have faith in him is the great joy of this beautiful Advent/Christmas season. This is why we now sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come; let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing” (Isaac Watts 1719).

 

 

There is much bad news in the world and even in the Church today that we could focus on, and it is good to focus on it so that we can begin to find a solution to some of these problems, but we also need to focus on the overwhelming good news that we celebrate all year long, but especially during the Advent/Christmas season. And the good news is that we have been made new, with our sins forgiven, and with God’s own gift of righteousness bestowed upon us that makes us radiant and resplendent in his sight. It is not by our own intrinsic goodness or good works that we are so transformed, but rather it is the gift of God’s own righteousness that comes to us through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, on the cross, by means of our faith in him.

 

 

We rejoice during this season because of our salvation, which we begin to receive now, while we are still alive in this world, by being made new people. Once we have repented of our sins and been declared righteous (justified) by God, this grace of our justification both enables and obliges us to now do God’s will and thereby please him. And we do his will by following his normative biblically revealed moral law. By doing so we grow in sanctification (holiness), and our heavenly reward will be proportionately greater the more we grow in holiness by our life of good works in accord with God’s normative biblically revealed moral law.

 

 

So let us rejoice in this beautiful Advent season, helped by the Christmas songs that we hear everywhere around us these days.

 

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