Isaiah 35:5-8 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
Then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein.
When John was in prison he sent someone to ask Jesus, “Are You the One Who was to come, or shall we look for yet another?” Jesus replied, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.”
Yes He was the One Who was to come and He came and when He saw people in distress, He had compassion! He did something about it! He healed. When He saw the widow of Nain, He had compassion. When He saw Jairus, He had compassion. When He saw the 10 lepers, He had compassion. When He saw the crowd He had compassion and He did what needed to have been done. He healed. In the case of the 5000- He taught. “Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things.” Thus He fulfilled this prophecy!
Like last week’s text, the prophecy had two parts. One for Jesus’ time, and one for the Last day. Jesus did not make waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand did not become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals did not become a swamp, nor the grass become reeds and rushes.
These things are still to happen when that last trumpet shall blow and the New Kingdom shall begin. And here we are 2000 years after Jesus did all these miracles and awaiting the sound of that trumpet. Here we are with our aches and pains, griefs and sorrows, trials and temptations. Some of us have lost loved ones. actually all of us have! Some of us are still mourning. Some of us have aches and pains, illnesses that may not get any better. Some of us are not just older- but are old and the strength and stamina we once had are forever gone. Some of us are caregivers and on top of our own burdens, we have to carry theirs as well. Some of us cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” If that is all the Bible has to offer-then we would be pitiful!
But what else does the Bible say? “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” God hasn’t forgotten us nor is the age of miracles over!
I have experienced many miracles and I have shared some with you before. Perhaps here is one you haven’t heard. In my first congregation I had had four Calls in a row in which the congregation voted 100% for me to stay. And in came the fifth Call and I tried to turn in down over the phone but the vacancy pastor would not let me. He asked me to pray about it for one month. I told him he was wasting the calling congregation’s time. Anyway when the one month passed, I prayed God would show me a sign in Sunday’s service. There were about 50 prospects on my list, many of whom were attending. I said if God wanted me to stay, bring in just one prospect. As it turned out none attended that service- but 24 visitors came, 12 from 150 miles from the east (Oklahoma City) and 12 from 150 miles from the west (Amarillo). I must add that our town never had visitors. We were a small town in the middle of nowhere away from the interstate. I call this a miracle.
But then there is the miracle of modern science. Indeed the blind are made to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. Various procedures have given sight back to the blind, the cochlear ear implant has made the deaf to hear and artificial limbs have made the lame to walk. (You even see them running marathons!) As far as raising the dead, many who would have died were given life again by modern techniques, perhaps even here this evening there are some who would have died if not treated by modern medicine. (including myself.)
Then this part of our text: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein.”
One commentary says this: “Though they have been “fools” in their unregenerate state, with respect to spiritual things; or though they may not have that sharpness of wit, they may not have that clear and distinct knowledge of Gospel truths as others, at least some of them, yet shall not err as to the way of salvation; and though they may err in some things, not fundamentally, for the way of salvation by Christ is so plain a way, that he that has any spiritual understanding of it shall not err in it.”
I am reminded of my seminary days when I had a Saturday Bible class in the projects for 8-9 year olds, coming from almost as many denominations. Every one of them had a real understanding of John 3:16. Likewise in my breakfast club which a Baptist pastor and I started, all the pastors that stayed with us, knew the Gospel. Many of them even denying what their denominations stood for when it opposed the Gospel. In other words, smoking, drinking movies and playing cards had nothing to do with the Gospel.
That goes also along with Dr. Franz Pieper, a leading LCMS theologian of the last century, who said, “We cannot say we are saved by grace alone and then limit it to Lutherans.”
Finally this: “And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way…” We call it the narrow way. Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Strange? many have found this narrow way and travel upon it- but- the text does not say that any travel upon the narrow way- just strive to find it. One more proof that our actions do not lead to eternal life. Furthermore Jesus, the Good Shepherd seeks us out and brings us to paradise with Him. The thief on the cross found that Narrow Way at the last moment- without any merit or worthiness in him- to quote Luther.
But unlike the thief on the cross we are not moments away from death (Hopefully!) so that leaves us with this verse. “Work while it is yet day, for the night is coming when men will work no more!”
Do you want to hear it from Luther? “For all which it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true!” Amen!
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