Lent 3—Oculi

Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom on Unsplash

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

᛭ INI ᛭

((5. Oops!: The eyes are the lamp of the body.))

You better watch out! Jesus has a warning for you today. “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore when your eye is healthy, your whole body is enlightened. But when your eye is evil, your whole body is darkened. Therefore if the light within you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22–23)

This isn’t far from the common saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. According to Jesus, your eyes reveal what you want, what inner desires are driving you, what’s going on in your heart, soul, and mind, the things you’ll devote your strength to.

So, why this warning from Jesus today? “Eyeballs.” “Eyes.” That’s the Latin title for this Sunday. “Oculi.” “Eyes.” “Oculi mei,” “my eyes…are ever toward the LORD?”Semper ad Dominum?

((4. Ugh!: What are your eyes on?))

Are they now? Your eyes are always toward the LORD? There’s no fooling the Lord on that one. Don’t try. He knows the thoughts and desires of your heart. (Even better than you do.) Those thoughts and desires are revealed by your eyes. So, what are your eyes on?

What you see, what you look at is what you want, what you want is what you look at. That’s also called “coveting.” Wanting something or someone God hasn’t given to you as a Gift.

Do you have eyes for someone, even passing glances at a person who isn’t your husband or wife? “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her, already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Ladies that goes for you, too.) No wonder Jesus continues: “If your right eye”—the good one—“causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! For it is better for you that one of your body parts would be destroyed and not your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Mt 5:27–29) But maybe it’s not lust. Maybe your internet search history doesn’t make you ashamed.

What are you watching like a hawk? Bank accounts? Grain prices? Retirement funds? Expense reports? Every incoming and outgoing penny. Watching and waiting—worrying!—for the next bill to come due? Watching and waiting for the next payday? Watching the money go up? Watching it go down? Either way, same problem. Eyes on that and not on the Lord.

Are you eyeing up things that aren’t yours? Green-eyed monster? Eve did that with the fruit. (We heard about that a couple weeks ago.) As Paul says, “covetousness is idolatry.” Are you looking down your nose at others because of who they are or what they’ve done, while you do the same things? Are watching someone, waiting for them to slip up, so you’ve got that gotcha moment you’ve been waiting for?

Are your eyes fixated on your past, your sins? Are you stuck gazing at you and how you don’t measure up to yourself, to others, to God? Then are you eyeing any escape from this trap, from the net, even if for a little while, rather than the LORD?

((3. THE LORD SETS HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU.))

You can’t fool the Lord. He sees all. He knows all. He sees into every deep dark place you try to keep these sins out of sight. Nothing escapes His gaze. Every sin of thought, word, and deed, even the complete sinfulness of our hearts apart from Him—all of it known and seen. Not just for you. Not just for me. But for all people who’ve ever lived and will live.

This actually shouldn’t surprise us. And not just because the Lord’s omnipresent and omniscient. We should expect Him to be scoping us out, plotting and planning about us, that He might have us as His own. He wants to claim us as His own. He wants to save us. That’s what we see in our Gospel text today.

THE LORD JESUS SETS HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU.

((2. The Lord has bound the strong man.))

The Lord binds the strong man to save you. The strong man is the devil. And for the Lord to bind Him, well, He scopes it out, plots and plans the strong man’s demise. It’s an eternal plan. From eternity He sees what you and I are in ourselves, and then out of His mercy alone, out of His grace alone, His undeserved favor, THE LORD JESUS SETS HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU.

And because the LORD JESUS SETS HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU, apart from any merit or worthiness in you, the Triune God then uses His omniscience, His omnipresence, even His omnipotence to move creation, to move the nations, to direct history to that end saving you.

Every godless nation, every godless person, every godless heart that is directed by the devil, well, that all played into the Lord’s hands! He saw it all! (Didn’t cause it, but He uses to serve His end—salvation!) The mystery of predestination. THE LORD JESUS SET HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU. Eternally set His sights on saving you, not only leaving you in the devil’s kingdom, not on damning you.“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul says (1 Thess 5:9).

What the Lord sees, what the Lord wants, is what the Lord does. He SET HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU, and so He came into the devil’s kingdom. He bound the strong man devil. He took away the armor in which the devil trusted. How does He do all this? Finally, ultimately, finishedly—Calvary! There the devil is forever conquered. “It is finished!” The message of Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of the world is something that the gates of hell cannot withstand.

And you are the spoils that Jesus wanted. The Lord Jesus didn’t size up a Kingdom. “He didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant.” (Phil 2) “He made Himself nothing.” “He became poor so that by His poverty you would become rich.” (2 Cor 9) He became our sin! (1 Cor 5) He became our curse, “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” (Gal 3) He “took on the form of a servant.” “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom”—a payment—“for many,” for you. All so that He could have you.

You are the spoils He wants. You are His heritage, as we’d sing in the Te Deum if it weren’t Lent. “Heritage” means that you are His inheritance. You are the thing that Jesus wanted to get, that Jesus wanted to have, that Jesus wanted to possess forever. You are the spoils of the war He waged and won against the devil!

THE LORD JESUS SET HIS SIGHTS ON SAVING YOU. And at Calvary that’s exactly what happened! And it also happened I n the waters of Holy Baptism. “Baptism now saves you.” There the name of the Triune God was put upon you, marking you has His own. God the Father, by the Holy Spirit poured out on you, “transported you from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom you have redemption the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 2)

((1. You are now light in the Lord.))

The Lord Jesus despoiled the devil’s by His death, and, baptized into His death—and resurrection to boot!—“you are now light in the Lord.” Only in the Lord. In yourself—not so much. For “everyone who is sexually immoral or impure or covetous (that is an idolater) has no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.”

Now, if you want to try to be light on your own, that will last as long as you can keep your eyes under control, really your heart. Because as Jesus warned, “If the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

“You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” He is the Light of the World. (Jn 8) He is your light, too. “You’re light only in Him,” that is, baptized into Him, faith in Him.

He shines His light into your heart. (2 Cor 4) That’s His mercy toward you. Always more light than your darkness. Always more mercy than your need. Always more forgiveness than your sins. Always more strength than your weakness. Always more life than your death.

“As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.” “My eyes are ever toward the Lord for He will pluck my feet out of the net.” He has. He has forgiven you all your sins. The net that traps you.

There’s always more from Him for you. He set His sights on saving you, and did it! Calvary! He won’t hold out on you now. You are His true inheritance. See His last will and testament about that. That’s why we sing “Mine eyes have seen the salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people.” He bequeathes to us, as He says, “My body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins” that we would live forever with Him, face to face, “seeing Him just as He is.” (1 Jn 3)

᛭ INI ᛭

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