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February 11, 2024

The Legacy of Jesus is Beyond Compare.

Passage: Luke 18:31-43

In a 1990’s film, the generational baseball talent Babe Ruth is depicted by an actor to say this quote, “Remember, kid: heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” For a 1990’s coming of age style movie to use such a profound quote is baffling, but they’re correct. The difference between these two terms, hero and legend is that Heroes are defined by their aspirations to the greater good. If they become famous enough by their actions, then stories could be told about them, maybe eventually evolving into legend. But being a legend is about fame or notoriety. You could have heroes that no one knew about. Legends, on the other hand, never die. Their legacy continues seemingly forever.

Now, when it comes to the term legend, usually myth, fantasy, and make-believe stories are associated with the term for people will naturally embellish stories of glory when they really like and appreciate their heroes. Many people today, to their shame and doom, do the same to Jesus Christ. They believe that the church thought that He was such a good teacher that they needed to make up legends of miracles to make Him a legend. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus in fact performed every miracle and said every word that Holy Scripture ascribes to Him. Based on this infallible Holy Scripture we see that Jesus is no mere hero, no mere legend, but beyond legend, who, though He dies, rises on high so that we may never die. Seeing this, let us view our theme to learn that Jesus is not some hero that merely gets remembered, not some legend who never dies, but beyond legend who died to make sure you never die.

(we pray…)

In viewing Jesus’ legacy, we come to our text this morning found in Luke’s gospel where we see Jesus turning to Jerusalem to begin the trek towards holy week. What a legacy He’s lived up to this point! He is no mere hero, no mere legend, but beyond legend! He didn’t just preach well, but healed thousands. He had performed many miracles, racking up quite the legacy before turning to offer up this legacy for the sake of the whole world. His legacy proceeded Him, and that was clear by the large crowd which followed Him and His disciples to Jerico. The people knew Jesus, and knew what He was capable of. But did they know Him as a hero or a legend? Well, if you notice when the blind beggar on the roadside asks them what all the commotion is about, the crowd practically says, “You know Jesus of Nazareth, the guy who heals and teaches? Yeah, He’s passing by.” Seems right so far, but what really shows that they only view Him as a hero that will die in their memory banks and not the beyond legend who will live on in their hearts and minds by faith is how they respond to the beggar’s reply to the news. As the beggar rightly shouts, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” We see the difference. The crowd simply calls Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ but the beggar calls Him, ‘Jesus, Son of David.” David’s been dead for millennia at this point, so what can this possibly mean? The local Jews knew the term Son of David as a term for the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. There’s no way this beggar is calling the simple teacher the Messiah, right? He can’t be a legend, but a momentary hero. But here the beggar was, giving Jesus the title He deserved, the title that goes beyond legend. The man called Jesus the Messiah and asked Him for His mercy! Jesus has the power to heal, He is the promised One come to heal. Have mercy, please! But the crowd hearing this, “Woah, let’s not going around saying the M word! Shut up! Now!” They didn’t understand that Jesus was more than a hero, more powerful than Hercules and smarter than Aristotle. They didn’t understand that He was the Son of God, and that would show as they let the hero die. For many of this crowd no doubt shouted, “crucify Him.”

But surely there were some in the crowd that knew that Jesus was more of a legend than a hero, meaning He was more than just temporary solution towards your hunger and health. Though I am not sure how many believed in Him this way, I know of at least a few: the twelve disciples. They knew Jesus was more than a hero. They put Him more so in the legend category, as Peter would say of Christ prior to this, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” But where they faltered is the portion that says, “Legends never die…” Along the way to Jerusalem, Jesus pulls the twelve away from the massing crowd to tell them that He, the Legend, needs to die. If this Legend doesn’t die, then He is no Legend at all. Jesus is showing His disciples His mission statement. Here He takes the disciples aside from the large crowd to tell them the purpose of His coming to this earth. He gives them the plan since the foundation of the earth. He points to Jerusalem in the distance. This is where they were heading: Holy Week. This must be done that all things prophesied in the Old Testament may be done for all men. Jesus was already a legend even before He was born! He was more than just a folksy Hero to the Old Testament Jews, but was the very Messiah that gave the Jews reason to live. His legacy was already rich even before Christmas, but also the richness of His legacy lay in the fact that Isaiah and other prophets said, “He was lead like a lamb to the slaughter…” Jesus then gets more specific: “I will be delivered to Gentiles.” He will be delivered to Pilate and the Romans, to be sentenced to death. Along the way He will be ill-treated just like Isaiah said about me. He will be spat upon, mocked, and whipped. This will be hard to take in. But it must happen this way. God promised it, and He did so to save all mankind. Jesus also finished His promise by stating that He will rise from the dead three days later. This mission is certain. This is salvation. Jesus sees it in the distance. Now it just needs to happen as He has said. The Legend’s most crucial moment of His legacy was about to take place. And now, the disciples, confused as can be, don’t know what Jesus is talking about. He’d brought this up before and now He does it again. Perhaps they thought, “but He did all these great things, and taught so many profound truths, and He’s just going to die like that? No way! Legends don’t die. He can’t die. The Son of God just can’t die like that, can He?” It was as if there were a pad lock around the words that Jesus just spoke. They didn’t get it. They could not fathom the master and rabbi, though they called Him the Christ the Son of the living God, dying at the hands of Gentiles and treated in such a shameful way. But the Legend must die or else Peter’s tears and the other disciples’ flightiness would spell their ruin.

So, what about you? We have moments where we fall prey to both group’s follies. Sometimes we act like the crowd, treating Jesus as just some hero. To demonstrate, have you never once been frustrated with God before for having let something awful thing happen in your life? This frustration taken out on God, does it not put Jesus in a class of hero that only do so much and not the class He deserves, the class beyond Legend who works all things out for your good?  Or maybe in your hard life situations, you’ve asked yourself, “What would Jesus do?” An excellent question but trying to imagine you can imitate Jesus’ walk as if He is the morale of some fable, imagining that we can imitate the perfect son of God’s walk is laughable. In these ways and more, don’t we often treat Him like Jesus of Nazareth more than Jesus, Son of David?

And sometimes we act like the 12 disciples. We agree with Peter and the others that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, but how often does it seem that we forget the mission statement of Christ. And though He is our Beautiful Savior, our sinful flesh tempts us to think that we can be good enough to imitate Him, saying things like, “I hope I’m enough” and it would rather forget the that the Beautiful Savior had to be the bloody Savior because you can’t be like Him, therefore He has to save you. Yes, this legend had to die, even if you’d rather not hear about it.

But thank God that Jesus is more than the rabbi of Nazareth. Thank God that Jesus did die to save you. Thank God that Jesus is more than a hero but is a Legend who did die to take away your sins. He was Beyond Legend heading to live out the biggest moment of His legacy, His death and resurrection, as He so promised to the twelve and you. And before He goes there, Jesus comes across one character who gets it, a most unlikely character, one who had been cut down by sin’s tight grip on his eyesight. As they travelled to Jerusalem, stopping through Jerico, a blind man begging on the edge of the road sat begging for his life’s provisions. Talk about putting your worthless life in the hands of God! This guy literally did this hoping to receive at least meager provisions from the unlikely charity of the able bodied. In his day-to-day life, this man hears some people passing by from time to time, but the crowd that was rushing into Jerico with all the noise and commotion was unusual to his regular experiences. “What’s going on? What’s all the noise about?” The crowd answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth, you know the guy who heals and teaches? Yeah, He's passing by.”

And how does the blind man respond? Does he call Jesus a mere hero, calling Him Jesus of Nazareth? No, He screams, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Practically saying, “You’re no hero, your no legend, but you’re much more than these! Save Me!” And as the crowd tries to silence the annoying, insignificant cripple, what does the cripple do? Does he shut up, thinking, “guess these guys are right. This Beyond Legend isn’t for me?” No! He keeps on praying. He does not question the almighty, asking why he went blind. He does not ask Jesus for a boost to live perfectly, for he can barely live. This man has nothing to lose. Son of David, have mercy on me! He shouts over the crowd in desperate prayer. Despite all odds, He needs His Messiah, not just his hero and more than his legend. Jesus heard His prayer, and He answered. Amidst the hustle and bustle, He stops to hear this man’s request. “What would you like from Me?” The man asks, “Lord—Almighty God, the Messiah—please give me my sight back!” “Let your prayer be answered as you have asked it.” Your sight is back, in other words. And just to make sure the man didn’t go away thinking that Jesus is only a mere hero with powers, Jesus told the man why this happened: your faith has made you well. You trust in me as Beyond Legend is what will save you from sin and hell, not just a quick fix to a problem. This man’s faith clung to the Savior’s Word. Tuning out all the noise, he trusted in Christ, He trusted in His Word. His faith has made him well in the best possible way, and here he gets a glimpse of what Christ will bring completely one day. Immediately, as befits the power of Christ, the man was healed.

And so, Jesus is no mere hero, no mere Legend, but Beyond Legend. He demonstrates to us that He is the answer to our lives’ greatest troubles, instead of a place for blame. He encourages us to ask not what He would do, but ask, what has He done! Jesus, the Legend, has a legacy for a reason: to save you. He lived a perfect life for you so that you may know that when you haven’t done the same, He did it in your place. He also takes the name, Son of David, the name that transcends the title of legend, to show His mission, the show the greatest mercy. This mercy was shown by allowing Himself to be taken into custody by Gentiles. He showed mercy by letting Himself be mocked, insulted, and spat upon. They even killed Him. This Beyond Legend died, and He did for you, otherwise He wouldn’t be a legend. And so, we along with the blind man scream our confession that Jesus is the Messiah. And to validate that stand and save us and the blind man, Jesus died. The Beyond Legend died to save us, and the healing of the man’s blindness is only a glimpse of what Jesus’ death meant for us. His death meant the forgiveness of our sins and our entrance to heaven. One day, we just like blind man will die, but when we do, we will have more than just blind eyes or whatever hurts the most healed. And all this is true because, even though the Beyond Legend Jesus died, He was raised from the dead to never die again, showing that He has won. What legend do you know that has done that? No, Jesus should really be in a class in His own. He’s no mere hero, simply remembered for healing power. He’s more than a legend who never dies, for He had to die to save us all. He is Beyond Legend, having died and rose on high. And so, with the blind man and the crowd, who learned the true nature of Christ Jesus that He is more than a mere hero or even a mere legend, but the very Messiah sent to die and rise again to save us all, let us glorify God and praise Jesus, following Him to Jerusalem this Lenten season so that we may learn further what it means that the Beyond Legend has died for us, and let us follow Jesus past the greatest line spoken during His legacy, “It is finished” to see Him vindicated in His title that goes Beyond Legend, risen from the dead to show you that you are saved. So remember: Heroes get remembered, Legends never die, and Jesus died and rose on high all to save you.