Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 18: 35-43 (MsgB)
He (Jesus) came to the outskirts of Jericho. A blind man was sitting beside the road asking for handouts. When he heard the rustle of the crowd, he asked what was going on. They told him, “Jesus the Nazarene is going by.” He yelled, “Jesus! Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Those ahead of Jesus told the man to shut up, but he only yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered him to be brought over. When he had come near, Jesus asked, “What do you want from Me?” He said, “Master, I want to see again.” Jesus said, “Go ahead—see again! Your faith has saved and healed you!” The healing was instant: he looked up, seeing—and then followed Jesus, glorifying God. Everyone in the street joined in, shouting praise to God.
As Jesus walks the dusty streets of Israel, people’s lives are being impacted in big ways.
John, the gospel writer, tells us that there are so many people stories, there just isn’t enough paper in the world to write them all down (John 21: 25). So Luke, here in his gospel, decides to tell us just a couple of neat examples where meeting Jesus changes everything. It’s too bad the church fathers in the middle ages decided to break up these two stories by putting them in different chapters, but don’t let that confuse you.
Today and tomorrow, let’s look at Luke’s intriguing stories about two men and their life-changing encounters with Jesus of Nazareth. Let’s start today with one blind man who just won’t be denied.
Don’t you admire this guy’s chutzpah?
Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. You’ve heard that He’s an amazing dude. Healer of the sick. Deliverer of demonized persons. Miracle worker extraordinaire.
You’re blind. You can’t see a thing. But you can hear. And what you hear is the bustling crowd around you. The buzz on the streets is that Jesus the Nazarene is drawing near.
In one split second, our blind friend knows exactly what to do.
It’s something we all learn to do when we are very young. My one-year-old grandson didn’t have to be taught this life skill at all. He knows it very well with no help from anyone else.
We yell. We cry out. We make a scene. We start a commotion. A real rhubarb. We draw attention to ourselves. We cause an intentional stir. We pull out all the stops. Damn the torpedoes. Damn what’s politically correct. Damn it all. Full speed ahead. We yell.
This blind man is not going to miss his one opportunity for a total life make-over by sitting quietly in the crowd, following Robert’s Rules of Order. No social skills today, thank you. I’m blind. The healer of blind people is coming by. I’m pushing myself up to the front of the line. Excuse me, sir, you’re blocking my way.
Like in most social settings, there are self-appointed doctrinal police who try to keep this situation from getting out of hand. They turn to our blind friend and try to subdue him before this little outburst becomes a big ‘situation’. But this fellow will have none of it. He not only ignores their suggestions to pipe down, but he also yells out all the louder.
For those of us who are introverts by nature, this kind of outburst is quite embarrassing. I can just see the city council members and Better Business Bureau associates of the fair city of Jericho turning red from anger. Here Jesus, the famous rabbi, is coming into our town. All of Jericho’s elite are gathered to greet this fine young teacher with a growing reputation. The paparazzi and Jesus’ entourage surround Him as He enters the city gates. Everything is going as planned. And then suddenly, out of left field, comes this blind guy with the big mouth, interrupting the proceedings, messing up the entire schedule.
It’s this chutzpah I believe Jesus sees when He states to our blind friend, “Your faith has saved and healed you.”
Now, to be honest, I really don’t think Jesus was trying to set up a doctrine of faith healing here when He says what He does. I think it unfortunate that so many folks have taken Jesus’ comment and formed it into a ‘name-it-claim-it’ doctrinal statement that we must use in our lives in order to get Jesus to do something for us. In fact, I believe just the opposite is true.
As I see it, Jesus has no intention of setting up any healing formulas in this encounter with our blind friend. If you look carefully at the healing ministry of Jesus, you’ll find that Jesus heals and delivers people in so many different and creative ways, there is no rhyme or reason to how He does it. As one who has determined to enter into Jesus’ healing ministry in my lifetime, I know full well that cut-and-dried formulas just don’t work when it comes to healing and deliverance.
For me, the only thing that matters in this story is the fact that it’s Jesus who does the healing and deliverance. And from my seat on the bench, I believe Jesus is simply pointing out the amazing persistence of one ordinary man who just won’t be denied his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be standing next to Jesus. If there’s any life-lesson in this story for us at all, it’s this:
When you’re standing next to Jesus, good things happen. So whatever the cost, get yourself next to Jesus!
So like this blind man who causes the great stir this one day, I say, don’t let anyone or anything stand in the way between you and Jesus. Make a beeline toward Him ASAP. Regardless of our need, He’s the ultimate source for any need you and I might ever have. Forget these formulas that say the answer lies in our great faith. The key to this man’s healing, and ours as well, is an outlandish hunger to be found standing next to Jesus.
My prayer: Jesus, You are the source of all healing and deliverance. May I be like this blind man who knows that only one thing matters when it comes to life’s needs. May I not be shy, reserved or put off by anything or anyone when it comes to me standing next to You. My life, my hope, my future all depends on You. Let nothing of this world stand in my way when it comes to standing in Your Kingdom rule and reign. For Your name’s sake.
My questions to ponder: How have I taken this story of the blind man and made it into a doctrinal formula for healing versus simply seeing it as a prime example where one needy man just won’t be held back from being around Jesus? What would this kind of hunger and persistence look like in my life when it comes to focusing all my life and hope on Jesus alone?
So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?
Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use.
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