Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quinquagesima: A Devotional Commentary

Luke 18:31-43 He took the Twelve aside, and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be fulfilled. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, mistreated, and spit upon. Having flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day, he will rise again.” However, they understood none of these things. What Jesus was saying was concealed from them, and they did not understand the things that were said. As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the road, begging. Hearing a crowd going by, he asked what this meant. People told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He began to cry out, “Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!” Then, those who led the way rebuked him, ordering him to be quiet. But the blind man cried out all the more, “You son of David, have mercy on me!” Standing still, Jesus commanded that the blind man be brought to him. When the man had come near, Jesus asked him, ”What do you want me to do?” The man replied, “Lord, that I may see again!” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight. Your faith has healed you.” Immediately, the man received his sight and began to follow Jesus, glorifying God. When all the people saw this, they praised God.

If you were on this same road on the way to Jericho at around the same time that this event took place and you had the opportunity to ask someone other than Jesus about Jesus and what He came to do, who would you choose? Wouldn't you pick out one of the disciples to ask--maybe Peter? You certainly wouldn't waste your time talking with the blind guy on the side of the road. But who really had a better understanding of Jesus?

The disciples were with Jesus every day and in this passage Jesus tells them exactly what is going to happen. Jesus says that He will be beaten, mocked, killed, and then rise again. But the disciples have absolutely no idea what He is talking about. They probably think Jesus is telling some parable or speaking figuratively. Maybe they thought that Jesus would face some unpopularity and suffer an emotional flogging and that they would kill His career but that later on His popularity would rise again and He would start setting up His earthly kingdom. Even after Jesus was physically crucified His disciples did not expect His physical resurrection. Maybe they thought He would just live on in their hearts. The simple and plain interpretation of what Jesus said was disregarded because it was the exact opposite of what they thought a Messiah should do. Although the disciples had physical sight they were blind. The disciples thought they could see. They thought they knew what the Messiah would be like. They didn't understand exactly what Jesus meant at this very moment but they knew it fit their idea of Messiah somehow.

So Jesus is leading His blind disciples on the road of catechesis on the road to Jericho and He passes by a blind man who is begging by the side of the road, sitting just outside the traveling catechism class. The blind man asks what is going on and is told that Jesus is passing by. The blind man cries out saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me." The blind man has been given the eyes of faith to know that this is the promised miracle working Messiah. He knows the promises of the Old Testament--that the Messiah would restore sight to the blind. The blind man believes that restoring sight to the blind really means restoring sight to the blind.

But the catechism students think that the blind guy is just looking for a handout and tell him to shut-up--showing their own blindness to the merciful Messiah. But the man doesn't shut-up, he keeps calling out louder and louder. Jesus is merciful and commands His catechism students to bring this man before Him. Jesus knows what the man wants but gives the blind man an opportunity to confess his faith by asking him what he wants. The blind man confesses his faith in Jesus by asking Jesus to restore his sight. He knows that Jesus can do this. Jesus does restore his sight and absolves him of his sins. Then the beggar formerly known as blind joins the travelling catechism class and praises God.

The blind man probably had very little knowledge of Jesus. But he trusted Jesus and he knew something about himself. He wasn't running about pretending he could see. He knew he was blind. He knew that he could do nothing to save himself. He knew that only Jesus could save him.

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