May our thoughts, words, and deeds always glorify the Lord and be pleasing in His sight.
Anyone who has browsed the pages of the Bible, spent time in Church, or even a little time in Sunday school as a child will know that the Gospels are filled with examples of Christ as a miracle worker. Today’s reading is no exception to this.
The passage begins with Jesus traveling through Jericho with a crowd surrounding him. I can imagine that having a crowd following you would make moving through any space difficult. I can imagine the noise that the crowd would be making as they talk amongst themselves, call out to the Lord, or maybe even throw abuse or slurs at this upstart “prophet”. After struggling through Jericho Jesus finally makes it to the edge and as he leaves a lone voice starts crying out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.”
The voice was that of a blind beggar, one who I feel the people would be used to seeing out on their streets calling out for alms and assistance. I wonder of the people of Jericho were disposed to helping the poor and the weak with their needs? I would like to think that the godly Israelites would, but sadly there were those who were following in the crowd who were not so disposed. Instead of drawing the blind man to the attention of the Saviour they told him to be quiet. I wonder why this was? The scriptures give us no indication of the reason but it left me thinking as I pondered this reading.
If we were confronted by the same situation what would our reaction be? Would we be in such a hurry to sweep our destitute under the rug, hiding them from the famous and influential as they pass through our town or would we point out their plight and their needs? Just lately I was having a conversation with someone and a topic like this came up. It’s startling and surprising to me sometimes the attitudes of those who claim to follow Christ towards those who are different. Have you ever been in a Church and see someone enter the building who doesn’t seem to fit? Maybe someone who is obviously down on their luck, the homeless, the sick, the immigrant? How do people react? I’ve seen first-hand the negative reactions, the lack of care, and the almost physical isolation that can happen and I am always perplexed at working out why this behaviour exists.
I can’t profess to being able to see into the hearts of people and understand their motivation, however one possible reason always stands out to me. It’s easy (as imperfect humans) after the first flush of zeal when we become Christians, to fall into that comfortable place where we feel that we are what it means to be a Christian. I have seen it happen and seen good people begin to think of themselves as the best (sometimes only) example of what it is to be Godly. I’ve heard people say thing like “I would never go to X as the people there are too worldly”, “I wouldn’t hang around with people who do X, that’s a sin”; it may be all well and good to not want to be of the world but let me tell you this, those people are not acting like Christ.
In the time of Jesus there were many who were considered to be outside the bounds of acceptable religious society and so were shunned; the tax collector, the publican, the prostitute, the sick, the beggars and many more. To spend your time around these people was to well and truly place yourself outside of “polite religious society”…who did Jesus spend his time with? Jesus spent his time with those that society shunned, to those who were in need of healing and love. Would we call Jesus worldly or less of a Christian for doing so? Absolutely not!!
When he heard the blind man calling out he ignored those rebuking the blind man and chose to speak to him, and more than that he chose to declare him healed through his faith. This the attitude each and every one of us needs to take in our daily walk. Regardless of how uncomfortable it may make us feel we need to look upon all as our brothers and sisters and as being worthy of love and care. If we choose to stay away from those who don’t conform to our version of “normal” or “acceptable” we may be missing out on some of the greatest opportunities of our lives. We may miss out on the opportunity to touch the soul of someone who is yearning for love and care; we may miss changing the lives of others through the love of Christ; above all, we may miss out on transforming ourselves and obtaining the blessing of salvation by conforming to the example of Christ.
I want to challenge us all, in this next week, to go outside of our comfort zone, to seek out those who we may normally avoid and to show them the love that only comes through a life conformed to Christ. Speak to the veteran on the street and be a listening ear, take an extra sandwich to work and share it with someone who’s hungry, welcome a stranger at Church or a social gathering and make them feel welcome. Through all of these actions we are being Christ present in the world; after all, the scriptures say, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these …you did it to me.’
Let us pray:
Almighty Father, we thank you for the many miracles that have been performed through your wondrous power. We ask that throughout this week we may be placed under the influence of that great power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so we may work with a dedicated heart to become conformed to the image of Christ. May we and all those with the means to help the rejected and ignored be touched by you and together work to make this world a better place. We ask and pray this in and through the name of our beloved saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.