What Do You Want From Me?

Luke 18:35-43 presents us with a beautiful homily from which many lessons can be learnt. Let’s dive in.

Luke 18:35 tells us that the man was blind. He was not an affluent blind man. He was a poor blind man, and as such, had to resort to the lowly, humiliating role of a beggar. He was begging for money and/or for food, no doubt because he was unable to find gainful employment.  He had settled for what he could get; was content to survive, and no longer made any effort to thrive.

But he knew that he was worth more than what his present status determined. And though latent, there was that deep simmering longing to overcome his challenges and rise to his full potential. He had heard about Jesus of Nazareth before. Jesus had interested him, and in his blind condition he had done enough research to discover what many of the Pharisees with both eyes wide open could not see. Jesus of Nazareth was merely a description of his place of birth, and not in the least bit significant.  But this blind man’s research had convinced him that Jesus was the Son of David. This was His Messianic description. This title “Son of David” spoke to who Jesus was. And if the Messiah, then the Son of God. His circumstances up to this point did not allow him to go and look for Jesus… but when he heard that Jesus was passing by, the latent fire of desire to receive his sight and reverse his circumstances instantly ignited and burst into an uncontrollable flame that galvanized the attention of all around.

The blind man, gave Jesus His rightful title and cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” It was now or never… do or die… and he would rather die, than fail to try. And almost predictably, those who are not seized with a desire for their own blessings will always try to stand in the way of those who pursue theirs. Not unlike the Disciples who hindered the children from coming to Jesus until they were rebuked by Jesus Himself, the “ranking” members of the procession rebuked the blind man for disturbing the peace. But they did not know what it meant to be blind and unable to see the sunset and the beautiful leaves on the trees. They did not know what it meant to be abandoned to the perpetual darkness of social irrelevance because of a paralyzing handicap called blindness. But he did. And no power on earth or force from hell was going to stand between him and his blessing. His sight is all he really ever wanted.  He accepted alms from passersby who he knew could not give him the sight he wanted. But now that Jesus Son of David who could give him his sight was passing by, his motivation and determination to attract His attention could not be greater.

Jesus is not deaf. He can hear the silent cry of the dumb who cannot speak, much less hear the shrill shrieks of the blind who are desperate to see. But there was more to his cry than just acknowledging the deity of Jesus. He also acknowledged his pathetic state of need and the relationship between the one in need and the One that has no need. His cry was for mercy, and in that cry he communicated to Jesus that he had no status from which to make any demands. Unlike the Pharisees who figured that by their half-baked attempts at keeping the law they could impress God with their hypocrisy, this man knew that he had nothing with which to negotiate with Jesus for his sight. He knew that in the presence of God, his only request, validated by his condition, could be a plea for mercy… God’s mercy. It was the combination of his demonstration that he knew who Jesus was on the one hand, and who he was, on the other hand, that arrested the attention of Jesus – not the loudness of his shouts.

Now let us be reasonable. Everybody knew that this man was blind, and so did Jesus. If a blind man who had become accustomed to begging makes a commotion and pleads with Jesus to have mercy on him, it is reasonable to conclude that what he wanted was his sight. Additionally, Jesus who knows all things, knew that sight is what the man wanted. And yet we read in Luke 18:40 that Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

In that question of Jesus we find the thinly veiled clue to one of the reasons for lack among Believers in Jesus. In James 4:2 we read, “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”  In Matthew 7:7-8 we are admonished to ask, as a prerequisite for receiving. Already this blind beggar had made a general request, and a repeatedly louder and louder one at that. Now Jesus was telling him that he had gotten His attention, generally speaking. What was his specific request? What is it, the absence of which, and the desire for which consumed his every waking and sleeping moments. There is power in the tongue, and nowhere do we see this power greater demonstrated than in the miracle of conversion. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) Jesus who already knew what the man wanted, deliberately placed him in a position where he had to declare it with his mouth.

It is not every day that someone with vast resources gives us a blank check and tells us to fill in the amount. This is what happened this day, and the blind beggar knew exactly what to write on that blank check. “Lord, I want to see!” (Luke 18:40) During a heated, healthy discussion with my 103-year-old mother over this passage, we agreed that the blind man did not add the words, “if the Lord will”, or “nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done”. Neither did he suggest or imply anything short of urgency in his request.  He wanted his sight, and he wanted it now- immediately. Jesus responded to the urgency of the request and sovereignly respected it by healing the man instantly. He did not say… go and wash… He did not stoop down and make a paste from the dirt on the road… He did not say go and show yourself to the priests…, all of which He could have done. Instead, on this occasion, Jesus chose to instantly heal the man.

The miracle of Divine healing will all ways be a mystery, but one for which we have many clues. Here Jesus declared that it was the man’s faith that had healed him. We are told that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and in the same chapter we celebrate the lives of many whose claim to fame is that they lived by faith. Hebrews 11:6 also tells us that, “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  Without discussing the Theology of healing, in this context I will simply reiterate what Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” There is no magic in “faith”, which means nothing more than “belief”. The “magic” is in whom you believe and whether or not you are willing and ready to act on that belief.

We end with a typical demonstration of crowd psychology, and a warning that we must never be led by crowds or intimidated by them. Luke 18:43 tells us that immediately the healed man began following Jesus and praising Him. And then, the same people, or at least some of them, who would have blocked the man’s miracle in the first place, began praising God after the man received his miracle. Who does not like a good ending to a great story… and if ever there was one, this was one. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, we must ignore whatever men might say. For we know in whom we believe and are persuaded that He is able and willing and capable to keep us and that which we have committed to Him until He takes us to be with Himself forever.

Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org

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