is our last stop before the Triumphal Entry and the last week of Christ’s
ministry. Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem – but even such
determination gives way to compassion.
29 As Jesus
and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him.
30 Two blind men were sitting by the
roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted,
"Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to
be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have
mercy on us!"
32 Jesus stopped and called them. "What
do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
33 "Lord," they answered, "we
want our sight."
34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched
their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
46 Then they
came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd,
were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus),
was sitting by the roadside begging.
47 When he heard that it was Jesus of
Nazareth, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be
quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on
49 Jesus stopped and said, "Call
him." So they called to the blind man, "Cheer up! On your feet!
He's calling you."
50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to
his feet and came to Jesus.
51 "What do you want me to do for
you?" Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, "Rabbi, I want to see."
52 "Go," said Jesus, "your
faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed
Jesus along the road.
35 As Jesus
approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.
36 When he heard the crowd going by, he
asked what was happening.
37 They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is
38 He called out, "Jesus, Son of David,
have mercy on me!"
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and
told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have
mercy on me!"
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be
brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,
41 "What do you want me to do for
"Lord, I want to see," he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, "Receive your
sight; your faith has healed you."
43 Immediately he received his sight and
followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised
players in this little drama will provide us with food for thought.
crowd, emblematic of the world at large, shows the reaction of fickle man to
the power of grace:
are not expecting Jesus to do anything – just talk. Talk seems so
much less threatening.
first reaction is to put the beggar in his place – and keep him there.
The blind are beggars, and thus are as annoying in that day as
telemarketers are in ours.
when Christ speaks, the crowd receives its direction. They encourage the
man to get up and come towards him.
is a lesson in persistence here. As Chrysostom put it, “Christ suffered them
to be forbidden, that their desire might be the more evidenced. Hence we learn
that though we be repulsed, yet if we come to God with earnestness, of
ourselves, we shall obtain that we ask.”
reader will note the various discrepancies in the three accounts; one of these
is the number and name of blind man/men.) The man is rather straightforward;
we may learn from this.
doesn’t ask forgiveness of his sins, whatever those might be. He asks
pity; he asks mercy. Jesus does not correct his theology, but obliges.
the crowd encourages him – once the Master calls for him.
please, that he throws off his cloak – the only thing he has to keep
himself warm (Jericho has a climate much like our desert, which gets very
cold at night). It’s a risky thing to do – but he takes the risk. It’s a
sign of boldness.
towards the Lord yields bountiful results. Bountiful results should produce
gratitude. So this man is an example to us.
this short drama Jesus reveals his character to us.
are told that Jesus stopped. Why? It is an act of courtesy to a lowly
member of society. The area near Jericho is much like the fire trails of
Southern California – a blind man who leaves the path even slightly risks
falling into a deep crevasse. Jesus stands still so that the man might
find him safely.
heals him – and then credits his faith. This is as it should be; for God
is eternal. It is our faith that changes, and with it our results.
Indeed as faith changes, so does our spiritual sight as well.
ends this section sweetly. He tells us that these men
did so praising God.
the crowd follows their example by praising God as well.
Luk 19:1-10 NIV
entered Jericho and was passing through. (2)
A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was
wealthy. (3) He wanted to see who Jesus was,
but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. (4) So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree
to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. (5)
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus,
come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." (6) So he came down at once and welcomed him
gladly. (7) All the people saw this and began
to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a 'sinner.' " (8) But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,
"Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and
if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the
amount." (9) Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son
of Abraham. (10) For the Son of Man came to
seek and to save what was lost."
might do well to look at the character of Zaccheus:
see him first as the outcast. Because of his profession no decent
Jew would have anything to do with him. Those who have been the outcast
know the resentment and loneliness this brings. We also know how the
church doesn’t exactly forbid us to join – but there’s no invitation
we see him also as the seeker. He has money; he has power but he
doesn’t have the sweetness of life he wants. Perhaps he has chased being
respectable, but never caught it. Perhaps God kept him from that so that
he might find the real thing in Christ.
he is the repentant sinner. At bottom, he is like the rest of us,
sinners all. Perhaps being the outcast gave him the courage to act
against propriety – in concert with God. This man put his money where his
crowd, however, much resembles the modern church in middle class circles.
mistake propriety for righteousness. Propriety tells us to wear a tie to
church (or, at Eastside, to wear anything but a tie to church.) Like it
or not, those who dress differently are treated differently. We accept
those who are like us, and reject those who are not.
are swift to pass judgment on those who are outside. We forget that we
are not to judge those outside the church.
we know that what we are doing is not quite right – so we mutter it under
our breath. Perhaps we hope Christ won’t hear, and the rest of us will.
it seems, has a different set of priorities. He begins by inviting himself to
dinner. Remember that in those days it was an honor to have your home chosen
as an ad-hoc hotel by visiting dignitaries. More to the point – he tells
Zaccheus that he must come down immediately – the sign that Christ
thinks the matter not only important but urgent. Evidently it was, for
Zacchaeus comes to repentance – and restitution. His promise to return exceeds
the Old Testament Law. No wonder that Christ announces salvation; a sinner has
cannot help but make the contrast between Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler.
Being a sinner in need of repentance tends to motivate change a lot more
quickly than being a righteous man in need of taking up the cross.
Luk 19:11-27 NIV
While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because
he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going
to appear at once. (12) He said: "A man
of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and
then to return. (13) So he called ten of his
servants and gave them ten minas.'Put
this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.' (14)
"But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We
don't want this man to be our king.' (15)
"He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the
servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had
gained with it. (16) "The first one came
and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' (17)
" 'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been
trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' (18) "The second came and said, 'Sir, your mina
has earned five more.' (19) "His master
answered, 'You take charge of five cities.' (20)
"Then another servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your mina; I have kept
it laid away in a piece of cloth. (21) I was
afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in
and reap what you did not sow.' (22)
"His master replied, 'I will judge you by your own words, you wicked
servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put
in, and reaping what I did not sow? (23) Why
then didn't you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have
collected it with interest?' (24) "Then
he said to those standing by, 'Take his mina away from him and give it to the
one who has ten minas.' (25) " 'Sir,'
they said, 'he already has ten!' (26)
"He replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but
as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. (27) But those enemies of mine who did not want me
to be king over them--bring them here and kill them in front of me."
need a bit of background here. All the Jews of this time would recognize the
man who went away to be named a king. It’s Herod the Great (the Herod at the
time of the birth of Christ, who slaughtered the innocents.) The story sounds
a little strange until you understand the Roman system. They liked to put some
puppet royalty in charge – with the clear understanding that Rome wanted
tranquility and tax revenues. Herod was just such a man, who went to Rome to
be crowned King of the Jews.
Jews were not that fond of Herod (or his dynasty). Besides the fact that Herod
and his descendants were paranoid rulers, always suspecting someone else of
doing just what they would do. Herod was not even a Jew! He was an Idumean, an
Edomite, a descendant of Esau. Christ’s audience would have known just what
this was about.
of the kingdom
is no secret that the servants of God are not at all equal in their abilities.
And, just as you would expect, God does not impose equal responsibility on
them, but rather gives out authority (from responsibility) in proportion to
their abilities. We see three such here:
are the highly capable. Of them, God expects much.
are those of us who are modestly capable – God expects us to have the same
attitude as the stars of the church, but also to recognize that his burden
on us is in proportion to what we can do.
are those of us who are of little capability – to whom he entrusts but
little. But distinguish little capability from poor attitude, please.
Sometimes, our attitude determines our capability.
Christ makes clear, at his return he will reward all in accordance with their
those who are good and faithful he will give rewards completely out of
proportion to our deserving them – but in proportion to what we did.
those who aren’t, they just manage to make it into the kingdom.
for those who oppose the kingdom of God, pain and eternal death.
not easy to make it any clearer than this. He understands the way we work; he
knows we need to be rewarded. So reward us he will.
did Jesus tell this parable, right before the Triumphal Entry? These people
thought his kingdom was to come immediately, a kingdom founded on military
might that would overthrow Roman rule and reestablish David’s throne. Looking
back, it now seems foolishness.
consider: we have any number of Bible interpreters who “know” that Christ must
return in or before the year 2018. Perhaps he will; I do not know. But so
many are so convinced that we might want to take warning from this passage. He
never does tell us when; he just tells us it’s worth waiting for.