Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
For the third and last time, Jesus spells out to the disciples what they can expect when they reach Jerusalem. He speaks with a deep sense of commitment. It is almost as if he himself were the suffering servant evoked by the prophet Isaiah. He could scarcely be more explicit. He must be crucified before he is glorified as the risen Christ. But the disciples cannot understand. What Jesus says to them will not make sense till after the resurrection. For the moment, uncomprehending, they fade into the background. And now we have a glimpse of the fulfilment of God’s purposes. As Jesus carries on to Jericho, he passes a wayside beggar. We don’t know the man’s name. He is blind. He is aware of a throng of people going by, senses that something is up, hears someone says: “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by”. The solemnity of the moment is not lost on him. In a flash of revelation, he cries out to Jesus, hails him as Son of David, and asks not for alms, but for mercy. This is the time he has been waiting for, the time when a Davidic king would bring healing to the blind, the lame and the deaf. Again and again, the blind man calls out. Jesus stops, commands bystanders to bring the man forward, and restores his sight with a word. It is a sign. Through Jesus Christ, God is bringing healing, joy and hope to the world. And the man? he follows Jesus, glorifying God, and all the people sing Hosanna!
As we followers of our risen Lord sit with the beggar, in a world mired in suffering and sin, are we not called to live and speak in such a way as to bring ever nearer God’s rule of righteousness and peace? And are we not also called to rejoice at signs of the fulfilment of our hopes?
Ever living and ever loving God, Give me grace so to follow in the steps of Jesus that I may see all things in the light of your purposes. So may I rejoice today in your worship and find gladness in singing your praises. Amen
The Rev’d Fleur Houston is a retired minister and member of Macclesfield and Bollington URC
St. Andrew's United Reformed Church - The United Reformed Church in Monkseaton and Whitley Bay
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