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Saturday, August 09, 2014


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Matthew 20.29-34

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 31The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ 32Jesus stood still and called them, saying, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ 33They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ 34Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

This past week, 14 of us traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the purpose of engaging in community service. This particular passage was read one morning before we embarked on our service projects

(either sorting canned goods for a food bank, or creating art at a pottery and glass studio to give residents at a local nursing home).

We sat together, back to back, focused on our collective breath, feeling our ribs rise and fall as we inhaled, then exhaled. Our eyes closed as the story of Jesus healing two people was read aloud, as we listened for words and phrases that jumped out at us. This is what stuck out:

“passing by…”
“Moved with compassion…”
“stood still…”
“followed him…”

Take a minute to read it again…

This story that involves a lots of ‘doing’ on the part of Jesus. Notice all these verbs:

Left—Jesus had to leave Jericho in order for this miracle to happen.
Stop—despite being on the move, Jesus took time to stop and notice those who were being pushed to the side by the crowds
Ask—despite the crowd’s attempt to silence these two, Jesus engaged them with questions, and wanted to know their story
Loved—in a very human moment, Jesus responds with compassion, and the one who came to serve and not to serve, further exemplifies how to care for the least of these
Touched—as if listening to these outcasts wasn’t radical enough, Jesus moves towards them and touches them, giving them what they asked.
One student on the trip commented that Jesus seems to move a lot; that, despite the adamancy of the crowd, Jesus was able to hear the cries of the blind men and focused entirely on them. [He/she] observed that one of the most notable characteristics of this story is how much Jesus actually touched people.

Jesus touched people, meeting them where they were. That is the good news, isn’t it? Throughout his ministry, Jesus wanted people to be themselves, and responded to the cries, needs, and realities of those around him in kind. Ultimately, the gospel of Christ is concern for the whole person. When confronted with the needs of others, Jesus didn’t check their prerequisites, or mandate “good behavior” before their needs could be met. Instead, Jesus fed and healed people, meeting them where they were, even when the crowd said “don’t”. Jesus teaches us this: that good news to a hungry person is not only bread, and to the blind person is not only sight, but being seen themselves as valuable human beings.

It is one thing to intellectually teach the foundation of our faith; it is quite another to allow ourselves (and in this case, our children) to live out this faith and express it through gifts and acts of service. What 14 of us did in Madison was mimic the actions of Christ in the context of this passage: bringing the good news of God’s beloved community by engaging people in a way that showed the hope and beauty that exists in a world. In this way, we can all, together, here and now, enjoy that renewal of creation, which is God’s ultimate purpose.

And so, like the blind men who followed Jesus after being healed, those who served and those who were served became peers, jointly sharing in the ongoing transformation of God’s reign in the world.

And that was truly a sight to see.

[Adam Quine, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln]



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