Luke 18: 35 As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” 42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” 43 Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
In this gospel account, we see a blind man who actually sees the truth better than those around him. The crowds surrounding Jesus are drawn in by curiosity and the excitement of celebrity. But the blind man (named as Bartimaeus in the parallel account given in Mark 10) is vulnerable and desperate, boldly willing to cry out for mercy.
We live in a country now where the federal government wants to silence the suffering, telling them to "go back to your country where you belong" rather than welcome and comfort them in their pain and loss. But here we see Jesus stopping and listening. He does not order the blind man to be quiet, as those do around him. He stops and asks what he can do.
In Philippians 2:5 we are told "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." May we not slam the door on those who need and want mercy, regardless of where they come from. May we do that not out of political affiliation or human pity; rather, may we simply do what our Lord would do. This is not complicated!
And let us not forget that once our friend Bartimaeus received his sight, he saw Jesus in his fullness and "followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God." The American church wonders why her numbers are in decline... we would do well to go back to the gospels and be reminded what we are called to do. If we call ourselves Christ-followers, we must live as Jesus did, with loving, welcoming, merciful arms wide open.
On October 31, 2017 we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Luther's posting of the 95 Theses, which rocked the church, and soon, the world. Join me in praying for a new reformation, where the church gets back on the path toward the kingdom of God rather than empire. I believe God will grant this prayer if our eyes our open and looking for it.