Our faith must be persistent. Our faith must be desperate. Our faith must be immediate. We must know what it is that God wants us to do in the world. Our faith comes before our theology.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd. Now Jericho is about about 15 miles outside of Jerusalem. And at this point, Jesus is coming to the end of that three years that he has been out in the world performing miracles, teaching people about his Father, telling people who he is and what is to come. And Jesus is now on that final path, that final walk to Jerusalem. And of course, during this time, people have seen and heard Jesus and the miracles that he is performing.
And so as he walks through Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, it’s no surprise that a large crowd has gathered around him. Who is this man? Who is this teacher? Who is this person that is performing these miracles? Who is teaching us these things that we have never been taught before, of love, of life and of God. And so people clamour to see him. And of course, it was the responsibility of every Jewish male over the age of twelve to go to the temple for the Passover.
That’s where everyone was going. And of course, in reality, that couldn’t practically happen. And so what used to happen was that in the towns around Jerusalem, they would fill up places like Jericho. And as the teachers and their disciples walked into Jerusalem, they would gather around them to hear what the teachers had to say. We know that Jesus was special. And the people were starting to realise that Jesus was special. This is not long before that triumphal entry on a donkey with palm leaves. So people know something is up.
People know something special is happening. And it’s one of the clearest pictures of the Gospel in my mind, Jesus walking down a dusty road with the city of Jericho behind him and rising above him, the mountain that takes him to Jerusalem, surrounded by his disciples and you know what groups of people are like when there is somebody with power and authority, they gather around them true disciples, but they also gather around them those people on the edge who like to think that they control access to the person with power and authority.
And there are several examples in the gospel where people are stopped coming to Jesus by those in that outer circle. And this story is no different. Jesus is walking through he’s surrounded by a large crowd. And this blind man, this beggar, this dirty, stinking example of a human being calls out to Jesus, “Son of David. Jesus have pity on me”. And what do the people around Jesus, what do the people who proclaim to say that they are followers of Jesus, and they have faith, what do they say to this poor, dirty man?
“Shush, go away. You’re not important. Go away, Shush”. They probably use more colourful language than that. And how many of you recognise Christians in the world behaving in exactly that way when somebody on the street when somebody on the floor calls out, “Jesus have pity on me”. And so called Christians say, “shush, go away”. But look what happens to those Christians. Look what happens when Jesus notices the man and says, “Call him here”. They instantly change. Their reaction instantly instantly switches. They called him up. “Courage!”
They get him up. “He’s calling to you”. Now that is hypocritical. In the extreme, where is their faith when that man was not recognised? Wasn’t seen, was calling out to Jesus, when he was dirty and in the gutter? Where were they then? They were shushing him and throwing him away. But the moment he was recognised by Jesus “courage, stand up”. It’s a hard lesson for us to hear, but it’s one that we need to hear.
Jesus comes to him. Jesus spoke. “What do you want me to do?”
The blind man says, My sight, Jesus, my sight. And Jesus reaches out and he heals him. What happens then? What happens when Jesus heals him? He says, “Your faith has healed you”. But the man doesn’t go away. He follows Jesus. The man who is touched by Jesus doesn’t say thank you very much and off he trots, he turns and follows Jesus.
So what happened in that tiny? It’s one verse in the gospel. What happens in that interaction between Jesus and the blind man?
Well, first of all, the blind man’s faith is persistent and it is desperate.
“Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me!” It is desperate and it is persistent. Even though people are telling him to be quiet and to shut up and to go away. You’re not important enough to come near to this great master, even though people are saying that to him, he doesn’t stop. “Jesus have pity on me”. His faith is persistent and it is desperate.
His faith is immediate. Not only does he persist in following Jesus and calling out to Jesus, despite people putting him down, he gets up and he goes to Jesus.
He doesn’t just sit there and take the word of the people that are around Jesus, he goes to Jesus.
His faith is desperate. His faith is persistent. His faith is immediate.
And when he comes to Jesus, when he stands in front of Jesus and Jesus says to him, what do you want? He knows what he wants. His sight. He knows what he wants. He’s thought about it. He’s prayed on it. He’s considered it. It goes back to the teaching over the last few weeks where I’ve been asking you to consider God’s call in your life and what he is calling you to do when you fall on your knees in front of Jesus… What is it that he is calling you to do? What is it that you want from Jesus? Is it strength to face a difficult situation? Is it humility to hear the call of God in your life?
His faith was persistent. His faith was desperate. His faith was immediate, and he knew what it was he needed from Jesus.
Now his theology. Well, his theology is pretty bad. What does he call Jesus, son of David? Even at that point, he is thinking of Jesus as the King, not as the one sent to die on the cross for us, his faith is a faith that’s based in the real world. It’s a faith of what he sees in front of him and how he works with Jesus. His faith comes before his theology.
It comes before his thinking. His faith comes first.
His faith is persistent. It is desperate. It is immediate. He knew what he wanted from Jesus. And his faith is the first thing that he considers.
And, of course, that in this tiny little gospel, this tiny little reading sums up what it is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Because that’s exactly what this blind man became. After this interaction with Jesus, he got his sight back. He could have gone anywhere he wanted in the world. He could have done anything he wanted to do.
He could have taken revenge on those people who were unkind to him. He could have done anything. The world was his oyster. But what did he do?
He followed Jesus. This short gospel teaches each and every one of us what it is and how it is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Our faith. Our faith must be persistent. Our faith must be desperate. Our faith must be immediate. We must know what it is that God wants us to do in the world. Our faith comes before our theology.
And then, and then, when we fall on our knees in front of Jesus and he touches our hearts. Then we are sent out in his name as a disciple, following him. In all that we do, we are all worthless human beings in the gutter of life. But all of us can raise our hand and shout, “Jesus have pity on me!” And in that moment, Jesus will reach back will take you by the hand and will show you what it is to follow him.