Jesus Warns of His Death, Heals a Blind Man
[Luke chapter 18, verses 31-42]
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Last week when we concluded part 2 of Luke chapter 18, we left off where Jesus had instructed his apostles and the many others who were within earshot of our Lord and Savior, “No one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much, both in this age, and the age to come, eternal life.” (Luke 18: 29-30) Today as we take up where we left off, we are still in the same time and place as last week, but evidently just a few minutes later, or perhaps even immediately afterward – the Bible does not specify. So let’s all take up where we left off, beginning at verse 31.
“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.’ The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.” (Luke 18, verses 31-34)
In this passage of scripture, Jesus is plainly predicting his own demise, but the apostles thought Jesus was talking about some unknown third party, or something like that. Also, in this context, this conversation was taking place when Jesus and the Twelve were on the road between Samaria and Galilee (see chapter 17 verse 11). This means Jesus and the Twelve were en-route from Capernaum or thereabouts south to Jerusalem. Since they were traveling by foot it would take them about a week, maybe more, to arrive in Jerusalem. These events we’re reading about transpired along the way, and I think it’s noteworthy that Jesus already knew his ultimate fate once he arrived in Jerusalem. Our Lord and Savior had more than a week to think about all that would happen to him on his way down there, and yet he did not waver in the slightest. He told his apostles in advance what would happen to him in order to warn them that they were all about to experience something traumatic to them – the loss of their beloved Leader and Teacher. Yet Jesus and his apostles, who were evidently a pretty hardy bunch, marched together in solidarity down to Jerusalem – a distance of roughly 100 miles — so the Lord could meet his fate. But Jesus was the only man who truly knew, yet he did not hesitate. We should all take a lesson from this, that all of us should follow Him with that same dedication and sense of purpose! And now let’s move on to the 2nd part of our study, starting from verse 35.
“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting on the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ He called out, ‘Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see’, he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you’. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.” (Luke 18, verses 35-42)
As we saw in last week’s lesson, like when the apostles tried to stop the little children from coming to Jesus before our Lord rebuked them, so they rebuked the blind man for drawing such attention to himself. Jesus apparently rebuked the apostles again, as the apostle Luke wrote: “Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him.” Jesus immediately let it be known to those who led his entourage that their rebuking should cease because he was about to heal that same blind beggar. Our lesson here is that it is never right to prevent those who are seeking the Lord from coming to him. Yet this very thing continues to happen today. It happens overseas in countries where being a Christian is illegal and punishable by death, and it happens here in America every time Christian people of color are attacked or deprecated by so-called “white nationalists” and other members of the “Christian identity” movements who masquerade as Christians while showing contempt for God’s creations who don’t look like them.
“’What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see’, he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you’. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.” The first lesson we can take away with us today regarding this passage is that when someone repeatedly cries out to God for mercy, that cry gets heard (see Psalms 54, verses 1-5). Jesus never turns anyone away who asks for healing. I should know. He’s done that very thing for me. If anyone wants to know the full story, it’s available as a book titled, “Sole Survivor”, which you can learn about by clicking here. The second thing I’d like to bring to your attention is that Jesus took no credit for the healing he had just performed. “Your faith has healed you”, he said. Jesus could not have healed that man if he did not really think he was capable of doing so. This may seem obvious on the surface, I know, but the fact of the matter is Jesus’ willingness to heal was directly proportional to the blind man’s faith in our Lord’s abilities to do so, combined with their willingness to follow through. And follow through is exactly what the newly healed man did (“he followed Jesus, praising God”)! Take note that the first actions of the formerly blind man were to praise God and follow his Son who had just healed his blindness. He put those newly-healed eyes to good use.
Isn’t that what we should be doing? Think about that for a minute. What has Jesus healed within you? If the answer is nothing at all, maybe it’s because you’ve never asked him. Notice that the blind man who had been begging by the roadside kept calling out to him repeatedly, “Have mercy on me!!” He continued to do this, even to the point of being told to be quiet by others who were annoyed by the man’s incessant begging. In today’s world that blind man would be called an ‘aggressive panhandler’, and would have been taken to jail. That goes to show us all what a cruel and heartless world our planet has been turned into, and it’s 100% our fault! But in this case it was Jesus who was passing by, so instead of judging the man he healed him instead. That’s exactly what we must all emulate if we’re going to be true followers of Christ. Instead of judging those less fortunate, do something for them instead! Show mercy and compassion everywhere you go, and the Spirit of the Lord will surely be with you. And next week we’ll move on to part 1 of Luke chapter 19.