As Dejan Stojanovic put it: “Faith is a question of eyesight; even the blind can see that.”
Do you really see what the Lord is doing in your life? In an old notebook of mine, I find this: “We pass through the present with our eyes blindfolded. We sense and guess at what we are actually experiencing. Only later when the cloth is untied can we glance at the past and find out what we have experienced and what meaning it has.”
We figure it out in retrospect. And it’s later,-much later, -that we learn to sing “All the way, my Saviour leads me…”
So I have much sympathy for the disciples. Despite repeated retellings they simply could not fathom what Jesus meant in the announcement of his own impending future.
“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.’
34 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 18:31-34)
Luke is carefully explicit here. They understood the words but could not grasp the meaning. This is why Matthew notes: “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!“” (Matthew 16:22)
Very often we think we have a clear idea of what should happen next! We pray for one another with that same over-defined precision. If someone is sick, then we desire healing for them. If someone is poor, we wish for wealth. If something is broken, then it needs fixing, instantly.
But these reactions constitute the response of Peter,which evoked a stern rebuke: “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” “ (Matthew 16:23)
Think about that! Our quick-fit solutions are sometimes not “the concerns of God” at all!
And Luke appends a familiar miracle-story which somehow develops the discussion:
“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’
38 He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.” (Luke 18:36-43)
Part of this story connects with the encouragement to push forward in faith, to not be put off by the distracting voices that bid you be sensible or respectable and to go for all that God has for you.
And so we see the blind man shouting “all the more” despite being rebuked and told to be quiet. It is reminiscent of the children wanting to come to Jesus but being prevented by well-intentioned but fussy disciples doing crowd-control. And once again, Jesus permits the interference to his schedule in the name of mercy and compassison. The children receive blessing. The man is healed.
But some of the language here,and its immediate context, suggests a deeper or additional meaning. The context, as just noted, is that of not understanding the mission of Jesus, of being blind to the implications of his ministry and purpose. But “everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.”
That is to say: “If you have read your Hebrew Bible with all due diligence, none of this will be a surprise.And yet you sit at the roadside, the journey of faith unbegun, because of your obdurate blindness. What do you want me to do for you? You want to see? At last a right answer!”
And the immediate consequence is that he “followed Jesus” on the way to Jerusalem.
This last word is significant. It connects the two passages, for Jerusalem is the destination and culmination point of the ministry of jesus. It represents both triumph and pain, and the big picture of what God is doing.God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
If we desire revelation of God, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it is all one great triumphalist progress. There may be pain in the offering too. “Sometimes, God doesn’t send you into a battle to win it; he sends you to end it.”
(Shannon L. Alder)
But Lord, I want to see.
I want to understand something of what you’re doing in my life, in my town and in my world. And when I come to pray for people, I really want to have your mind on what’s happening, and how I should pray.
Are my quick-fit solutions “merely human concerns“? Give me a bigger picture of what’s going on, Lord.
I also thank you that I don’t know the future and that I can simply follow you on the way, and enjoy, endure, and survive each moment as it comes to me in its proper sequence, as a surprise!