Reflect on this past week. Where have you seen God at work? Where would you like to see him at work today? Tell him about it.
Jesus predicts his death a third time
31 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.
A blind beggar receives his sight
35 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.
Today’s readings contain two stories about blind men.
First, the disciples, who just couldn’t see how Jesus’ version of coming events in Jerusalem (vs 31–33) could possibly make sense (v 34). A messiah abused in his own capital city! Despite having been with Jesus for so long, they just didn’t get it: ‘its meaning was hidden from them’ (v 34).
Secondly, the beggar on the road to Jericho. He hadn’t been with Jesus, and clearly hadn’t seen him, but – (presumably) based on what he had heard about him – persistently cries out for help (vs 38,39). Does Jesus’ question seem strange to you (v 41a)? Isn’t it obvious what the man needs? As a beggar, it might have been safer to ask for some money (passers-by had that) rather than risk everything on a far-fetched request for healing (v 41b). And yet, Jesus met his request and opened his eyes (v 42).
Who do you identify with in this reading: the dull-but-trusting disciples, or the bold-and-tenacious beggar? The good news is that Jesus has time for both.
A prayer for short-sighted disciples: ‘Open my eyes Lord: I want to see Jesus.’ Now keep your eyes open for his presence in your everyday life – he turns up in the most surprising places!
Deeper Bible study
‘Every beautiful thing that life has to offer, demands the habit of relentlessness.’1
The thing that stands out in this story is the desperate persistence of the blind beggar. He calls out once and is silenced, but he will not be deterred. The verb in verse 38 is an ordinary shout to attract attention. However, the verb in verse 39 is entirely different, with connotations of the instinctive scream of ungovernable emotion, an almost animal cry. It underlines the utter desperation of this poor man, who understands that this may well be his one chance to encounter Jesus of Nazareth.
It is remarkable that Jesus stops and calls the beggar to come near. His next question is even more profound – ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ (v 41). It seems a bit silly – the blind beggar obviously wants to see! Jesus, however, sees more than a blind beggar and he creates a beautiful moment of quiet in which to ask an important and probing question. It seems that he really wants to hear the honest answer of the man’s heart.
Prayer starts with real desperation. The blind beggar’s determination is inspirational – nothing will stop him from coming face to face with Jesus. This is more than a gentle, sentimental desire – it is a passionate, intense longing, which comes from the very depths of our hearts. When we tap into that place, we find a surprising space of stillness and quiet dignity, in which Jesus asks us this same question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Prayer is about recognising the opportunity to encounter Jesus, discovering the sacred space in which we can speak to him and responding to his quiet and probing question, knowing that he sees not just our many needs but also the person behind them.
How desperate are you? Take some time today to get into a place of stillness with the Lord, and to hear his knowing question: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ What is the deepest answer of your heart to this loving request? Tell him.
1 Edmond Mbiaka
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Ezekiel 18,19; 1 Peter 1
Pray for Scripture Union
Today student leaders of school Christian groups from across London will be meeting. Pray that they will be encouraged and equipped in their roles and that the groups which they lead might be a clear Christian presence in schools.