Along the Way

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S (Scripture): Mark 10:46 Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. 47 When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” 48 Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.”

They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.”

50 Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus.

51 Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.”

52 Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way.

O (Observation): Jesus’ followers acknowledge a blind man, Bartimaeus, on the side of the road…calling out for the Son of David, Jesus Christ, to have mercy on him.

The crowd following Jesus, which included his disciples, tried to hush the man and dismiss him. They couldn’t be bothered. They were “on the way.”

Yet Jesus calls on Bartimaeus to be brought forward. Now the crowd encourages him.

Can’t they make up their mind? Discourage the blind man or encourage him. Either way, the man’s persistence pays off. And what is the result of Jesus healing the man? The man is now following Jesus along the way.

A (Application): How many times have you missed the opportunity to receive grace? Maybe you couldn’t find the strength to shout out to Jesus to help you.

How many times have others (from within the Church) silenced you or made you feel unworthy?

Somehow, through faith (made possible by the Holy Spirit dwelling in you) and through a supportive community of believers all around you, you can receive Jesus’ mercy.

You can be moved from sitting on the side of the road to becoming one who follows Jesus along the way. From the side of the road, to the journey with Jesus.

P (Prayer): Lord, give us faith and courage to cry out to Jesus. Surround us with a loving faith community. Amen.


Justice and Restoration

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S (Scripture): Isaiah 42:1 But here is my servant, the one I uphold; my chosen, who brings me delight. I’ve put my spirit upon him;
he will bring justice to the nations.

3 He won’t break a bruised reed;
he won’t extinguish a faint wick,
but he will surely bring justice.

6 I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason.
I will grasp your hand and guard you, and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations,
7 to open blind eyes, to lead the prisoners from prison, and those who sit in darkness from the dungeon.
8 I am the Lord; that is my name;
I don’t hand out my glory to others or my praise to idols.
9 The things announced in the past—look—they’ve already happened, but I’m declaring new things.  Before they even appear, I tell you about them.

O (Observation):  As God’s people of Israel stand almost totally decimated, a word of hope comes from God.   God declares that people can recount history’s, but only God can look forward in time to tell us what may happen.  

God declares that His servant will one day come to bring justice throughout the earth.  The servant will not fight for justice…but would live out justice, and in a new way.   The Servant will bring justice by restoring folks into community: the blind will see, the prisoners and those sitting in dungeons will be freed. 

These indeed are words of good news when you are sitting in a dungeon or cannot see, and are thus separated from one’s loved ones and friends.   

God is the one who will do justice through God’s own servant.  God will rely on no one and no other thing.   

A (Application):  In the battles that rage in our nation’s government, in the discomfort around the dinner table, God provides a ray of hope: Jesus Christ.   

Jesus wishes neither to conquer anyone nor command our words and actions.   Jesus – God’s servant described in Isaiah? – is the new thing that God has done in the history of the world.  Jesus, the Suffering Servant, has entered our governmental proceedings and sits with us at the dinner table.  

Do we let Jesus speak in these places?   Is Jesus’ version of justice allowed to be heard?

How will we live as people of hope?  How will we be living out Jesus’ justice?  Will we use our hands and voices in God’s name?   

How will we bring about restoration in the name of God?  I think of an old picture, tattered, beat up, maybe even torn…and some skilled person can reassemble the pieces and bring forth what was originally intended for the picture.    This is what justice means: being restored to our original intention, as God sees us.  

Let us remember this as we speak and act in the name of Jesus in our day.  And let us remember that OUR version of justice should always give deference to Jesus’ version: restoring outsiders to the community.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, restoration comes through you and you alone; help us to be your hand and feet and voice  Amen.   

Was Blind, But Now I See

S (Scripture): John 9:39 Jesus said:  “For judgment I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind.”

40 Some of the Pharisees who were with Jesus heard this and asked him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 41 Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.

O (Observation):  Jesus has healed a man born blind.  The Pharisees are incredulous.  They just don’t believe Jesus could have performed this miracle.   But Jesus turns this into more than just a physical healing. 

Jesus opens up the conversation to a spiritual healing,  now.   Jesus reveals that those who think they can see (like The Pharisees) are really just kidding themselves.   They see only what they want to see.  In fact, they are so into their own view, they are blind to the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, is standing there in front of them. 

The man who was healed progresses in his understanding of who Jesus is, from prophet to Son of Man.  

Here’s an additional explanation from my commentary:

To receive Jesus was to receive the light of the world, to reject him was to reject the light, close one’s eyes, and become blind. This is the serious sin of which Jesus had warned before (8:21-24). The blindness of such people was incurable since they had rejected the only cure that exists.

A (Application):  How many of us think we know what we know is true?  What proves something to be true?   Without scientific evidence, we can begin to doubt.  How do we believe when we don’t see the miracle before us?  

These are tough, honest questions.  And the hardest part is that our schedules tend to make us so busy, that we don’t allow ourselves time to seek God’s movement in our world.  And THAT – not resting, not abiding – is our major downfall.  For in staying busy, we effectively become “blind” to God’s presence before us, and we become “deaf” to his voice. 

Only in times of rest and abiding do we truly discern what God is saying to us…so that we can then take action in the world for God’s glory.

Recently, in retreat and in reading, I have been awakened to help the effort to dismantle racism in this country – or at least in my neck of the woods : )   I was blind, but now I see that justice is lacking in many areas regarding race relations.   And I hope to continue to help in this effort. 

What issues have you been awakened to, lately?

P (Prayer): Lord, help me to see you this day.  Amen.  

Humility and Spiritual Blindness


S (Scripture): John 9:30 For Jesus said, “I have come into this world, so that those who do not see may gain their sight, and the ones who see may become blind.”
9:40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and asked him, “We are not blind too, are we?” 9:41 Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin, but now because you claim that you can see, your guilt remains.”

O (Observation): Jesus has healed a man born blind – a healing act that was never accomplished before…and all the Pharisees can think is: Jesus must be a sinner. This compels me to think that the man born blind AND the religious leaders need to have their eyes opened – the former, literally, the latter, spiritually.

A friend of mine wrote in his blog yesterday that a dogged adherence to the rules can be just as dangerous as no rules at all. Jesus is reminding these religious leaders that their eyes need to be opened, and that a bit of humility is in order.

A (Application): Humility allows for the fact that we just might not know everything after all : )

Humility gives us space to allow God to be God.

In the movie Rudy, a young man works really hard to get into Notre Dame AND to play football. The odds are stacked against him: he’s 5 foot-nothin’, weighs about 175 lbs, and he’s just not good with academics.

He goes to the local Catholic Church, and he speaks with a priest about his frustrations. The response from the priest is brilliant:

“Son, I’ve been a priest for over 35 years. And I’m only sure of two things: There’s a God, and I’m not Him.”

Some consider that bailing out. I consider it being blind in such a way that allows God to help me see,
rather than me seeing on my own.

Where do you need to be lifted up in prayer, regarding what you see as clear sinfulness? Will you allow God to reveal truth to you? Or do you want to get there on your own?

P (Prayer): Lord, reveal to us your will, and when we are too stubborn, allow our blindness to be healed by you. Amen.

Are We Still Listening?


S (Scripture): John 9:13 They brought the man who used to be blind to the Pharisees. 9:14 (Now the day on which Jesus made the mud and caused him to see was a Sabbath.) 9:15 So the Pharisees asked him again how he had gained his sight. He replied, “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and now I am able to see.”

9:28 The Jewish religious leaders heaped insults on him (the man born blind), saying, “You are his disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses! We do not know where this man comes from!” 9:30 The man replied, “This is a remarkable thing, that you don’t know where he comes from, and yet he caused me to see! 9:31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is devout and does his will, God listens to him. 9:32 Never before has anyone heard of someone causing a man born blind to see. 9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 9:34 They replied, “You were born completely in sinfulness, and yet you presume to teach us?” So they threw him out.

O (Observation): Phew! Lots going on here. Man born blind – Jesus heals him on the Sabbath – Jewish leaders try to trap Jesus again – Man born blind progresses in belief – Jewish leaders pull rank and dismiss the man born blind as a sinner, because he considers himself a disciple of Jesus.

Two things stand out to me.

1. Jesus heals on the Sabbath.
2. When push comes to shove, the Jewish religious leaders default to titles and tradition, not God.

Healing on the Sabbath was considered sinful. This was a work, and people were not to work on the Sabbath. (See the 10 Commandments.).

Once again, Jesus bumps up against the traditions. This puts him at odds with the religious leaders. This also means that he is coming back to the main point: Which is more important? Sabbath, or bringing someone back into the community where that person can worship God?

When challenging the man born blind, the religious leaders have the tables turned on them by this very man who has been healed. He seems to think that they want to follow Jesus, but they end up claiming to be disciples of Moses. Moreover, when they get frustrated with this man they just pull rank and fall back to their titles as positions of privilege. They then declare that this man just simply must be sinful, even though he’s been healed. Have the religious leaders stopped listening for God’s voice, and instead, clung to their human-made traditions to seek life in God?

A (Application): Are we still listening? Do we still listen for God’s voice? Do we still listen to seek what it is that God would have us do in this world?

I wonder if we are not like these Jewish religious leaders at times – leaning on tradition and titles and positions of power in the church and in the world.

Do business people and bankers and politicians and entrepreneurs and cooks and nurses and doctors and lawyers still listen for God’s voice? I hope they do. Yet, too often we rely on our hired religious leaders to speak about faith and do the “spiritual thing” for us.

Whether we are in a church building, at home, in the workplace, at school, listening for God’s voice is extremely important. When we fail to stop and listen, we fail to notice God breaking into the world. When we don’t notice God, we fall back on our own traditions and our own ways. These traditions and ways are not life-giving in and of themselves.

The Protestant Reformation is a testament to continually looking for God in the world. Martin Luther, and many others who helped paved the way for him to lead, challenged the traditions of the church, and God’s voice was heard and acted upon.

May we continually live in a state of “reformation.” A reformation not of our own doing, but of God’s doing. Let us hope that God can take us…broken, tattered and torn, heal us, and then set us free to do God’s will.

Where have you seen a need for reformation? At home? At school? At work?

Listen for God to call you forward. God heals. God saves. God empowers. Follow.

P (Prayer): Healing Lord, bring us to see you in our simple, normal, everyday lives, and bring us new life to share with others. Amen.