Reading: Luke 18.35-43
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
Today’s reading is a familiar story. A person with a life-changing affliction becomes aware that Jesus is near. That person has heard the stories. That person believes that his disability can be healed by this amazing man. In desperation and hope he raises his voice and cries out to Jesus. In desperation and hope he comes to Jesus and asks for the gift of healing that only Jesus can give.
In these strange and challenging times we have all experienced confusion and disorientation. Some have been overwhelmed with fear, while others have experienced complex problems with their mental well-being. Whether our times of lockdown have caused us anxiety or not, surely we have all longed for healing from the health crisis that has so radically affected our daily lives. This is the point where today’s reading speaks to our lives in 2020.
Our hopes and prayers for healing are founded in our longing for a return to ‘normality’, but that was not the case for the blind beggar. The blind man who cried out to Jesus for healing wanted something very different. In an ironic sense, that man’s blindness brought with it a degree of certainty, even security, that we will probably find it difficult to understand. A serious disability, such as blindness, brought with it an income derived from the sympathy and empathy of those who were physically fit. The healing of that blind man would have taken him into a new and unpredictable world, a world of new sights and uncertainties, and yet that was what he asked of Jesus.
In our prayers we often ask for healing and change, but those prayers are often rooted in self-interest. The blind man wanted the most radical change imaginable. Whilst our prayers are offered in sincerity we rarely want the level of change that will free us to live a life of true discipleship. And, of course, that is exactly what the blind man was given by Jesus.
The blind man’s response to his healing was to glorify God, not to go around telling people how lucky he was. What is more, his glorifying of God led others to praise God as well. As we pray for healing and change let us also prepare ourselves for the moment when that prayer is answered. Let us pray that we might also be given the courage to use our newly healed selves to glorify the God who brings healing. Let us not be afraid of the change that healing might bring to our lives. Let us, instead, pray for the strength and the courage to use our newly healed lives to make this a better and more God-centred world.