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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.
Most of us will have been at meetings or social events where one person attempts to shout everyone else down. They use their loud voice and overbearing personality to make sure that their opinion, however misguided, is the one that dominates. It is very rare that those ‘shouty’ people pay any attention to the expertise or emotional responses of those around them. In fact, the one thing they seem to have in common is that they never listen to anyone else because they are so certain that they are always right. In a meeting it is the job of the chairperson to be strong in controlling such people; whilst in a social setting it is the shared responsibility of everyone present to protect and nurture each other as Mr or Mrs Shouty try to dominate everyone else.
Sometimes it is appropriate, of course, for us to take on the role of the shouty one. Sometimes what we have to say is far too important, and should not be silenced by anyone. We see just such a moment in today’s reading. A blind man was begging by the roadside. This would have been the only way such a person could generate any sort of income in first century society. Then, as he sat by the roadside he became aware of a great crowd bustling and swirling around him. It is easy to imagine him grabbing someone and asking what was going on. It was then that he heard the amazing news that Jesus was passing by.
Even that blind man had heard the good news of Jesus, the one who was able to cure the incurable, the one who was able to give new life, new hope to all, and he shouted. That unnamed blind man shouted for all his worth: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! We should not be surprised that those around him told him to be quiet. You can almost imagine them telling him to ‘show some respect’, or to ‘keep his personal needs to himself’. That is easy to imagine because it is what we might well find ourselves saying should such a situation occur today!
The blind man did not keep quiet. The blind man shouted and shouted until Jesus responded by picking him out of the crowd, recognizing his faith, and healing him. Then, that shouty blind man glorified God, and led others to see the power of Jesus, leaving them praising God as well.
As we live out our daily lives, let us pray that we might not join the ranks of Mr and Mrs Shouty as we seek to be the most important and the most influential. Instead, let us pray that we might not hesitate in raising our voices about the one thing of which we can be certain … God’s love for us all.