A Two Gentlemen's Encounter with Jesus

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Let us look at Luke 18:35-43

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. 

To me, that is not a parable. That is an encounter that this man had with Jesus Christ.  Jesus restored this man to wholeness; Jesus gave him what he never expected to have ever received.

Jesus Never Ignores a Voice of Need

We are told in the scripture that this man who was sitting on the roadside was a blind beggar.  And Jesus was travelling along this same road on his way to Jericho. Jesus never owned a donkey. He did not even own a horse.  He in most cases just walked on foot. And as Jesus was walking to Jericho, crowds were following him.  

Jesus had an attractive personality.  People who were friends and foes all followed Jesus Christ for one reason or another.  So this crowd was big.

Jesus had a wonderful character.  He had something in him that people needed, and so they followed him. The Bible informs us that Jesus was passing by this blind beggar.  And I would imagine that he had already passed by.  On hearing the great excitement of the people who were following Jesus, this man asked and tried to find out what was going on. Some kind person told him that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.  This guy could not see, but he had ears. He could listen. He never saw, but he could listen.

And when he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, he called Him in a loud voice saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me".  It is evident that this blind man knew Jesus.  He knew where he came from.  He knew who he was because he identified Him as the "Son of David". 

When this blind man cried out saying "Son of David, Have mercy on me"; those who were leading the way rebuked him saying, "You are making noise. Keep quiet! Shut up!"  But their rebukes did not stop this man from expressing his need to Jesus. They just motivated him to speak on and it was as if they had poured petrol on fire.  These rebukes and prohibitions just energized this man and he shouted even the more saying, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

Do you notice something unusual here? Apparently, Jesus and other people around him had even passed.  Did Jesus see this blind man as he was passing by? I am sure he did.  Why then wouldn't Jesus stop and heal him?  I don't know. But the point that this incidence reveals to us is that when there is a cry, when there is a plea, when there is a voice of need, Jesus would never ignore that. Jesus could not ignore this man.  He heard the man the cry of this needy blind man and he stopped!

Beloved, do you have a need? Call on Jesus. Shout, scream whatever the case is: call on him; he listens.  How many blind people were there during the time of Jesus?  Why would Jesus only heal a few blind people? I am sure those who needed him, and they made sure they got to him, he never turned them back.

What do You want Jesus to Do for You?

Jesus stopped and waited for this guy to be brought to him. And when the man came to him, he asked him a question which I think was quite strange and surprising but very helpful.  Jesus asked this man saying, "What do you want me to do for you?" 

Before we analyze this strange question that Jesus asked this blind man let me first speak to you a bit more about the condition of this man and see how this should be understood in our context today.

The tells us that this blind man was a beggar.  And he would beg for food, money and probably even for clothing. From my observation, I have come to understand that a begging spirit and blindness, are co-workers.  

It looks like when you are blind, you will beg. And in our context and in Africa and in Uganda, our blindness has made us beggars.  I don't actually understand this begging business altogether. Even the scriptures do not tell us to beg God. No. We are not to beg God, but we are to ask God.  I believe there is something terribly wrong with this begging spirit in Africa.

Blindness has weakened Africa. Our blindness has made us beggars when we are not supposed to be beggars. Let me give you one example to shed more light on this fact.  

I lived in the city for nine years.  When I decided to step down from the Archbishop's office, I chose to go upcountry, 2 Kilometers away from the Democratic Republic of Congo border. I am currently living in a rural place. In view of this, many of my urban colleagues usually ask me saying, "What is your problem?" They think it is degrading for any international man or national man to return to the village and get tacked up there among villagers. Now because this is exactly what I have done, people look  to me in wonder and ask, "what is your problem?"  

The problem with these people is that they are so blind that they cannot understand that when God blesses you, he doesn't bless you because of a place. God blesses a person.  And wherever you go, the blessing goes with you. In the city, in the village, wherever you are: you are going to still be blessed.  And for the two and a half years that we have now so far spent in that village, we are blessed beyond words. The air is clean.  The food is nice. The food is actually straight from the garden to the kitchen and to the table. Things are quieter there. There is no stress. The rhythm is gentle. 

I need to stress it again that a begging spirit comes as a result of blindness. This blind man was a beggar.  They gave him food.  They gave him whatever they gave him. But when Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?"  He did not ask for food.  He did not ask for money.  He did not even ask for a cloth to put on.  Knowing that this is Jesus of Nazareth, Son of David; he decided to ask for what only Jesus can give. And what he needed from Jesus was very clear in his mind.  He said, "Lord, I want to see." He did not want food. He did not want money. He did not even want clothes.  He wanted something that only Jesus could do for him.  And I find that very instructive to me that when I go to Father God, I need to ask him what only God can do.

I asked my congregation the other day saying, "If you were to meet Sudhir (who is one of our richest men in Uganda), would you ask him for a bottle of Soda?" I told them that they could go to my sister and ask her a bottle of soda but for Sudhir, to ask him for a bottle of Soda, It looks like as if you are insulting him!

Jesus of Nazareth is able to do only what God can do. And Jesus said to this man, "Receive your sight, your faith has healed you.  Receive your sight, you trusted in me." Christ as the creator of the universe and he is the one who made the eyes. This Christ, who is able to do the impossible told this man, "Recieve your sight, your faith has healed you."

The man received his sight. And the man followed Jesus. The man forgot his place where he had been confined for a long time.  The man left his begging position. I believe this man also left his begging bowl because he didn't need it anymore. And I am sure that he soon afterwards also abandoned his old garment that he used to wear on a daily basis as a beggar.  This man deserted that place as a new man. To this man, the healing he had just received was very good news indeed.  To this man, a new life has come in.  To this man, something he never expected to happen that day happened to him. The change was evident not only to this man alone but also to other people who saw what Christ had done for we are told that they too praised God. Whenever Jesus passes by, something happens; and it is always great things that happen when Jesus is in a place.

I am yet to find a church that calls on the name of Jesus in sincerity and in truth and nothing happens in that church. And I am yet to find a church where Christ is honoured and glorified and worshipped but where you still don't see the glory of God displayed. Wherever Christ is honoured and magnified, his glory will always be displayed there.

It is true and we can bank on it that Christ will come.  Christ will touch people and change their lives.  Something happened to this man, and I see he is following Jesus because when his eyes were opened my dear friends, the first person he saw was Jesus! He thereafter saw other people and then the environment.  Things were not the same. Light came into his life.  A newness came in. And something fantastic happened to him.  

We can talk a lot about this man but because of time, I don't want to labour that point too much. I want us to leave this man at this point and move on to the next man.

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