Friday, June 26, 2015

But Jesus stopped

A great war has not now just been concluded, as many hope, but has only just begun. Forces that have lain hidden in lethargic heaps suddenly come to life, looking about frantically to see who is an ally, who an enemy. Volunteers emerge from their lairs armed with words, prepared to do battle, to join those who like them believe in culture war, rallying around tattered standards they themselves have quietly abandoned, until this moment. Eager to fight a war that they do not, cannot understand, because they have never fought it, against a foe that has known nothing but warfare from their very birth.

Born on a battlefield, at war with their own souls and bodies, deprived of good counsel, rejected as vile vermin deserving only of scorn and death, having no refuge in what they can be proud of, they have made their own way, kingless, unprotected, they are, to a man, like the blind man of Jericho.

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.’ He called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ 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!’ Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Lord, I want to see,’ he replied. Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’ Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Luke 18:35-43

Those who ‘led the way’ before Jesus, His followers, tried to silence a blind man, a man who wanted to see so badly, so urgently, that he went right to the only One he knew could grant him his request, paying no attention to those followers who would silence him. We have something similar going on today, but it’s hard to recognize and connect it in spirit to this story, because the followers have so ardently declared it a culture war. They actually know nothing of war. If they did, they wouldn’t fire so blindly, they would look for the real enemy, and target him, not their brother who has known nothing but warfare since birth.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

But Jesus stopped. He has a way of stepping through crowds of His followers as well as crowds of His foes, unscathed and without them noticing, to deliver and to show mercy. In the persons of those who ‘seek peace, pursue it’ and who thirsting after righteousness ‘free the captives’ He comes near, asking ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ even while His followers prepare for war. A blind man’s faith, He declares, heals him. The followers, too preoccupied with protecting Him, would have prevented the man from coming to Jesus, whose presence is the only place where faith is even possible.

But Jesus stopped. He heard the blind man’s plea. He validated him through his faith, and opened his eyes for the first time. That blind man followed Him, says holy and divine Scripture, praising God. ‘When all the people saw it, they also praised God.’

Maybe it’s hard for us to see how someone lacking a most essential faculty, sight, can receive it from Jesus, but we would never know if we kept them from meeting. Jesus validates a man’s faith, and opens eyes that have been shut since birth. How much more can He do for us, and for them who have known nothing but war since birth, if we only allow them to meet, for peace is costly enough when we pay for it with our own lives given in war, but He paid for the peace of all of us with His own life and, bidding us to pay it forward, makes us share in the Divine Nature.

How blessed are the peacemakers!
for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9

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