Jesus heals a lot of people in the Gospels, especially blind guys (I don’t think he ever heals a blind woman). Sometimes when we read these stories they can become “and then Jesus heals another blind guy” kind of stories. We yawn. And to a certain extent that’s there, but it’s also important to point out what’s happening around these healings.
One of the things that I think is important about this one is that it happened on the way to Jericho. We’ve been hearing that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, so why is he stopping Jericho? When it says “as he approached Jericho…” it almost seems that he intends to go there. Jericho is on his way and maybe they’re just ready for a stop, but they’ve passed by and stopped in several towns by this time, so why does Luke specifically mention Jericho? Well, what I think is a very important story in the Gospel of Luke is about to take place, and I think this healing will inform it.
But I also don’t think this healing is purely set up. This man is not just a transition to get Jesus somewhere or to something. He matters. And what strikes me about him is the shouting. He is desperate for Jesus’ touch and he shouts out his name. Then it says “those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet”. This makes it sound like there is a parade of sorts going on. People are lining the streets to see him as in a parade, and as one would do for a king, and this man shouts out to him. Pretty soon we people will be lining the streets of Jerusalem and shouting to him in the familiar “Palm Sunday” episode. Here, the people then tell this man to be quiet and he does it again!
I love that he doesn’t care what those around him think. He’s not going to let their desire to keep everything neat and tidy get in the way of him getting to Jesus. Jesus told his disciples not to hinder the children from coming to him, and now there are people hindering this man from getting to Jesus with their social norms. But he will not be hindered. He doesn’t let their social norms stop him. What gets in our way of authentically, passionately and intentionally getting to Jesus? What social norms in our might be keeping us from shouting out in our need? What would happen if you began to show visible and audible desperation for Jesus your worship context? Do we even recognize our need enough to shout? Are we that desperate, and are we content to let Jesus walk on by?
The power that Jesus has to radically change us, heal us, and speak into our lives is life changing. Do we really believe that? And are we willing to break down social norms to get to him? Do we believe in him to the degree that we will do whatever we need to do to get to him? What’s keeping you from getting to him? Can you find the courage to break through that barrier?