Coming to Your House!

coming to your houseThis Sunday is Easter, the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It is a time of reflection, joy and renewal. It is also a time when many of us gather for a special meal either with family, friends or both. Jesus shared a meal with his friends before he offered up his life. He shared a meal later as well before he was taken up to heaven on the clouds.

In fact, Jesus shared meals with his friends and followers many times through his ministry. His first miracle was performed at a wedding. Twice he fed thousands of people with food that would have been sufficient for one. He ate with religious leaders and social outcasts.

We often thinking of him teaching on the hillsides or in the temple, we think of his miracles and debates with the Pharisees. Jesus like to eat. He liked to hang out with friends and relax. It is a part of him that we often forget.

I have written my own imagined account of the day he met Zacchaeus, the short tax collector. I am offering it free for this Easter weekend. In it, you can meet Jesus just days before his final triumphant entry into Jerusalem.



Blind leading the Blind, conclusion

“It is Jesus, he is coming!”

I began to shake. For a moment, I was back in the market surrounded by enemies. My body wracked with the pain of blows I couldn’t see coming. I had no defense, no shelter from the wrath of those who beat me with impunity. The terror of being at the mercy of an enemy I couldn’t escape filled me beyond bearing.

“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” The words escaped my throat in a rush. I could sense people on either side of me pull back, no doubt not wanting to be too close if my outburst brought punishment. Voices shouted from the direction of the street.

“Shut up, old man.”

“Leave the teacher alone.” Someone nudged me with a sandaled foot. I could not stop shouting.

“Son of David, have mercy on me!” Even as I cried out the words, panic rose within me. What if he ignores me? What if he refuses? I will be like this forever, always afraid, always alone. Wrapping my arms around myself, I began to rock trying to fight back the terror. The voices in the street began to mutter angrily. Beggars were not supposed to demand the attention of important people. Beggars were to meekly accept whatever was given whether blows or blessings.

“Call him.” The voice was calm and firm. My rocking slowed. The panic ebbed away.

“On your feet beggar, he is calling you.”

“Cheer up, he wants you to come to him.” The voices calling out were the same ones that had told me to be still. The words had changed, but the tone did not. They did not like me to bother the man they were following but I did not care. He had answered my call and I must to go to him. I struggled for a moment to untangle my legs from my cloak so that I could stand. Finally, I threw it off. The desperation to go to Jesus overpowered everything else. I staggered to my feet and lurched toward the street.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus spoke calmly. My heart raced.

“Rabbi, I want to see.” For a moment, nothing happened. No one moved. The only sound was that of people breathing and shifting. I flinched as a hand touched my bruised face but the touch didn’t hurt. It was soft and gentle as a breath of wind. Gentle fingers touched my closed eyes then moved away. A moment later the man spoke.

“Go, your faith has healed you.” I could hear the man step back. For a moment, I continued to kneel. Could it possibly be true? I opened my eyes. Brightness seared my brain. My eyes snapped shut once more. The familiar darkness was comforting for a moment, but the memory of that light drew me. I opened my eyes a tiny crack. The light was still bright, but no longer painful. I opened them a little more. The light shifted and moved. It changed from light to dark and back. A little more. The shifting light was shapes moving back and forth around me. I blinked and opened my eyes fully.Dazed, I staggered to my feet. This was sight. It
was more that I had ever dreamed. Colors, what were their names? It was a symphony of shape and color and texture. Tears streamed from my eyes. It was overwhelming.

Can you imagine what it would be like to see for the first time after being born blind. Just having to walk through a strange place without the benefit of my contacts or glasses is enough to send me into a near panic. Imagine seeing nothing but  blackness. Forever. Then Someone comes and offers you sight. The play of light and shadow on water or on a field of grass, the colors of a sunset or the simple perfection of a flower all available to you for the fist time. Even the hard things, the suffering face of a friend, the death of a loved one, the devastation of war. In all of those things, God shows his face, his love, his sorrow.

But do we see? There is none so blind as those who will not see. How many of us have the blessing of sight but refuse to open our eyes to the world around us. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. Our world is hurting so much right now. What are we doing to bring the light of God’s Word to others? How are we leading those we love and even those we don’t to the blessings God has planned for his people.

Open your eyes and see what God has for you today.

Blind leading the Blind, part 2

The safety of the gate was across the market. Usually, I had the steady presence of a guide to lead me. All I had to do was keep my hand on his shoulder and he would take me through. Today there was no guide; instead,
I would be the one leading the way. Cold sweat trickled down my face. My heart was already beating fast, now it thumped painfully in my chest.

The clamor of the market was disorienting. I could barely hear the buzzing echo but I continued to shuffle forward. No longer sheltered by the wall, people brushed against me on all sides. With every step, my heart pounded harder. My hands moved around hoping to encounter anything that my help me find the way across the market. All I could feel was the shifting wall of people. My fingers touched rough material and smooth skin. A strong hand grabbed my own and twisted.

“Watch it, old man.” The deep voice snarled above me. “Are you trying to steal from me? Trying to take my purse?” Another hand gripped my throat. Hard calluses scraped against my skin and I was lifted off my feet. I gasped for air, clawing at the hand that held me.

“Stop, he is not a thief, we are trying to get to the gate.” Hadar was still there. I wanted to tell him to run and hide lest they turn on him next. How was the boy to find a safe spot? Was anywhere safe?

“To the gate? A beggar then!”

“Come on, beggar, are you hungry? Here’s some fruit for you,” something wet splatted on my head, the juice running down into my ear. The smell of overripe melon washed over me. More rotting fruit and bits of spoiled meat rained down. I couldn’t stop the tears. Pain and humiliation radiated through me.

Later, sitting on the side of the road, I huddled inside my cloak. Hadar had begun our usual plea for alms. For the first time I could not join him. another shudder wracked my body. I could not remember the last time I had been so afraid. Many years ago, I made peace with the fact that God had made me blind. Whether I suffered from the sins of my father or cursed for some sin in my mother’s womb, it didn’t change the fact that I could not see. I had survived. I had learned to live with it and even find a measure of contentment in my life. Now I was afraid.

God why have you turned your back on me? What must I do to be forgiven? Excited whispers around me jolted me from my thoughts.

“What is happening?” I lifted my head from my hands.

“Jesus is coming! The great Healer is coming!”

Blind leading the Blind

As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52

This story has intrigued me for some time. Going blind was a fear of mine since I was young. My optometrist told my mom when I was 13 that I could be legally blind by 18 if I didn’t get contacts to slow the deterioration of my vision. It worked, at ….somewhat older than 18….. I can still see, as long as I have my contacts in, but the fear has lingered. Therefore, the stories of Jesus healing the blind have always drawn me. This story attracts me especially, because Bartimaeus is one of the few names we have of those that were healed. The gospels of Matthew and Luke tell this story as well. They don’t mention the man’s name, but add some other details.

The main part of the story remains consistent. Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road begging, when Jesus comes by, he calls out for mercy. The crowd tries to silence him, but he calls out louder. Jesus has compassion on him and calls him closer and heals him. In Matthew 20, there are two men and Jesus heals them by touching their eyes. Luke 18 adds that he followed Jesus praising God.

I  have begun writing Bartimaeus’ story using details from all three gospels. To me, Bart is a man who had been born blind and has accepted his lot in life. He has taken a boy under his wing who has slowly lost his vision over his youth until he can he can see light and dark, but little else. On the day that they meet Jesus, Bart and the boy have to find their way through the city of Jericho without the benefit of their usual guide. Bart manages well enough until they reach the marketplace. They need to get across relying on their wits and their remaining senses. Can they do it? What happens to make Bartimaeus so desperate for healing?

Tune in next time for more….