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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Insights into Jesus in Jericho

Luke 18:35-43
35 And it came about that as He was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting by the road, begging.
36 Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this might be.
37 And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
38 And he called out, saying, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
39 And those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he had come near, He questioned him,
41 "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!"
42 And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
43 And immediately he regained his sight, and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
Luke 19:1 And He entered and was passing through Jericho.
2 And behold, there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; and he was a chief tax-gatherer, and he was rich.
3 And he was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.
4 And he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house."
6 And he hurried and came down, and received Him gladly.
7 And when they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner."
8 And Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much."
9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.
10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

While these two stories are separated by a chapter division in Luke between 18 and 19, they certainly belong together.

The first thing that should be pointed out is that both of these events happen in the city of Jericho. That famous city whose walls were destroyed by the trumpet blasts and yelling of the Israelites in the days of Joshua.

Historically, Jericho was the first and greatest of strongholds in the land of Canaan. It is this city that Joshua (which is the Hebrew name of Jesus) comes to conquer first. In the time of Joshua, this city was spiritually filled with the blind, while being materially rich.

They were rich because the land of Canaan was flowing with milk and honey. Yet, they were blind because they failed to recognize the living God that lead the Israelites. Hagar, a citizen of Jericho, had this to say:

Joshua 2:10-11 "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. "And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

So if I had heard that this God who defeated the greatest army at the time, namely the Egyptian Army, I don’t think I would have too much faith in that wall around my city, unless, of course, I was blinded by sin.

Now, we see Jesus visiting this city and curing them of their blindness.

Both the blind beggar and Zaccheus want to see Jesus but are disrupted by the crowds.

I think that it is significant that both of these men face trouble from the crowds, yet somehow find a way to overcome these obstacles. One overcame the diversity by crying out in faith and the other had to literally climb above the crowd.

I think we all know of people who turn a blind eye toward Christianity and Christ. We need to be their light, and make sure that we aren’t the ones, by our example, who are keeping them from Christ.

Or maybe like Zacchaeus, all that some outside of the Church can see is the crowd mulling about, claiming that Christ is among them. Due to our hypocrisy or their shortsightedness, Christ is not seen. Those folks need to be lifted up in prayer that Christ might visit their home and bless them.

Both men are blessed by Jesus and are in a sense cured of what ails them. The blind beggar cured from his blindness and Zaccheus cured from his defrauding.

Once these obstacles are removed, the new disciples are then free to not only follow Christ, but also to begin living in faith a children of God.

Finally, on an apologetic level, we see that both faith and works are what saves a person. The blind man demonstrates his faith by crying out above the crowd. This faith saves him. Zacchaeus’ faith is never once mentioned, yet is put into action by the very presence of Christ.

Both faith and works are necessary for salvation.

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