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  • David Bent

Noticing the Beggar (06-04-22)

Background

After Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain in the north of Israel, he set his face to go to Jerusalem, in the south, where he knew he would be arrested, tried and crucified. And yet, on that momentous journey, followed at times by crowds of people, he had time for the individual.


Bible Reading: Luke 18:35-43

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.


A Reflection:

I don’t find it easy to know how to respond to people who are begging on the street or sitting in shop doorways with their dog and with a cap out for loose change. It’s very easy to make assumptions and to fall into judgement of them as questions go through my mind like, ’Why are they begging?’, ‘Will they spend it on drink or drugs?’, and ‘Would I be better to buy them some food?’ It is hard to know what the best way is to help.


As Jesus approached Jerusalem and encountered a blind beggar strategically sitting by the main highway, there were clearly many voices around him urging the beggar to be quiet and encouraging Jesus to walk on by, but I doubt that was what the voice in his head was saying. The begging now had become personal rather than general as the beggar learnt who it was that was walking along the road and so he cries out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" But what does mercy look like for this beggar? Is mercy for him a cash handout or is it something else?


And so, Jesus does what I fail to do, he ignores the crowd of onlookers and talks to the individual, asking him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The answer he gets is not a request for money but for healing; he wants to be able to see.


Let us not judge the poor by assuming what they need or how they spend their money but let us respond with the compassion of Jesus as we try to help meet their needs.


There are times we also call out to Jesus for mercy, whether it is for ourselves or for someone else. In the same way that Jesus asked the blind beggar, "What do you want me to do for you?", I think Jesus would say the same to each of us. When it comes to prayer, it is good to be specific. General prayers can end up a bit vague and woolly while specific prayers tend to be more positive and faith-filled, and God responds to prayers that are prayed in faith.


If Jesus was to say to you today, ‘What do you want me to do for you?" How would you respond?


Pray:

Lord Jesus, as you respond to my needs with compassion,

remind me to respond with compassion to those in need around me.

Amen


With a prayer you fed the hungry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvCpUb9obHQ

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