For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 4
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 3—4; 1 John 3; Nahum 2; Luke 18
TODAY I SHALL REFLECT ON Luke 18:31-43. These verses are divided into two sections.
The first section (18:31-34) constitutes a prediction of Christ’s passion. It reports one of several times when Jesus tried to warn his disciples what would happen when he went up to Jerusalem for the last time. Despite the explicitness of Jesus’ language, the “disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about” (18:34). From our perspective, this side of the cross, we might wonder how they could be so thick. What they suffered from was a narrow focus of vision equivalent to having blinders on. Their conception of Messiah was that he was triumphant. Certainly Jesus had the power. The kind of person who could heal the sick, raise the dead, still storms, and walk on water could certainly take on a few Roman legions; he could certainly turf out corrupt officials and impose justice on the land. Besides, couldn’t all of Jesus’ expressions be understood in some way other than the way Christians take them today? In the Old Testament (the disciples might have recalled) the title “Son of Man” is only rarely messianic: of whom, then, is Jesus speaking? Perhaps the handing over of this “Son of Man” to Gentiles is a temporary thing prior to his dramatic rescue in the final fight—that is, he will “rise again” (18:33).
In broader theological terms, the disciples had not come to terms with the fact that the promised king from the line of David would also be the suffering servant. Their expectations were bent; they could see only what they expected to see. On the broadest horizon, that is one of the effects of the corrosive, blinding power of sin: it so dulls our vision and disorients our perspective that it shuts off crucial parts of evidence so we cannot see the truth and the greatness and the glory of God’s revelation.
The second section deals with the healing of the blind man sitting by the side of the Jericho road (18:35-43). Unlike the disciples in the previous verse, who doubtless thought they understood something of what was said, even though they didn’t, this man knows he is blind. Others try to quiet him; he will not be silent, but calls all the more strenuously: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (18:39). Jesus heals him; the man sees. And that is always what is needed: for men and women to admit their blindness and cry to him who alone can give sight. Otherwise, no matter how many words are spoken, their meaning will be hidden.