Be Moving Luke 18:35-43

 Mez McConnell is the pastor of Niddrie Community Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. Mez was raised in a broken home and turned to drugs and violence as a teenager.  His violence landed him in prison.  While in prison, two Christian men came to visit Mez.  He was skeptical of Christianity and his only prior experience with Christians was not positive. He was impressed that these Christians drove over 300 miles to visit him and share the message of Jesus with him. As he was getting ready to be paroled, he needed a place to live and was invited into the homes of one of these Christian men who drove over 300 miles to share the message of the gospel with him.  Mez had never experienced such love and mercy from another human being. This love and mercy that was foreign to his life of poverty, drugs and violence broke Mez’s heart with the gospel of Christ. 
            Mez was transformed by this gospel and decided to spend his life sharing this message with the world.  After finishing Bible college, Mez wanted to return the favor of these men who moved towards him with the gospel in moving towards others with the same message of hope. Mez founded a ministry called 20schemes to plant gospel-centered churches in the poorest neighborhoods of Scotland.  20schemes moves church planters into the poorest communities or schemes in Scotland to reach the social and spiritual outcasts with the hope of Jesus Christ.  Their ministry of moving towards sinners with the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a life we all should model.

            As Christians, our lives should always be moving towards sinners with the gospel. As a church, we should always be moving towards sinners so that they can experience the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. This should epitomize our lives because it epitomized the life of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was always moving towards sinners. Over the last several weeks, we have followed Jesus’ journey as He makes his way towards Jerusalem.  He has met a broad cross-section of society from lepers to Pharisees, poor widows to rich rulers calling all of them to come and follow him.  Jesus was always moving towards sinners and I pray we will follow his example.

Be Moving towards Sinners

            It is important to remember that the last person Jesus encountered was the rich young ruler. Jesus told him that to inherit eternal life, he had to let go of the one thing that was keeping him from Christ (his riches), and to come, follow him.  The rich man went away sad because he would not let go of his riches so Jesus continues his journey and meets someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. Luke 18:35-37,

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

Luke does an excellent job using space to identify favor.  Twice in his section he uses “near” both in verse 35 and in verse 39. Luke is drawing attention to the movement of Jesus. 

            He drew near specifically to Jericho. Jericho was where the Lord told Joshua to march around the city and blow the trumpets to bring the walls down. Luke mentioned Jericho in chapter 10 in the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. In both stories, salvation is a very key theme connected to Jericho. The blind man sat begging on the roadside near Jericho waiting for salvation and he hears a crowd coming.  He is curious why there is a crowd and is told that, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

            Jesus always appears to be passing by sinners.  Jesus lived so that he would be passing by sinners.  Is that your life? How often are you in situations where you are passing by sinners? Or more accurately, directly going towards sinners?  Beloved, we are so often too comfortable in the walls of the church. We would much rather gather with one another rather than go with one another to sinners in our community. How do we expect the lost to be saved unless go to them?       

            John 20:21, “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” God the Father sent Jesus to sinners and Jesus is sending us to sinners.  So if we are not moving towards sinners, are we being obedient to Jesus?  We cannot shield ourselves from sinners, but we must go to them.  How do we model a life where we are moving towards sinners? Let me offer a few suggestions:

Open your Home: One of the best ways to reach those who do not know Jesus is to invite them into your home for food and fellowship. Share your lives with one another. Allow people into your lives so they can see what truly matters to you.

Shop and eat at the same places: When we frequent the same places, it is easier to build relationships with the people who work there.  Be nice and make friendly conversation. Ask questions and listen.  Regular three to five minute conversations can produce long term relationships.

Workplace: Be a good employee. Work hard at your job as if you are working for the Lord not man. Exercise fairness and kindness in how you supervise your employees and in how your honor and respect your coworkers. Show a vested interest in the people you work alongside, not just to get them to come to church, but because you genuinely love them and want them to experience the grace of Christ in their lives.

Recreation: Make the most of your hobbies.  Whether it is golf or kayaking, invite non-Christians to enjoy those activities with you. Parents, make a point to develop relationships with the parents of the other children at ballet or soccer.  These are opportunities that are right in front of us if we are intentional.  

Arrive early/Stay Late: The key to moving towards sinners (and saints) is relationships. It takes time to build relationships with people. Can I challenge you to work hard to get to places early and stay a little while afterwards so that you can be intentional in building relationships?

Jesus took time to move towards sinners.  This is the essence of the gospel. Jesus came to us who were far from God to bring us near to the Father through his life, death and resurrection. He is now leading us to spread the knowledge of Him everywhere including to those who are still far from God. Ask this question to each other today during lunch, “How can we move more towards sinners?”

Be Merciful towards Sinners

            The only way for sinners to experience God’s mercy is through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus not only moves towards sinners, but is merciful towards. Luke 18:38-42,

And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

It is important to notice how different this blind man responds to Jesus compared to the rich young ruler. The rich young ruler had everything, but could not see who Jesus truly was while this blind man had nothing, but could see clearly.  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” He did not call him Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus, Son of David.  He identifies Jesus as the Anointed One or the Messiah. 

            After David brought back the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the Lord makes a covenant with David, 2 Sam 7:12-14,

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

God promised to establish a forever kingdom with a forever king on a forever throne.  All of Israel was waiting for this Son of David to come and establish His kingdom forever. The Scripture reveals that this Son of David is Jesus of Nazareth.  This blind man appeals for God’s mercy from the Son of David. 

            Now notice those who were crowded around to see Jesus.  They had come to see the same Jesus, but they did not understand who he truly was just like the disciples did not grasp that Jesus was the Messiah (v. 34). The crowd did not show the blind man mercy or allow him to call out for mercy, but attempted to silence him. 

Isn’t it amazing how often people attempt to silence those who speak about Jesus Christ’s true identity? From school officials to government leaders, the leaders of the crowd are working to silence believers from calling out and from extending mercy.  1 Thessalonians 2:15-16 says that the Jews, “displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved.” Anyone who works to hinder the proclamation of the gospel is opposing all mankind because it they are silencing the only means of salvation.  It is as if someone drowning and refusing to throw them a lifesaver or starving and refusing to give them food.

Although the crowds attempted to silence the man, the blind keep begging for mercy.  Notice the end of verse 39, “But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” We can never allow people to silence us for crying out to the Son of David for mercy.  He is the only one who can give mercy.  Jesus looked at him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” If Jesus looked at you and asked you, “What do you want me to do for you?” How would you answer? This man answered with that which he had longed for again and again, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”  He wanted to see and the Lord gave him sight. Focus on the last phrase that Jesus said: “Your faith has made you well.” 

      Friend, if you are a not a follower of Jesus, the Bible says that you are not well, but sick. We are sinners and separate from God. Our sin causes spiritual blindness hindering us from seeing our real need.  The only way you can get well is if you realize that you are helpless and blind and then to call out for mercy. Mercy is not getting what we do deserve.  We all deserve hell for our sin, but thanks be to God, who moved towards sinners through Jesus Christ to give us mercy. Jesus died in the place of sinners for whoever would call out for mercy and recognize Him as Lord.  We have hope in Christ because after his death, God raise him from the dead.  So now we have the promise that for those who are in Christ, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives, and we shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Friend, turn from your sins and trust in Christ.

Be Moving towards the Savior

The blind man was not like the rich young ruler, but tax collector and the persistent widow. The outcasts were the ones to experience God’s mercy not the rich and powerful.  This story of the blind man is the real-life illustration of the one who humbles himself will be exalted. See how the blind man responds to the Lord’s mercy, by moving towards Him, verse 43,
And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

The man received his sight and followed Jesus.  The same invitation to follow Jesus went out to the rich young ruler, “come, follow me” (Luke 18:22), but he didn’t accept the offer.  The offer went out to the one who had everything, but he loses it all, while the same offer goes out to the one who had nothing, but he gains it all.  The proud will fall and the humble will be exalted. 

            The blind man received his sight.  His faith in Christ made Him well.  He moved towards his Savior and glorified God.  This is what we are all called to do.  We are called display our faith by moving towards Jesus and glorifying God. We draw near to Jesus by reading and meditating on His Word, by praying and serving Him in the church.  The promise of the Scripture is when we draw near to Jesus, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). But notice the results when we move towards the Savior as this blind does, “And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.”

            Our drawing near to God is never only for ourselves, but it is also for those who are around us. We have the great privilege and opportunity to help others experience a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ by how we live.  Our lives will always affect someone else.  I have been reminded often this week about Paul’s words about Timothy in Philippians 2:19-21,

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

It is easy to find people who are concerned with their own welfare and not those of Jesus Christ.  What set Timothy apart was how he was genuinely concerned for the welfare of others and for the glory of Jesus Christ and not only for his own interest. 

This should be the regular practice in the local church. As members of the same body, we should labor to show our love for one another. I have countless examples of “Timothy’s” in our church, those who show a genuine interest in the welfare of others. My heart is often encouraged as I look at the faithfulness of brothers and sisters in our local church as they express a genuine and sacrificial love for one another. Likewise, my heart is grieved when I see individuals concerned with their own interests rather than the interests of the others in this local body. I pray we would be a church where it would not be rare to find “Timothys,” but rare to find “Diotrephes,” who was described in 3 John 9 as one, “who likes to put himself first.” Ask yourself are you more like Timothy, “who is genuinely concerned for others,” or like Diotrephes, “who likes to put himself first?”

            When a person places their faith in Christ, their main aim is to please Jesus and to live for His glory. And when Christians follow Jesus, something amazing happens. Others will follow Jesus too.  We see this in Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

And again in 1 Peter 2:12,

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

And again in Philippians 2:14-16,

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life,

As we move towards the Savior, we become spotlights to the world of his glorious grace.

During a power outage everything falls to darkness.  Darkness overtakes the light. In that darkness a very powerful tool is a flashlight.  A flashlight breaks through the darkness enabling sight, but a flashlight is useless if it is without power.  We are flashlights of God’s grace in a world of darkness, but we are useless if we are not charged with God’s power.  God wants to use his people to shine his grace to a lost and dying world.  How do we shine? How does God want to use us to be lights to this world?

            As mentioned above, we are lights as we live holy lives. As we walk closely with Jesus, our lives are changed by his grace to reflect his glory to the world. People see our deeds and they give praise to God.  Yet we never want to draw attention to ourselves, but through ourselves to God.  We want people to see the light. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6,

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

When we move towards the Savior, we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord. We want the eyes of the world to be opened to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

            A blind man on the road begging for mercy, lost in darkness. The Savior moves towards him and he believes and his eyes are opened to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ so he follows Jesus.  And as he follows Jesus, others see it, and give praise to God. If you want to be used by God as a light to a dark world, you must draw near to the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Walk with Jesus and proclaim the gospel.  People will see your good deeds and hear your good words and when they see it, they will give praise to God.  Be always moving towards the Savior as you walk among sinners so that they will experience God’s mercy.  

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