(continued from Flat Tire-d part 3)
I finished tightening the spare tire into place, cranked down the jack and methodically put everything away. I wiped off my hands and scuttled me feet, ridding myself of the misery of the greatest parking spot in the world. I started alone in my struggle, I lived alone in it, and I finished alone… because of the pass-by actions of the passer-bys.
Imagine the scene: the crowd was urging the man to shut up, rebuking him for begging the master’s attention. The crowd wanted to keep going… keep pressing forward… They had things to do, errands for Jesus to run for them, their own agendas to summon Jesus to complete. So this blind man’s trouble, plus his incessant yelling, was a nuisance.
This is the moment where I become so impressed by Jesus. He's got a lot to "accomplish" (which, by the way, is perhaps one of greatest under-stated truths I've ever articulated). Jesus– who had more pressure on his mind than anyone in that crowd could imagine (Remember: in just over a week’s time he would be crucified)– even though he had so much to "do"— Jesus heard the cries of the man.
And he stopped.
In other words, Jesus immobilized the world around him. He stood still. He leaned his ear towards the call. As a result, the storm and waves of the crowd were forced to a halt. Jesus listened to the shouts of a lowly man. The crowd must have been bothered by this. Their agenda was disrupted. But Jesus didn't care to please the crowd. In fact, Jesus told some of those around him to go and get the guy who was begging for him. "Bring him to me," Jesus ordered. Just like he had commanded the crowd to let the children come to him, he now commanded the crowd to enable this blind man come to him.
Out of this whole crowd, it is the blind man that Jesus sees. He said, “You were calling out to me. What can I do for you?” What an amazing question. Can you believe that God would ask that kind of a question to you; that God would stop the whole movement of the world if you cry out to him?
What, I wonder, would I have done had I heard someone ask me that question in the grocery store parking lot on that fateful Flat Tire-d day? Would I admit I needed help? This is the irony. If we need attention, and if we want attention, will we admit the attention when it is given? I have to confess that I felt quite independently indignant driving away from that parking lot. I had more justification that my suspicions just might be true: That neighbors are so self-absorbed that they won't even stop to help a guy in the parking lot change a tire. But I also have to confess, if I had been asked, I probably wouldn't have let them. I would have said, "Nah, thanks, I've got it." I am a man, after all.
There is something impressive about the blind beggar and also about Jesus.
I have come to believe that if you beg for Jesus, he will stop everything for you. And then he’ll ask you a very simple question: "Yes, you were calling out to me. What can I do for you?"
It seems that the blind man was ready. He knew what to ask and what to receive as soon as it was offered: for the one thing that would restore his life. Actually, it was more than a request, it was more of a petition. It was a quasi-imperative. It was as close to a demand as you can get. To the attentive King the blind man stated, “Lord, I want to see.” Literally, he said, “Let me receive my sight.”
We can learn a lot about faith by unpacking that simple request. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that “We live by faith, not by sight.” This blind man in that moment was alive through his faith in Jesus Christ…he had proven that by the way he had called out to him. He had given Jesus reverence precisely by persistently calling out to THE ONE who could help him. This blind man had faith before he ever asked for sight. Receiving the sight did not save him. Receiving Jesus Christ did, even when those around him thought he was ridiculous for calling out to the Lord. “Lord, I know that you have what I need. So I am calling out to you again and again! Would you share it with me?”
And what father, when his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
And this is the moment that Jesus became impressed with the blind man. Amazingly, Jesus orders the man to receive his sight. It’s an imperative. Literally, Jesus says, “Receive your sight.” Take it. Here it is. It’s yours. Receive it.
And the blind man did. And the first person he saw was Jesus.
His new focus on Jesus changed his life. He followed Jesus, giving praise to God. He was full. He had been granted mercy and salvation and healing… all because he had called out to God to notice him.
May you beg to be noticed today. May you boldly cry out no matter what people around you think. If you will be looked down upon, sneered at, or rebuked, may you even more so call out to Jesus! God will stop the earth for you. He will hold out his arms and ask, “What can I do for you?”
And after he fills you with the air of his Spirit, may you notice others who need acknowledgment. May you never again ignore, dismiss or rebuke anyone who is flat tire-d. My you never again ignore, dismiss or rebuke anyone who is crying for God. May you notice the call and stop to share the love of Jesus with them.
*"Flat Tire-d" was originally delivered as a sermon 8 eight years ago.