Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus
SEPTEMBER 21- Nº 264 Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35 – 19:10
As Jesus and his disciples continued their journey to Jerusalem, many people joined them. As they approached the city of Jericho, two blind men were sitting by the side of the road begging. One of them was named Bartimaeus. When he heard the commotion of the crowd going by, Bartimaeus asked what was going on. He was told that Jesus of Nazareth was traveling through town. When Bartimaeus realized that this was the same man who had been doing miracles all over Israel, he began to shout very loudly, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people at the front of the crowd rebuked him and told him to be quiet. But Bartimaeus just shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard this cry for help, he stopped and gave orders for the blind man to be brought to him. “Cheer up, and get on your feet,” someone told Bartimaeus. “Jesus wants to talk to you.” Bartimaeus immediately threw aside his cloak, jumped to his feet, and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. “Lord, I want to see,” the blind man responded. Jesus said to him, “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately Bartimaeus received his sight and started following Jesus and praising God. When the people saw what happened, they all started praising God, too. The chief tax collector who lived in Jericho was curious. He also wanted to see Jesus. His name was Zacchaeus. When he heard the excitement, he ran toward the crowd. But he was a very short man, and he couldn’t see over the people who had gathered. He was so curious to get a glimpse of the man everyone was talking about that he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree. Then he waited for Jesus to pass by. As Jesus came near the tree, he stopped and looked up at the man perched in the branches. “Zacchaeus, come down immediately!” he demanded. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and welcomed Jesus into his home. The people began to question Jesus’ actions, “Look at that! He has gone to be a guest in the house of a sinner!” they muttered in disgust. Because of their occupation, tax collectors were considered more unclean than lepers. Although they were Jewish citizens, they worked for the Roman government and much of their wealth came from defrauding their fellow citizens (see #227 - August 15). “The Messiah would never hang out with such sinners!” the religious leaders had reasoned. “Lord,” Zacchaeus announced as Jesus relaxed in his house, “I have decided to give half of everything I own to the poor. And I will repay the people I have cheated by giving them back four times more than I took from them.” Jesus must have smiled. “It is evident that today salvation has come to this house and that this man too is a son of Abraham,” he said. “This is why I came—to seek and to save those who were lost.” That day, two men in Jericho received sight—one physically and one spiritually. Jesus healed them both!
The crowd loved Jesus as long as he healed people physically. But when he reached out to “fix” people with spiritual needs, they were not so happy. When you bring Jesus the list of things that need “fixing” in your life, do you only include physical needs? Or do you include your spiritual issues as well? Jesus wants to “fix” both!