How do you preach the same message in different ways every year? Pastors aren’t allowed to change the Christmas story! This Advent, though, we want to remember the wonder of Christmas by meditating on why Jesus came. Jesus came as a Savior to heal (Luke 18:31–43), save (19:1–10), reward (19:11–27) and reign (19:28–40). What did Jesus come to heal? Luke 18:31–43 spells out how Jesus came to heal our blindness.
We are often blinded in disappointment to the surprising work of God in suffering around us (Luke 18:31–34). Disappointment grows when we are surprised by suffering. Throughout Luke, Jesus repeatedly taught his disciples (who expected painless victory; see Mat 20:20–28 and Mark 10:35–45) that the way of the Son of Man’s victory was through suffering (18:32–33). Through his mocking, shame, flogging and death, he would rise from the dead. Jesus fulfills prophecies of the Son of Man (18:31) whose authority comes through suffering (cf. Dan 7:13–14, 18, 21–22, 25–27). However the disciples are blind to how suffering paves the way to authority (Luke 18:34). How will Jesus heal that blindness?
Jesus healed blindness as we cry out to him (Luke 18:35–39). Throughout Luke 18 people persistently cry out to Jesus (Luke 18:7, 13, 15, 38–39) since we “ought always to pray and not lose heart” (18:1). Similarly this blind man hears of Jesus coming and cries out for mercy (18:38), and when he is rebuked he simply cries all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (18:39). Similarly if we are to be healed from our blindness, we must ask. Unlike the disciples who did not ask when they did not understand (18:34), this blind man inquired (18:36), cried out to Jesus (18:38–39), and responded to his questions (18:41). Similarly when we are disappointed by the surprising work of God around us, we should ask. We should inquire. We must cry out.
As we cry out, we are healed to follow (Luke 18:40–43). Jesus asks the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” This obvious question belies the importance of relationship — Jesus wanted to connect with this blind man. The blind man articulates a clear and specific request, “Lord, let me recover my sight” (18:41). Specific prayers bring specific answers; Jesus responds, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well” (18:42). Jesus does exactly what he asks, and the blind man “recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God” (18:43). He was healed to follow.
Similarly we are often blinded in disappointment when suffering follows obedience. Jesus wants to heal our blindness to the role of suffering in following Him. Have you been disappointed by suffering? Cry out to Jesus, and let him heal our blindness. Through suffering we follow Jesus as we take up our crosses and step into his authority to reign.