Accompanying Jesus on the Road to Jericho (Luke 18)

The crowd jostles us as we walk down the dusty road, accompanying Jesus on his way to Jericho. We hear a beggar hollering from a distance. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

We walk further, drawing close to the man who has cried out for mercy. It is a blind beggar huddled on the side of the road. The crowd tries to silence him, but he persists. His cry is shrill the second time, desperate, like that of a wounded animal. “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Jesus commands the crowd to bring the beggar to him. Out of respect, we turn our faces away as he approaches. He is scantily clad; his thin robe barely covers his legs.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks. Without looking, we know that the eyes of our Lord are penetrating, filled with love and compassion.

“Lord, I want to see,” the blind man sobs.

Jesus’ voice is tender. “Recover your sight. Your faith has made you well” (Luke 18:35-43).

The Lesson

We learn a great deal about Jesus, his heart and his attitude toward our prayers when we look at his interaction with the blind beggar. Jesus doesn’t allow the crowd to silence the beggar. Instead, he calls him forth and inquires, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Our Lord isn’t interested in vague generalities. He wants us to talk candidly with him about the things that cause us concern or give us angst. For example, he wants to know if we’re concerned about our grandson’s ADHD or the crowd with whom our granddaughter is running. He wants to hold our tears when we cry about our son-in-law’s extra-marital affairs or our daughter’s opioid addiction. He wants to provide when we don’t know how we’re going to pay next month’s electric bill or raise four grandchildren who have been entrusted to our care.

An Inspiring Story

Recently, I heard an inspiring story about a fourth-grade student who believes in a God who asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” Her name is Allison (I changed the name, because she is a minor), and she is being raised by her grandmother. On most days, she is cheerful and upbeat. Sadly, her sunny disposition was eclipsed when she was confronted with the task of memorizing her multiplication tables. According to her grandmother, Allison dissolved into a puddle of tears at the kitchen table every evening, because she was unable to remember the product of seven times eight and eight times nine. Her fear of math facts was turning into a big, ugly monster.

One Sunday morning, Allison had an idea. “Granny, can I ask the church to pray for me?”

“Hmmm…,” her grandmother said, as she considered the gravity of the requests on their church prayer list. It included Agnes, whose husband recently died of a stroke; Tom, who was battling Parkinson’s disease; a husband and wife, both of whom were undergoing chemotherapy; and two members who lost their jobs in the recent shut-down. Where did multiplication tables fit on this list?

Allison noticed that her grandmother stalling. “You always say we can take anything to Jesus,” she argued.

“That’s true, but…”

“Why can’t I ask people to pray for me?”

An hour later, Allison stood in front of their church congregation and explained her dilemma. Everyone bowed their head as the minister offered a prayer of supplication, beseeching God to take away her anxiety and give her the ability to memorize and retain the multiplication facts. The church members, who promised to continue praying for her, were not surprised to hear that she passed her multiplication test the following week.

God’s Desire

Martin Luther said it best when he said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness.”

Today, can you hear Jesus asking, “What can I do for you?”

For more information about being an prayerful grandparent, please visit the Prayer Ministry of Christian Grandparenting Network’s Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/PrayerMinistryofCGN/