This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent day 17: Lord, I want to see

Steve Kimes is a pastor of the homeless in Portland, Oregon. He writes for MennoNerds and has a publication on Amazon, Long Live the Riff Raff: Jesus’ Social Revolution.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Isaiah 11:2-4

The beggar held his cup.

When he was young, he used to be led to this corner by his family, but he knows the way so well that he needs no one’s help now. Some days his work pays well, especially holidays. Other days there wasn’t enough to buy a crust of bread.

His family was gone now, and no other was interested in bringing a blind man into their clan.

A blind man still hears things, though. He hears about the local politics. He remembers when Herod brought his armies through the region. Luckily, they ignored him. Now the crowds gather for a different kind of man, Jesus. They say that he is a king, of sorts, but the kind that actually fulfills the words of the prophet Isaiah. He heals the sick, he preaches good news to the poor, he rebukes demons and infuses the insane with rationality. He heals the leper. He gives real hope to the people who really need it.

The crowds walked by, and the blind man knew it was Jesus. The crowds cried his name, all attempting to get his attention. The blind man can’t walk through the crowd. If he left his corner, he would be lost.  His only hope is to be louder than the crowd.

The blind man wept and cried. Strangers around him told him to be quiet; that there are others who really need the attention of the great one.

The beggar shouted and mourned all the louder. Harsh men told him to shut his mouth or they would shut it for him.

He screamed his plea, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Finally, and just in time, he had Jesus’ attention.

Jesus smiled a smile the beggar couldn’t see, but somehow could hear and said, “Your faith is great.”

The beggar was hungry; hungry for justice. Years he wasted, sitting on this corner. It was time for him to act, with what little he had. It was time for him to change the world. Finally, he had hope, right in front of him, within arms’ reach.  The beggar couldn’t know if this Jesus was a man of justice, the man he had heard about. But at least now he had hope.

Jesus asked him, simply, “What can I do for you?”

The beggar was stunned. He couldn’t think of anyone—literally anyone—who had asked him this question. Everyone was telling him what he needed, telling him what he should do.  They were all saying,

“See this man, he’ll pray for you.”

“Take this herb, it will cure you.”

“You should go to this doctor.”

“Stand here.”

“Get out of my way.”

“Shut up.”

“Shut up.”

Shut up!

All his life he was treated as a child. Everyone seemed to know his life better than he did. Even those who had pity on him were pushing him around, insisting. Intentions were good, but no one understood what his life actually meant. Who he was, what he wanted to do. No one listened.

But here is Jesus. This king. This mystic. He could read minds. He could pinpoint the desire of one’s heart. He could look at the social situation and grasp exactly what was needed. He knew, he already knew.

But still he asked.  He didn’t assume he knew. He wanted to hear. It wasn’t enough that he met the need, but he gave the blind man equity; an equal place in conversation and in authority. He gave the poor what no one gives them—a place to decide for themselves. As Jesus often did, he placed himself below the poor one, and listened.

The man said, “Lord, I want to see.”

And because that was what he wanted, Jesus gave it to him.

Because that’s the kind of king Jesus is.

As the beggar regained his sight, he thought, “This is the man I want to be. One who listens. One who gives power to others.”

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