Luke records a touching story of a blind beggar. Beggars were no more respected than they are today. We even have a derogatory nickname for them: bums. But beggars have one goal in this life–survival. Beggars are under-privileged because of life circumstances. Some have medical or mental conditions that render them unable to get or maintain jobs. Without income, nobody can eat or have a safe place to live.
When Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind beggar found out that Jesus was passing by. “And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Luke 18:38 ESV). And the people who were in front rebuked him and told him to be quiet. “But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (vs. 39). Jesus commanded that the man be brough to him and he asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The man goes on to ask for his sight to be restored. This was a huge ask, and clearly the man believed Jesus could do it. He could have asked for immediate needs like food, water, and shelter. But instead he asked for his sight to be restored so he could work and be productive. Jesus, of course, restores the man’s sight. He went on to follow Jesus and glorify God. We should have the same attitude of Jesus, offering mercy to the people who are most in need.
The past several weeks have been very challenging for us with several recent deaths. With every death we are reminded of just how short and precious life is. Each breath we take is truly a gift from God. There is much that we take for granted, there are lots of sins that we commit, and there are decisions we will regret. But God’s love is powerful, and he loves us anyway.
When our beloved friend, deacon, and brother in Christ died this past week, I was honored to be able to read Psalm 86 at the graveside. Bill had a love for both the psalms and music. Before his death he was working on a project to have a composer write sheet music to turn Psalm 86 into an A Cappella arrangement. Psalm 86 was one of Bill’s favorite psalms. It certainly has deeper meaning now, for sure.
Psalm 86 is about pleading for God’s mercy and receiving it because of God’s love: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you–you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day” (Psalm 86:1-3 ESV).
In this prayer of David, he recognizes how small he is in the presence of God, and that he is in desperate need of God’s mercy. It is because of God’s steadfast love that David received mercy, and David is giving thanks to God: “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol” (vs. 12-13). It’s important not only that we recognize God’s steadfast love, but that we extend it to others as well.