**The following is adapted from the account in Matthew 20 and told from the perspective of one of the twelve disciples following Jesus.
Jesus told us about what will happen in Jerusalem while we traveled the dusty roads toward Jericho. I am appalled. The celebration of Passover is sacred worship. How can I ever prepare for the horror of the religious leaders of our Jewish nation sentencing him to death? Then handing him over to Gentile leaders who will treat him cruelly, mock him, beat him with a whip, and the end result of excruciating crucifixion. How can they think so little of our Lord who shows us what God is like? A criminal deserves this kind of death but not our Messiah.
Tension is mounting between Jesus and the leaders but surely there is another solution. Why doesn’t God deliver him? I can’t bear the thought of my friend and leader suffering; much less not having his miraculous presence on a daily basis. Jesus has told us about his suffering before but we don’t want to believe it.
When we arrive in Jericho, I am growing tired from the walking and the heat. It feels good to rest for a minute. We need to save our strength. Bethlehem lies down the road and then we will come to our final destination of Jerusalem.
The crowd presses in with many eager faces wanting to see Jesus. Staying within eye sight of the disciples grows harder. I think, how can the leaders put Jesus to death when throngs of people clamor for his attention?
The smell of sweat lingers in the air; the dust flies upward as we leave Jericho. My ears detect loud shouting from two men on the side of the road, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The shouting gets louder. People in the crowd silence them with harsh words. Don’t distract Jesus right now, he’s on a mission. Do not yell for help – only those walking with Jesus benefit from his attention. You are making a scene so shut up!
The men’s desperate cries for mercy continue. Jesus stops. He surprises everyone by asking the men to move toward Him. A bigger surprise, “What do you want me to do for you?” The answer seems so obvious because we all recognize their handicap of blindness.
Why did Jesus ask? Perhaps He wants the two men to bring to the surface a deeply buried desire after many years of hoping to regain their eyesight. They’ve given up on many days, living in despair and shame about whether God cares. To voice the desire means owning before God their longing and a willingness to exercise faith in the love of our Heavenly Father.
Maybe Jesus asks for the sake of the hardened hearts of the crowd. He cares about the desires in the human heart, the marginalized and the magnified. He wants the two men to know their longing merits his attention. Jesus again proves His mission of exercising authority on behalf of the helpless. I too often mistake his mission for overturning Roman rule.
“Lord, we want to see.” The plea stirs Jesus’ compassion as he heals them. The men join the crowd and follow Jesus. I realize Jesus deeply cares for the desires of a person’s heart. And yet in His wisdom, He recognizes what fragile human nature fails to understand: the deepest desire is to experience His love and presence. Jesus’ actions toward the blind men reveal His longing to remove every barrier – whether shame, fear, or unbelief -which hinders a person from truly seeing Him.
I recall to mind Jesus’ words of what will follow the horrors of Jerusalem: He will rise on the third day!
I don’t know what rising on the third day means. However, I feel more hope I will not be without Jesus. An unfamiliar longing rises up to see him rule on a grander scale than what I could ever imagine. My desire for God’s goodness is always realized in Jesus’ presence. A peace washes over me as the shadow of Jerusalem draws nearer.