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We want to be more like Jesus

October 6, 2019

The Gospel writers tell us that a ‘great crowd’ was following after Jesus as he passed through Jericho. In the midst of all the excitement and hullabaloo, Jesus spotted a short guy sitting on a branch up in a sycamore tree. Zacchaeus was a tax-collector. Despised and distrusted by the law-abiding people in the crowd, Zacchaeus was an ‘outsider.’ But he was curious about Jesus. Some of the people in the crowd got pretty rattled when Jesus stopped and talked to Zacchaeus. They got even more bent-out of shape when Jesus stopped by the tax collector’s house for tea. Zacchaeus was a ‘sinner.’ Saints aren’t supposed to talk to sinners.

A summer intern takes blood pressure during a mobile medical caravan in GhanaAlong that same road, there was a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. When he heard that Jesus was about to pass by, he loudly yelled, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The people in the crowd rebuked him and told him to be quiet. But he cried out all the more. Amazingly, Jesus noticed his voice above the noisy commotion. He immediately stopped and commanded, “Call him here.” A handful of guys went over to the blind beggar and said, “Cheer up. He’s calling you.” Throwing off his coat, Bartimaeus sprang up and came to Jesus. When Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” the blind man replied, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Jesus said to him, “Go your way; for your faith has made you well.” Immediately, Bartimaeus recovered his sight and followed after Jesus.

There were three kinds of people along the Jericho road:

1. There were the tax collectors and blind beggars. They were real people with real feelings, thoughts and longings. They looked to Jesus for help.

2. There were the people in the crowd. They were fans of Jesus; loved His teachings and thought His miracles were cool. They considered themselves followers of Jesus, but they were oblivious to the Zacchaeus’ and Bartimaeus’ beside the road. Even worse, they judged hurting people and treated them as if they were a distraction.

3. Lastly, there was Jesus. He noticed the ‘outsiders.’ He heard the desperate voices of the lost and broken, above the din of the crowd. When he heard those cries, he stopped, gave His full attention, and took action. The guys who followed Jesus’ command to call Bartimaeus joined Jesus in His mission and became participants in His miracles of transformation.

I suppose that there’s a bit of Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus in all of us. We all have great needs that only Jesus can meet. There’s also something of ‘the crowd’ within each of us. We can easily be put off by the overwhelming neediness and brokenness in our world. Yet hopefully, we all want to be a little more like Jesus. We want to hear the cries and notice the longings. We want to stop and give our full attention to those in need. We want to be like Jesus.

Thank you for praying and giving toward the people and projects of Reach Beyond. Your sacrifice and generosity enables our people to be the voice and hands of Jesus among those living in some of the world’s most needy and broken places. When you give, you become a participant in countless miracles of transformation as we reach out to the Zacchaeus’ and Bartimaeus’ of this world. Thanks for joining with us!