Reflections on Mark 10:50/ Luke 18:40-42
Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus.
…and when he came near, He questioned him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And he said, "Lord, I want to regain my sight!" And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
Mark 10:50 and Luke 18:40-42
Every eye was fixed on the beggar.
The crowd between Jesus and the blind man parted like the Red Sea. At once, everybody turned toward the man who jumped to his feet and ran toward Him, ran faster than the ones leading him, like a child exploding into joy.
“Son of David…”
We can see him now, looking every bit the part -- clothes, hair, dirt, bare feet, just not the face. Who can forget the face, wild and shocked, a smile stretching ear to ear in a blaze of happiness? The ones closest can hear him almost singing, repeating the same refrain over and over, “Son of David, He’s calling for me!”
Only seconds pass before the two men stand face to face. People are quieter now. They want to see what He’s going to do. I wonder if the beggar fell to his knees. Isn’t that what we do when we come into the presence of the King? And did he lift his hands into the air – as is his custom day after day – begging for mercy?
“Son of David, Lord, please…”
And I wonder what went through His mind when He first saw him. Did it remind Him of the day He asked His disciples: “Do you know who I am?” And Peter knew. And Jesus told him how he knew: “My Father told you that. He whispered in your ear and let you see what only few see and know what only few know.” Just like this blind man in front of Him, seeing what nobody else in the crowd can see.
The King didn’t need to use words. He could have touched his eyes and been done with it. But, instead, He questioned him. I wish I’d been there to hear it all.
The King: What do you want Me to do for you?
The Man: I want to see
The King: You already see. Everybody here thinks they see – but they can’t – you can. They’re the blind ones. Not you.
The Man: Have mercy, my Lord.
The King: Mercy has already come. My Father has opened the eyes of
your heart and given you faith to see all you need to see.
The Man: But my Lord, please. I want to see.
The King: (And with that, the King, moved with compassion, granted his
request.) Then receive your sight, the faith that makes you see
has made you well.
And it happened, just like He said. The scales fell from his eyes and he could see, miraculously see! And best of all, he saw the most spectacular sight ever.
The face of his King!
Did the people gasp with surprise as the beggar turned toward them? The poor, blind crowd – having no idea who this Nazarene is – awe-struck and amazed as they stared at the blind man who stared at them right back.
* * *
I re-read Eric’s story about Zan several times. It’s true of me too. There’s a vast sea of people I can’t see either. If I were to be honest, it’s what drew me to the beggar’s story. I’m the one always racing to the front only to find Jesus calling the one in the back. And what does He do? He makes me watch as He showers kindness and mercy on this man like a summer rain drenching the dry land.
Because kindness is who He is.
Because mercy is what He does.
I write Eric a quick note and copied Missy and Erilynne.
I come to the beggar’s story and I ask the Lord,
Why do You do this? Why choose the blind man?
Why make us see Your compassion for him?
Is this it? Is this how You get us to see You too?
Missy wrote back to all of us.
You make me think of Mark and Emmy. I miss them so much! Just the thought of Emmy singing in church brings tears to my eyes. Somewhere we’ve got an article Eric wrote celebrating her 25th birthday. We’ll try to find it and sent it along. Oh, and by the way, the first are still last, last still first – it’s a Kingdom of God thing!
She makes me smile, always has. Odd that I hadn’t thought about Mark and Emmy for years. He’d been an associate pastor under Eric eons ago. A gentle man, a kind soul. I didn’t remember the article but I did remember when Eric interviewed Mark. He’d called me soon after and was profoundly moved by his story. And so were we, some months later, when we finally met them both.
“I’ve got the article,” Eric wrote. “Will send a.s.a.p.,” and he did.
CELEBRATING EMMY’S 25th BIRTHDAY
Church Newsletter May 1997
We met at Ruby Tuesdays. “It’s Emmy’s favorite restaurant!” Mark smiled.
I’ve wanted to write Mark’s story ever since I heard it nearly three years ago. For whatever reason, we never got around to it. But now, on the eve of Emmy’s 25th birthday, we both knew it was time.
“Judy and I were married thirty-one years ago this August on Cape Cod,” Mark started. Emmy was sitting right next to him in her wheelchair. “A Justice of the Peace did it. Back then, we had no place for God in our lives. Judy was a school nurse and I was an accountant like my father. We didn’t have any big dreams. Just be happy, make money, and enjoy life. That’s about it.”
At the mention of Judy, Emmy smiled, saying, “Mama!” Mark told her Mama was working a shift at the hospital and gave her a sip of her Coke.
“Emmy came along six years later. We were told we couldn’t have children. So Emmy was a surprise. A good surprise! I can’t tell you how excited we were. Judy had a relatively easy pregnancy. We were expecting a healthy child.”
“So you had no idea there were complications?” I asked.
“No, not until she was born.”
“What was that like?” I inquired.
“We immediately knew something was wrong. The doctors whisked her away. A little while later, they told us she had a life-threatening defect in her heart which was affecting her lungs and breathing. On top of that, she had CP (cerebral palsy), she was blind and deaf. They didn’t think she’d make it.”
A big plate of French fries landed in front of Emmy who immediately squealed with delight.
“I’d never really prayed before,” Mark said as he fed Emmy her fries. “But I did then and I was very specific. I asked God to let her see. I knew I could handle everything else but not that. I needed her to see us, to see Judy and me.”
His voice faded as tears filled his eyes.
“We were three weeks in the hospital. They surgically corrected her heart issue and, around two months later, we realized Emmy could hear.”
“Hear and sing!” I interrupted. Will anybody ever forget Emmy’s face in church when she sings in worship? It’s a like a light from heaven beaming down on her.
“But she couldn’t see,” Mark said emphatically. “I needed her to see. So, one night, when she was six months old, I couldn’t sleep. I went and scooped her out of her crib, held her in my arms, and begged God to let her see. The next night, I did same thing.”
Then Mark nodded his head.
“She opened her eyes and I saw her looking at me. I moved to the left and her eyes moved with me. Then to the right, and she did it again.”
“And you knew…” I said.
“Yeah, I knew. God answered my prayers. One thing led to another, and soon enough Judy and I were in church giving our lives to Christ. All we could tell the pastor was that the Lord had given her sight and when He gave her sight, He gave us sight too.”
Emmy clapped her hands right on cue and then demanded more fries.
“It’s a simple story,” Mark said, looking straight at me. “Emmy is the best gift God could ever give us because she brought Jesus into our lives. She taught us – and still does -- that kindness is who God is and kindness is who He wants us to become.”
And with that, Mark handed me one of Emmy’s fries.
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