October 27, 2022

Have Mercy on Us

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There’s a blanket of spilled yellow leaves sprawled across the City Hall lawn. Low rising sun slowly moves shadows back into buildings, cars. The regular group of old men and women who meet at the coffee shop across the street are sitting at the wire table in sweatshirts, stocking caps, sipping their coffee like it’s a lifeline against the chill.

I’m tucked away in my little corner nook next to the kitchen, candle wick lit and coffee steaming ribbons into the air. Today I turn to Matthew 20, where two men who cannot see are struck by the rising noise of a crowd. When they learn Jesus is passing by, they raise their voices. The Jesus they have heard of, here in the flesh!

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Their urgent cries are carried on the wave of the procession, as a large crowd follows. People around them turn and rebuke, give a sharp reprimand and reminder to keep their voices down.

But they do not know desperation like these men, these cast offs who have spent their days begging for bread because they can do nothing to provide for themselves. They see a chance, so they raise their voices even louder.

“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus turns, finds them, calls to them. Asks one simple question: “What do you want me to do for you?”

The crowd goes silent, shocked that the Teacher is addressing these men, is reaching out.

The blind men respond, voices aquiver. “Lord, we want our sight.”

Straightforward. Honest. Desperate.

The pause of breath between the spoken and unspoken must be an eternity. But we get to read that Jesus had compassion on them, His heart went out to their suffering, broke with their earnest desperation and faith. He reaches out His hands, touches the soft skin of their eyes.

Immediately, sight comes, and the first image these men see is the face of Jesus, Son of David, who had mercy.

*

This blaze of orange outside against a sharp pastel blue sky won’t last; this season is already slipping away. In the harvest, life is preparing to tuck away for a long winter, a shutting down and hibernation. It looks like death. Feels like it, too, when there’s nothing but cutting wind and piles of snow for months on end. But do we look close enough to see what is taking shape? We, too, are the blind men sitting by the side of the road, with our suffering, with our hurt tucked deep within. Have we begun to lose hope in any way? Do we wonder if we are seen?

Jesus walks our way. Will we cry out? I wonder, are we ever so desperate like these men that our need overshadows any fear or doubt? Do we yell when the One who can help us is drawing near? And when He turns towards us, when He asks us what we want for Him to do, what is our response? Are we that honest? That straightforward and simple?

May Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us. May we have hearts to ask for it, to seek. Jesus’ compassion has no stopping point, and He is asking us today, “What do you want me to do for you?”

What do you want Him to do for you?

Are we willing to tell Him? Are we ready for that much intimacy?

The group at the table still sits in the cooler sunlight, laughing. A big yellow lab pulls her owner away from their walk to the table, finding the jolly man in the burgundy zip up who unzips his bag of dog treats. He keeps a bag with him each day for the passing canines, allows a brief pause for their owners, a quick conversation.

Even dogs know who has the kindness for them.

How much more do we know the One with kindness in His eyes, who stops on His way to bend down and ask our searching hearts, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Oh Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us.

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