Thursday, March 16, 2006

Persistence by Faith

Luke 18:41
"'What do you want me to do for you?' And he said, 'Lord, I want to regain my sight!'"

What a question to be asked by our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is a theme of persistence that is clearly evident throughout this chapter, first seen in the parable of the widow seeking protection from her opponent (vv. 1-8). She "kept coming" to the unrighteous judge who did not fear God or man. With this judge she was so persistent that he was bothered to the point of granting her what she had requested. The unrighteous judge hated the thought of her continually coming to him with the same thing, knowing that she would wear him out (v.5), that he almost selfishly gave her protection from her opponent. The widow knew what she wanted and she also knew with certainty that the unrighteous judge could provide her protection.

Then Christ asks a question that should cut to the heart of all His children: "Hear what the unrighteous judge said, now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?" (v. 7) We are reminded to hear (and in hearing, remember) that this unrighteous judge who grants requests to a widow he does not know because of her persistence. Then we asked that if this is the case, how much more then will the righteous, just God do for those who He has called and elected? Will He delay long?

This is all tied to faith. As the widow had faith in an unrighteous judge, Christ asks "when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" Is He going to find faith like the widow--a persistent, consistent faith in He who has power and provides?

The last section of this chapter is not a story, but a clear example of how this persistent faith can play out. Bartimaeus, a blind man, was sitting on the roadside begging when he heard a crowd going by Him. He inquired and found out that Jesus of Nazareth was passing through. That was all he need to hear because he then began to cry out to Jesus:

"Son of David, have mercy on me!" (v. 38)

From his spot, he was screaming in hopes that Jesus would hear him. The text does not reveal to us how close or far Jesus was from Bartimaeus; He could have been 10 feet away, 100 feet away, or 1000 feet away! But that did not stop him. Nor did those who were at the front of the pack. The one's closest to Jesus in physical proximity were trying to ward off the pesky blind beggar on the side of th road. They didn't want themselves or jesus to have anything to do with him. But similar to the wido, Bartimaeus was persistent. What may have seemed a near impossibility, especially with so many obvious obstacles--blindness, the distance of Christ, others telling him to stop--did not keep Bartimaeus from his pursuit of the mercy of Christ.

What mercy was he seeking? Is it the mercy we all seek from the Living God? How could Christ grant him mercy? Bartimaeus knew something many who were following Christ did not; he knew something many who are following Christ forget.

As the widow "kept coming," Bartimaeus "kept crying out" to Jesus, begging no longer for money or food, but for mercy from the Son of David! "And Jesus stopped..." He command that Bartimaeus be brought to Him. Then the one question that would make the hearts of us all stop, "What do you want me to do for you?" It was the persistence of Bartimaeus that gave him quick access to the righteous and just God-Man. The mercy sought by Bartimaeus was both miraculous and practical; he wanted his sight to be given to him.

So Christ grants Bartimaeus his sight, saying "receive your sight; your faith has made you well" (v. 42) Important to remember is that the persistence of both the widow and Bartimaeus only existed upon the foundation of their faith in those who could grant their requests
But as we know now, the mercy we all must seek in Christ is not only practical, but essential, necessary, and an even greater miracle, for He does not only have the power to grant sight to the blind, He has the power of eternal life--"there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

We must remain atuned to the truth that as we are now saved by Christ through His death, and given life through His resurrection, are also given the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). This salvation came by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and it is this same faith that we claimed at the onset of our relationship with God that must stir us to persistence in seeking God for His protection, mercy, and provision. Let us not lose hope on He who has always proven faithful to us!

By His Grace...
...For His Glory

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