This is my favorite statue in one of our local cemetaries. It reminds me of my favorite novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany (if you have read the book and notice the hands here, you’ll understand). Anyway, I have photographed this statue from a variety of different directions over the years but until this morning, never from behind. Its a very small statue (at most 2′ tall, but probably more like 18″) and so I had to get down pretty far to get this shot (which probably looked pretty funny since I was in a full suit since I just got finished leading a funeral and a committal service). Anyway, I wanted to try to see things from the perspective of the statue – what is s/he looking at or who is s/he looking for? What is the hope that is being pleaded for?
There are three stories that make up the reading for this week and two of them deal with people seeking to see Jesus – Bartimaeus (not named in Luke, but he is in Mark) is a blind beggar who is calling out to Jesus only to be shouted down by the crowd. All he wants is to see (which Jesus does for him). The third story is not a healing but is another story of one trying to see Jesus – in that case, it is that Zacchaeus cannot see over the crowd and climbs a tree to get to see Jesus. As a tax collector, he is of a career that people despised, yet Jesus calls him down and asks to eat at his home (#scandal). There is a longing search that Zacchaeus was doing as well, although different from Bartimaeus’.
As I drove through the cemetary this morning, I thought of the family whose loved one we just said goodbye to. What longing is taking place for them? What prayers are they offering up? What longings am I offering up in my life? What about for the world? What about for others? What about for my city? What about for the church I serve? What about…
Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.
As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.
He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”