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There are few stories of the encounters that Jesus had with people along the way of his travels which are as familiar to us than the story of Jesus dining with in Jericho. Indeed, its very familiarity and the way we usually tell just this story as a single event, often from a picture book if we have children, may have ingrained within us a particular emphasis for this story that we might want to challenge a little this week. Seeing the story in the context of the rest of this section of the gospel, and particularly following last week’s story of the rich man and the poor beggar Lazarus, may help us to do that. In this week’s passage from Luke we begin a little before the familiar story of Zacchaeus with Jesus creating his own setting for the various encounters as he prepares to go up to Jerusalem with the disciples. Jesus explains how he will be mocked, ridiculed and excluded, before rising on the third day. The disciples do not understand. They do not get what Jesus is saying. They cannot see the big picture, focusing rather on the exhilaration of the present moment. Thereafter follow two stories that reverse the exclusion that two different men experience. One man is excluded as a result of his lack of sight, the other because of the divide between himself as a tax collector and the people of Jericho who do not trust him, whether they have good reason or not. Here again, we have the word ‘divide’ that will hopefully bring recollections of last week’s reading and reflections. In the first story, we have a blind beggar who seems to grasp just who Jesus is, you could even say he gets it before the disciples do. This blind beggar will not be silenced and proclaims Jesus to be the Son of David. In response to Jesus’ question of “What do you want me to do for you?” he answers “Lord, let me see again.” The blind beggar has his sight restored and he immediately began to follow Jesus, glorifying God as he does. I would guess he was just as noisy after his healing as he was before it. We are told that all the people, when they saw it, praised God. We then have the story of Zacchaeus and his change of heart and the ultimate declaration of his salvation and his identity as one of Abraham’s sons. We are not told if the people of Jericho believed or experienced Zacchaeus’ repentance, but we are told that the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost. Jay Robinson

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