By Muyiwa Falope
“Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. Christ have our mercy, on me.”
Luke 18: 9-14, 35 – 43 contain two fairly known parables of Jesus. The stories seem quite simple and one actually has a happy ending. So why am I finding it very difficult trying to pen my “Afterthoughts?” I guess the very simplicity of these parables, is in itself a strong challenge towards finding direct applications. Therefore I am very grateful to Norm for sharing with us the real essence of these two parables.
In the first parable Jesus presents two men who went to the temple to pray. The first one, a Pharisee in thanksgiving boasted to God of his religious accomplishments. The other one, a tax collector aka sinner, in humility, asked God for mercy. Jesus ended the parable by saying that the sinner actually received what he requested – mercy and justification while the Pharisee went away empty.
I guess it is fair to ask who we individually represent in this story. Frankly, I think I represent both in my attitude and words to God in prayer. When I feel strong and in control of situations around me, the tendency is to think there must be something I am doing right, and to foolishly in my prayer, speak like the Pharisee. However, when life is upside down and I feel vulnerable, ashamed and afraid, it seems quite easy then, to cry in prayer: “Lord have mercy on me,” just like the tax collector.
The man in the second parable had no one to introduce him to Jesus. His social status was a huge barrier – he was blind. As Jesus passed by, he used his strongest resource, his voice in crying out unashamedly, “Son of David have mercy on me.” The crowd of Jesus’ followers, you and I maybe, also presented a substantial obstacle in meeting Jesus as they asked him to keep quiet. But Jesus heard him, stopped and requested him be brought to him.
In love and compassion, Jesus neither presumes nor condescends when he asks the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” I don’t know what my response would have been in an equal circumstance, but can only pray, I would be as coherent as the blind man!
When we go to prayer feeling lost, overwhelmed, helpless or guilty, may these words from the sinner and the blind man flow effortlessly through our lips, to God who knows all things: “Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. Christ have our mercy, on me.”
Listen to this sermon here!
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