Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 31 2013 - Matthew 20:29-21:22 – They received their sight and followed him

Matthew tells us of two blind men sitting by the roadside as Jesus passed by on his way to Jerusalem. Presumably these men took up this position daily so that they might beg for money or food from travellers going into or out of Jericho. They were always listening out for passers-by. On this day they heard a crowd coming out of the city. They must have begun to enquire what was going on from those on the fringe of the crowd and were told that Jesus was passing by. At this they began to shout for Jesus, the Son of David, to have mercy on them and nothing would persuade them to be quiet. The crowds found them an embarrassment and wanted to shut them up. But Jesus had time for them and asked them what they wanted him to do for them. They asked Jesus to give sight to their blind eyes. In response, "Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him" (Matthew 20:34).

The gift of sight enabled these men to follow Jesus. They no longer needed anyone to take them by the hand and lead them. Now they could see the road clearly. More than that, they could see Jesus and they did not want to let him out of their sight. So they followed him along with the crowd.

I’m intrigued by the story of these men. Did they continue to follow Jesus all the way up the steep and dusty road from Jericho to Jerusalem? Did they hear as Jesus sent off two of his disciples to fetch a donkey for him? Were they part of the crowd that accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, stripping off their cloaks and laying them on the path before Jesus? Did they take delight in running off to nearby trees and cutting off branches to roll out a green carpet for his entrance into the Holy City? Did they lead the shouts of the crowds declaring, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Were they among the first to answer the question from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, “Who is this?” with their assertion, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”?

And where were they a week later when the crowds cried out for Jesus’ blood and even the closest of his disciples abandoned him and fled? What had they really seen in Jesus? How far were they prepared to follow?

And this is the question for us also: What do we see in Jesus and how far are we prepared to follow? Jesus is the glorious Saviour who fulfils all of the promises of Scripture, but he also confounds human expectations. He is the servant King who came to Jerusalem not as a warrior prince riding on a war-horse but ‘humble, and riding on a donkey’. His kingdom was to be established through his own rejection, pain and death: no cross, no crown; no cross, no kingdom. Nor does he promise that things will be easier for those who follow him. How far are we prepared to follow?

Lord Jesus, help me to see you clearly and to rejoice in your transforming power that has touched my life. Help me also to follow you closely, especially when the road is rough and steep like that from Jericho to Jerusalem. May you continue that good work that you have begun in me that I may not turn back but follow joyfully and faithfully until I enter the Holy City.

Jan 31 2019 - Genesis 39:1-23 – Joseph and Potiphar

The Midianite traders sold Joseph as a slave to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's high officials. But though he is far from home and is in an alien environment Joseph is not abandoned; the Lord is with him (an echo of the promise to Jacob), and is intent on fulfilling his purposes through this young man. Nor does Joseph simmer with resentment at all that has happened to him; he seeks to act well and serve faithfully in this new and strange setting – serving not only his new master but also the Lord. And as a result he brings blessing to Potiphar's household – through him a family from another nation is blessed.

But Potiphar's wife took a fancy to Joseph and wanted him to sleep with her. Joseph continually refused saying that this would not only be a betrayal of Potiphar's trust but also a great act of wickedness; it would be to sin against God. Enraged, Potiphar's wife tells her husband that Joseph tried to rape her. Joseph is thrown into the royal prison. But even here Joseph is not abandoned; the Lord is with him and shows him 'steadfast love' – the Hebrew word is used particularly of God's covenant love and faithfulness towards his people (see Psalm 136). Joseph continues to act with grace and integrity and becomes a trusted prisoner, placed in charge of all the others.

What a contrast there is between this chapter and the one that preceded it. Joseph was conscious that everything he did, and even every thought in his heart, was in the presence of the sovereign creator of heaven and earth. He knew that the Lord was with him and he sought to please God in all things. In this, Joseph provides us with a model of how the child of God should conduct themselves in a hostile world. Acting with integrity and with an eye always to pleasing God will not guarantee an easy life – it landed Joseph in prison – but it will bring blessing of God to those whose lives we touch.

How can we train ourselves to a conscious sense of God's presence in all that we think and do? We could learn a thing or two from Brother Lawrence's classic little book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He was a man who was preoccupied with cultivating a keen sensitivity to the presence of God in everyday life and sought to encourage others to do the same. I also love and often meditate on the poem/hymn The Elixir, from George Herbert, part of which reads:

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for thee.

A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav'n espy.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws,
Makes that and th' action fine.

Loving Father, thank you for your promise that you will never leave me or forsake me. Thank you that I am embraced in the covenant love you have lavished upon me in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help me continually to be aware that I live in your presence, your love and your sight. Strengthen me by your Spirit that I may serve you faithfully in whatever situation you bring my way. Whatever challenges or troubles I may face, may I know the blessing of pleasing you and being a blessing to those whose lives I touch.

Peter Misselbrook