What is it that they say about March coming in like a lion and then going out like a lamb? I'm guessing that the end of March would have to be pretty lamb-y to make up for this year's lion-ness. But then again, looking back at last year's Sunday Morning Updates, March started off with a big snowstorm then, too, so maybe we should just get used to it.
In the service this week, we started up our month-long emphasis on supporting Covenant World Relief--the agency within the Evangelical Covenant Church focused on physical ministry to underdeveloped and troubled regions around the world. This year's emphasis is on providing clean water to people who struggle with the most basic of all physical needs. Did you know that every day, 7000 children die from totally preventable, water-related diseases? In regions where children are bathed in the same rivers that people wash their clothes in, dump their sewage into, and collect their drinking water from, it's hard to overestimate just how important it is to provide clean water to those communities. Just think about how healing their bodies can provide a foundation for understanding how Jesus wants to heal their souls.
In our message this week, we looked at two blind men who were healed by Jesus on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. Healing their eyes not only gave them back their sight, but also turned them into followers of Christ.
But there was another unfortunate context for that miracle. Even after preaching about "the first being last and the last being first," and even after sharing a parable about vineyard workers to flesh that out, Jesus had to deal with the fact that His disciples were still arguing amongst themselves about which one(s) of them should get the highest rewards, the best thrones, the first places of honor.
This is even though, in His parable, He'd chastised the foolish for being jealous of how the vineyard owner had blessed others, saying, "Is your eye evil, because I was good" to them? Are you so committed to looking with such malice on your brother that you can't feel joy when I bless someone else in ways that I haven't blessed you?
After all of that, when James and John brought their mother to request something from Jesus, He asked them, "What do you want?" and they answered Him that they wanted Him to honor them above all the other disciples.
This is the context for the miracle when, only eleven verses later, He used the exact same words to ask the blind men, "What do you want?" And--in stark contrast to the disciples--they answered Him that they simply wanted to be able to see.
The disciples used their sightedness to look with evil eyes against one another, while the blind men--even in their blindness--could see their simple need just for Christ's touch in their lives.
So how about you and me? Are we blind to our real needs, or do we see them clearly? Do we use our eyes to let God's light into our lives, or do we use them to be envious of our brothers and sisters?
Take a moment to self-evaluate just what kind of "bad eyes" that you may be struggling with today...