As you go about your day-to-day life with the rush to work, or to the market, do you pay much attention to those you pass by on the way? We must cross paths with thousands of people in our lives, maybe ten or hundreds of thousands. But do we see them, really see them?
Jesus in His travels passed by people, but we are given the accounts how three (that I am looking at here) individuals which were both figuratively and actually at the side of life were brought into focus by Him.
In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus is called from His journey by the pleas of Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar. He called for Jesus’ help. While there were those who tried to silence him, Jesus calls the man to Him. The healing of Bartimaeus’ blindness was quite public, but that isn’t the issue. Jesus had time for the man. Do we hear the pleas of those calling for our help? Do we take the time to respond?
Luke 19:1-10 relates Jesus’ encounter with a tax collector named Zacchaeus. This man was a social outcast (a waysider) because of his service to the Roman authorities. He was also, we are told, a short man. We can reasonably infer that he was literally easy to overlook especially in a crowd. This man however wanted to have a look at Jesus. No calling out like in Bartimaeus’ case, but a discrete climb into a nearby tree to get a look. It was from that position that he heard Jesus’ call: “Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today.” He was not only noticed, but interacted with in a surprising way. The social outcast was called to the social interaction of a meal. Do we engage with those others have moved to the wayside? Jesus did.
In Matthew 9:20–22, Jesus is moving through the crowds, when a woman with a medical condition reaches out to touch the edge of His clothing. He stops and asks who had touched Him. His disciples see this as a strange question as they are in a crowd and many people would have bumped or touched Him. But he notes that there was more to the encounter, for power went out from Him. The woman confesses to being the one, and that she was embarrassed to address Him directly with her need. He affirms her faith, and tells her she is healed. He doesn’t scold her for bringing her “uncleanness” to Him, or for touching Him. He accepts her at the level she initiates. Do we?
There are many other places where outcasts and misfits are engaged by Jesus. What these waysiders offer is a challenge to keep our eyes open for those who may be overlooked by us. We too were once waysiders, but we were seen and called.