As Jesus was coming near Jericho, there was a blind man sitting by the road, begging. When he heard the crowd passing by, he asked, “What is this?”
“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they told him.
He cried out, “Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
The people in front scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on me!”
So, Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Sir,” he answered, “I want to see again.”
Jesus said to him, “Then see! Your faith has made you well.”
At once he was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving thanks to God. When the crowd saw it, they all praised God. (Good News Translation)
This is one of my very favorite stories in the entirety of Holy Scripture. And I will tell you why….
Because Jesus listens with ears of mercy.
Jesus was headed to Jerusalem and had a lot on his mind and his heart. He knew what was coming, that his passion and death awaited him. No one would fault Jesus for not hearing a blind man shouting. But Jesus was listening so that he might hear someone just like the needy blind man. Rather than being distracted and lost in his head, Jesus was just the opposite – being attentive and aware of the humble folk right in front of him.
Because Jesus speaks with words of mercy.
Once Jesus listened, he responded by asking a question. I am impressed with Jesus throughout the Gospels. Christ gave people the gift of choice. He acknowledged people and respected them by not simply and indiscriminately healing, as if he were some fix-it guy. Jesus Christ bestowed on the lowliest of people the human dignity of choice by empowering them to answer a question.
Because Jesus pays attention with divine appointments of mercy.
Our Lord took the time to heal the blind man. Jesus could have simply healed him without even stopping his journey. He could have just waved his hand and the man would be healed. What’s more, Jesus could have even started a healing factory where everyone with a need got healed: bring ‘em in, move ‘em out, and keep the line moving. Jesus was doing more than giving sight; he was giving a man the blessing of time and personal attention. The Gospel is never impersonal, which is why we ought to resist being non-relational in ministry to others. It isn’t simply about meeting a need but about blessing other people with the gift of relationship.
Because Jesus reaches out with the touch of mercy.
Jesus touched the man’s eyes (Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-54). He didn’t have to do that. The Lord of all most certainly could have healed without touching. In fact, it most likely may have been downright gross. A lot of people had eye diseases with runny pussy eyes in the ancient world.
Because the blind man didn’t listen to the crowd.
I really love that! Maybe it’s the rebel in me. I just believe it is such a beautiful thing whenever someone refuses to be shamed by another and embraces their need. That is exactly what the blind man did. He not only refused to give-in to peer pressure, but he also responded to them by shouting all the louder. May his tribe increase!
Because the blind man could actually see.
The man already had sight – not physical sight but spiritual eyes which could see better than anyone else in the crowd. One of the great ironies throughout the Gospels is that the sighted crowd seems to never see who Jesus really is, while blind folk see Christ clearly for who he is: the Son of David, the rightful king, the Savior of all. It matters not how much faith one possesses but in whom that faith is placed. A thimble-full of faith is enough to move mountains, while a water tower full of faith misplaced in someone else cannot even provide a single glass of refreshment.
Because the blind man followed Jesus.
Once healed by Jesus, there were plenty of persons who simply walked away and went about their lives. Yet, this man, who was given the gift of physical sight, started following Jesus and giving thanks to him. It feels a lot like my own testimony of experiencing the love of God in Christ and not ever wanting to leave it, so I’ve been following Jesus for over forty years, still having gratitude in my heart.
Because one lowly non-descript blind man made a difference.
I don’t think the man ever set out to change the world. Yet, he did. Here we are reading his testimony all these millennia later. At the time, please take note that one man becoming a disciple of Jesus and living a life of gratitude changed the entire crowd from being a group of shushing church ladies to a robust throng of worshipers. One individual makes a difference. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of David, heal me, a broken person.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of Man, help me, a lost and lonely individual.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on my love-starved soul. Amen.