Spiritual Blindness

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “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.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
—Luke 18:35-43, NIV

Once I attended a church in downtown Washington, DC, right in an area where there were a lot of street people. Almost every Sunday, a few of them would come into the church and sit in the back pews and watch the service. They were scary people, because they were toothless and dirty and they hadn’t bathed or changed clothes in months; but they were harmless because they were severely withdrawn.

One day an bearded old filthy man came into the church. He looked like the picture of Abraham in my old Bible, and if you got within a couple of yards of him, your nose would suspect he might really be that old. You see, on that fateful Sunday, he did not sit in the back pew, he sat right smack in the middle of our squeaky clean congregation, in the midst of our refined and sensitive noses! We had learned not to fear these people, but this day we made an exception when right in the middle of the sermon he began shouting Hallelujah! Glory to the Lamb! and other such things. Then he began to preach to us, confirming what the pastor had said in the sermon, quoting the Bible from memory.

The pastor was clearly terrified during this ordeal. The whole church service had gotten out of control, and he didn’t know what to do. Neither did we! But after the patriarch had finished, he departed while calling down blessings on us all. We sat there in shame, condemned by our expectations of chaos and the blessings we had received instead.

Well, now I understand the reaction to the blind beggar at Jericho, shouting out to Jesus from the crowd for mercy. It was a formal occasion, the town was welcoming a famous figure, and the blind man was ruining the show. They told him to shut up and mind his manners.

But Jesus singled out the man, and asked him what he wanted. Then, He healed the man’s blindness. However, Jesus didn’t heal the blindness of the crowd who tried to restrain him.

Son of David, have mercy upon us; give us our sight!

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