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Spiritual Blindness

There is a story in the Bible about a man who's eyesight was restored to him though one of the many miracles of Jesus. This story is recorded at the end of Luke 18.

"As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, 'Son of David, have mercy on me!'

And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' And he said, 'Lord, I want to regain my sight!' And Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.' Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God." (Luke 18:35-43 NASB)

"What do you want Me to do for you?" What a strange question for Jesus to ask. Wouldn't it have been obvious that the man was blind? The Bible says that he sitting at the edge of the road begging. People must have been able to see that something was wrong with this man. But yet Jesus asks him what He can do for the man.

A quick back story - during Jesus' time period the common held belief was that a person would be cursed from birth because of the sins of their parents. They would be afflicted with some physical condition; blindness, deafness, some physical handicap, etc... Those in religious leadership would teach that the person needed to suffer in order to understand the seriousness of sin. They would teach that somehow by suffering the afflicted person would have a chance to overcome the generational sin and be able to enter into eternal life.

The religious authorities probably had told this man at some point in his childhood that his blindness was God's punishment on him. (What a messed up teaching!) It seems this man must have internalized this because his initial request for Jesus was a plea for mercy.

Mercy translated here comes from the Greek word ἐλεέω. It means to help someone that is afflicted or someone in a wretched condition. It often times goes beyond the physical condition and speaks to the spiritual condition. Wrtched in the Bible usually refers to the state of being overcome and overwhelmed by sin. The man is asking Jesus to have compassion on his sinful condition. He is seeking divine grace, to be both forgiven and healed.

But Jesus proceeds to ask this man a question - "What do you want Me to do for you?" I don't believe this was ask with any rudeness in His voice or asked as a way of indicating that He wasn't willing to help the man. Rather, I believe it was asked for the man to really think about what he was asking from Jesus.

In other places in Scripture the person who is making a healing request of Jesus starts the conversation with a request to be forgiven. He is gracious and knows our hearts and minds and often is willing to heal someone completely, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But here in this story the after being asked, he asks for his eyesight to be restored.

Not only does Jesus restore this man's vision, he affirms his faith. He tells the man and the gathered crowd, this And Jesus does it. Jesus doesn't stop with restoring the man's sight, He tells him that it was his faith that made him well.

My question for you is, where do we see faith displayed in this story?

His faith is being affirmed, but it isn't as clear to see the display of his faith.

Again the Bible says that this man was sitting at the side of the road begging. He had learned to depend on the kindness of others to meet his needs. Since he was blind and cursed by religious society, he was unable to work. He had to depend on others.

On the particular day that Jesus was passing through town, he shifts his dependancy from the donations of others to complete dependance on what Jesus was able to do for him. Once he heard that Jesus was near, without hesitation, he began yelling out for Jesus. He wanted Jesus to take notice of him.

And his cry for Jesus was for mercy on him. Not deterred by those telling him to stop yelling out for Jesus, the Bible says this man, "cried out all the more..." He knew that Jesus could do something for him. He know that Jesus could speak to his wretched state. He knew that Jesus could make him whole.

Jesus did take mercy on him and not only came over to him but engaged in a conversation with him. Jesus was able to speak to his heart which resulted in the man's eyesight being restored.

This man trusted more in the words of Jesus than in the "popular" religious teaching of his time?

He trusted in Jesus who restored his vision. But even before his physical eyesight was restored, be displayed that he had spiritual eyesight. He was able to see through the religious teaching of being cursed because of his parent's sin. He was able to see through the discouragement of the crowd that tried to silence them. He say past his current condition, being blind, to the condition he could be in after an encounter with Jesus, eyesight restored.

the Bible says that because of what happened with this man and his praising God, other people gave God praise as well. God used this man's testimony to encourage others with what is possible through faith in Jesus.

This story has to do with faith based eyesight. However, just before this story is another story about the disciples not having their eyesight opened.

It is recorded in Luke 18:31-34;

31 Now He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that have been written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be ridiculed, and abused, and spit upon, 33 and after they have flogged Him, they will kill Him; and on the third day He will rise.” 34 The disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.

The disciples were unable to comprehend Jesus' words. They didn't understand what He was trying to share with them. Plainly He tells them why he was going to Jerusalem; to be betrayed and crucified. They missed it. He then told them something that would have saved them a lot of hurt and confusion, that He would rise on the third day. But they missed that too.

They didn't see what Jesus was trying to tell them. They had been with Jesus for years and should have been able to understand what He was telling them here. It isn't the first time Jesus had shared the plan with them. But they were blinded by their vision of what they wanted Jesus to do.

Instead of following faithfully after Jesus' plan, they wanted their plan to be accomplished. They wanted their agenda to override Jesus'. As a result they couldn't comprehend what Jesus was saying. They couldn't see the clear path that Jesus had just set out for them. They needed to be healed of their spiritual blindness. As a result, their next many steps were taken with presumption instead of faith. This is why they were shocked when Jesus was taken captive and eventually was hanging on the cross.

However, the man who's eyesight was restored, understood Jesus' purpose and plan. He was able to make his request in full faith. He was able to make a spiritual request while physically blind that resulted in his eyes being fully healed. He was able to experience a wonderful blessing of God - full restoration.

As we think about this man;

May we see things more clearly.

May we move forward exercising the great faith of this man.

May we better understand the purposes of God in our lives.

May we strive to live in the time Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face..."

Today's Prayer, "Lord, open my eyes that I may see who you really are and what you are willing to do in and through my life. Lord, may we see you face to face. Lord, may you cure me of my spiritually blindness. Thank you, Amen."

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