If you happen to have a Bible nearby, it might be helpful to flip open to Matthew 19 & 20. Or if you're on a device, you can pull it up on a trusty Bible app or read it here. Just a quick skim of the passage or at least a look at the chapter headings will be a good refresher for the rest of this post.
These two little chapters are sandwiched between the transfiguration (ch. 17) and the triumphal entry (ch. 21). They are composed of a series of surprising (and seemingly random) short scenes of various people interacting with Jesus. However, if you look closely, you'll see they all share a common thread. Well, two threads, actually, for the purpose of our thoughts today.
For one, each separate vignette depicts a person (or people) approaching Jesus. Notice the wording (in the ESV translation)...and Pharisees came up to him and tested him (19:3), then children were brought to him (19:13), and behold a man came up to him (19:16), then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons (20:20). Even the laborers in the parable similarly came to the master to receive wages and then consequently grumbled (20:9-11).
The point is, each one of these individuals sought out the Master.
Sure, their motives may have been different, but nonetheless, whether to test him or to seek blessing, answers, or future favor and privilege, they all one by one confidently and boldly approached Jesus.
All that is, except two. Two blind men at the end of chapter 20. They didn't dare approach Jesus.
Because they knew who they were. The outcast ones. The forgotten, pushed aside, disenfranchised, poor, blind, beggars of the town. But even more importantly, they knew who Jesus was. He wasn't just a good rabbi. And he was certainly something more than just a future political king of Israel. They called out to him as Jesus, Son of David. Messiah! These two blind beggars were clothed in both rags and humility. They knew they were in the presence of the King of Kings...no, they didn't dare approach him.
But, you see, the first ones in this section-the Pharisees, the rich young man, the disciples, the laborers, James' and John's mom-they all came to Jesus sharing a second common thread among them. One after another, they all came to him seemingly right in their own eyes. Sincere in heart, perhaps...The rich man genuinely wanted answers about his salvation, the disciples were protecting Jesus' time and ministry, the laborers in the parable had worked a legit, hard twelve hour day, and James' and John's mom was boldly looking out for her boys.
But...carefully consider each encounter.
Wouldn't it be right to say they were all a bit presumptuous? One by one, they each came to Jesus wearing cloudy lenses constructed by frameworks of what they thought right and wrong. Their hearts had each been persuaded by a brazen sense of entitlement.
Might it be, then, that they were the ones who were blind?
Now consider the ones who actually received the touch, healing and blessing of Jesus. Was it zealous pharisees? Passionate disciples? Mrs. Zebedee on her knees displaying a credible amount of faith in the future kingdom? No. Instead, it was two blind men and a group of kids.
You see, when you look at the whole scope of 19 and 20, the painted portrait is that of individuals coming before the King of Kings with good intention.
And yet, all of them lacked something. They all kind of "missed the boat" in some way or another. They all were approaching Jesus out of their own framework, their own sense of right and wrong, their own sense of entitlement (however big or small) and their own presumptuous pride that had ironically blinded them from the One standing right in front of their very eyes.
But to the ones who desperately knew their need, to those who knew their only hope was the mercy of Jesus, to those that were desperate, empty, small, throwing all their hope on him...It's upon those Jesus looked with compassion and reached out his hands to touch, bless and heal.
He asked the two blind men the same question he asked Mrs. Zebedee. "What do you want me to do for you?" But the answer was different because the blind men's hearts knew their true need. "Lord, we want to see.", or literally, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." And to that, Jesus in pity (in compassion, in gut-turning lovingkindness, and with a heart full of sheer mercy) touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and did what the others did not do...they followed him.
The Pharisees, the rich man, the laborers, the mother...they all turned away in their own blindness. But the once blind men responded to their healing in the fullest sense. Their faith had been made sight.
I don't know about you, but this text has been a gut punch for me the past couple weeks. At times I can approach Christ Jesus with an ignorant and foolish sense of pride and over-confidence in my own opinions and ideas. I come before him in my own constructed, ad-hoc framework of the way I think reality should be and it blinds me from seeing Jesus for who he is -Jesus, Son of David!-and myself for who I am-blind, lost, empty, and desperate for him. It keeps me from experiencing the presence of Christ in my life. I am left missing the boat...living in and for kingdom values that are not necessarily those of the Kingdom of God.
So, my prayers have been a bit more simple as of late. A bit more unassuming. I've prayed for the Spirit to work in me the pure faith of a child. And I've tuned my heart to the desperate cry of some blind men whose greatest appeal was for God's tender mercy. A great mercy that he has poured out on us in the cross of Christ. Now, before slinging lofty ideas, opinions and especially grievances before the Throne, my prayer is simply, "Lord, I just want to see."
I want to see and follow. This is his kingdom. We are his servants. Let us come to him with hearts postured in humility before him as Jesus, Son of David, and as those desperate for his merciful touch that brings healing, fullness, hope and life.
ps...I also want to express thanks and give credit to my beautiful, creative, intentional, humble, friend, Kris, for capturing the image above of the light at the end of the tunnel :)