November 15, 2021 - Lessons from the Blind - A Reflection on Luke 18:35-43

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.

You probably know the story of Thomas, the apostle who said he wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead unless he saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his finger where the nails were (see John 20:25). When Jesus appeared in front of Thomas, he allowed the apostle to clear his doubts, but then said: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29). 

The beggar in the story today—Mark tells us his name is Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:46-52) — literally cannot see, but he believes and is blessed for it. It is a story of tremendous faith that we should all learn to have. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Bartimaeus sought Jesus and was rewarded for it. 

That is not the only lesson to be learned from this story. A second one is that people are going to try to stop you from receiving this reward. Paul says that: “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). These unbelievers are also blind. Bad enough they don’t seek the light, they will try to prevent you from finding it too. Don’t let them intimidate you. Bartimaeus didn’t. 

A third lesson to remember is that Jesus always hears our cries and is ready to help us. Remember, there was a massive crowd following Jesus, and crowds are noisy. Very often, you can’t hear yourself think over the noise. But Jesus heard Bartimaeus and asked that the beggar be brought before him. He wanted to help, but before he did that, he asked the man a question: What do you want me to do for you?” This brings us to a final lesson. 

We need to admit our disabilities, but more than that, our need for Jesus. So many times, people come to me asking me to pray for them. I point them towards Jesus, telling them that they have to call out to him and tell him how much they need him, but many cannot do that. They have their own beliefs about how God will bless them, and often Jesus doesn’t factor into this. 

So, if you have a problem, you now know what you need to do.