Jesus was Deeply Moved for the Two Blind Men

Jesus was Deeply Moved for the Two Blind Men

Jesus was Deeply Moved for the Two Blind Men.

“As Jesus approached Jericho an immense crowd gathered and followed Him. And there were two blind men sitting on the roadside. When they heard it was Jesus passing by, they shouted, ‘Son of David, show us mercy, Lord!’ Those in the crowed scolded them and told them to be quiet. But the blind men screamed out even louder, ‘Jesus, Son of David, show us mercy, Lord!’ So Jesus stopped and had them brought to Him. He asked them, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They both said, ‘Lord, we want to see! Heal us!’ Jesus was deeply moved with compassion (splagchnizomai) toward them. So He touched their eyes, and instantly they could see! Jesus said to them, ‘Your faith has healed you.’ And all the people praised God because of this miracle. And the two men became followers of Jesus from that day onward.” (Matthew 20:29-34).

splagchnizomai  (splawnk – NITZ – oh – mi). Don’t let that strange Greek word put you off. It turns out to be one of the most meaningful ideas in the gospels, and it describes Jesus to a T. Most Bible versions translate this word to mean “moved with compassion.” But somehow that translation doesn’t quite do it justice. One might even say it doesn’t go deep enough. The literal meaning of this word is “to have one’s bowels yearn,” which makes sense since the root word for it is “intestines.” Since the innermost organs were considered at that time to be the seat of human emotions, and since love is the emotion being implied, splagchnzomai could be understood as an experience in which true compassion has its beginnings from down deep in the gut. This word points to an intense emotional experience that is felt in the pit of one’s stomach. This profound compassion is not superficial by any means, not casual, not distant. This compassion is immediate and so deeply felt that it demands action. This compassion is so visceral that it must find an outlet, a target, in doing something physical and helpful.

As we deepen our union with Christ, as we live into His reality and character, we also live into His compassion, into being deeply moved to our very innards. As theologian Jeff McSwain once said, “If we truly are ‘in Christ,’ then just as we’ve been given the mind of Christ, we’ve also been given the ‘gut’ of Christ.” Every Christian, being a little Christ, will live into the possession of the sensitive gut of Jesus.

Here we find two blind beggars pleading for food or money outside of Jericho. They are outside the city gates, by the side of the road, uncomfortable embarrassments to the town folk. Jericho is a wealthy resort town run by the Romans, and they all find these two men repulsive. They are also living reminders that by Jewish law they shouldn’t even have to beg. The Mosaic Law (Lev. 25) states clearly that the Jewish people should take care of anyone in their midst with a disability. God didn’t like the idea of one of His chosen begging to survive.

These two blind men have probably heard that this roving healer/rabbi named Jesus is coming through town, and they believe Jesus to be the Messiah. There are rumors that He has already healed other blind men. So maybe He will heal them as well. The dust in the air is so thick, they can barely breathe. There must be a big crowd with Jesus. It doesn’t help that all the town dogs are barking in excitement as they scamper around all these people. They begin to think, how can we make sure Jesus sees us, no less hear us?

Even though they are now covered in dust, and swallowed up by the noise, they figured out how to get Jesus’ attention. They decided to give loud voice to their little bit of faith. They acclaimed Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, and did so without embarrassment. So they shout those words that they hope will stop Jesus in His tracks: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!” All the observant Jewish people knew that the anticipated Messiah, the Savior of the world, would come from the family line of King David. So, Son of David meant Messiah. They also knew that one of the main signs telling of the Messiah would be that He would bring sight to the blind (Isaiah 29, 35, and 42).  The Messiah would heal blindness, which was considered maybe the most spectacular miracle. They didn’t stop with calling Jesus the Messiah, though. They followed up with those two words that will stop Jesus every time: “Have Mercy!” Jesus loves to show mercy wherever He goes, and when you ask Him for it, it’s almost like you’ve put a wall in His way and He can’t go around it till He shows mercy. You ask Jesus for mercy, and you definitely have His attention.

Despite all the noise and confusion, Jesus heard their cries, and He stopped. All of a sudden, the crowd grew a bit quieter, wondering why the whole train of people have stopped too. What did all the people around Jesus start to say? They kept telling the blind men to be quiet, for many considered them big sinners who were cursed by God with blindness, unworthy to approach Jesus. So they probably kept saying things like,
Shush, shush! Jesus is a busy man and doesn’t have time for sinners like you two.” But the two blind men ignored them. After all, this was the chance of a lifetime for them! They will not be denied. They will holler at the top of their lungs, forever, if that’s what it takes to get Jesus’ attention. But Jesus heard, and He stopped. That in itself is a miracle.

Because the two men hoped in Jesus, they kept shouting. They didn’t give up. They trusted somehow that Jesus would actually heal them. Even though they never saw Jesus or any of His miracles, they believed in Him. So they didn’t hold back, they kept making a scene. So then the men heard Jesus call out to them, and their friends brought them to Jesus.

Jesus was walking along, and then He stopped. He stopped in the road to talk to two blind beggars. It seems Jesus was always ready to be interrupted. He was patient and observant in His kindness. Here He was, walking steadily down the road, probably thinking about His coming Passion in Jerusalem, and He still was ready to change His agenda. Jesus, always interruptable.

Amazing! Jesus touched two people who were considered untouchable. Isn’t a privilege for these two men that the first thing they saw was the face of Jesus?

It’s fascinating that Jesus healed blindness in so many different ways.  In Mark 10 He healed Bartimaeus with just a word. Earlier (Mark 8), He used quite an extended process to heal another blind man. He literally spit on the man’s eyes, and then touched them. The healing still wasn’t completed, so Jesus touched his eyes once again, and finally the healing was done. Then another time (John 9), Jesus healed a blind man by spitting on the ground, making mud, and then spreading the mud on the man’s eyes. Jesus then asked this man to wash off the mud in a nearby pool of water. Finally, that blind man could see. And then again here in Matthew 20 He is simply touching the eyes of two blind men. So there are four recorded scenes of Jesus healing the blind, and He healed those men in four different ways. Apparently, there is no one formula for His healing work. God is creative and rather unpredictable in His healing style, and so we shouldn’t expect all His miracles to look the same. Jesus seems to love doing the wonderful things in unexpected ways.

After they were healed, they immediately started following Jesus as they all walked down the road. The healing was not the end of the story. They started a new life of friendship with Jesus, following Him, obeying Him. They were healed in order to follow. And now with their new sight, they knew the right direction to walk in. Right at Jesus’ heels. Did they follow Jesus all the way to Jerusalem? Did they find other healed blind men on the road? Were they near the Cross when Jesus died? When Jesus heals us of our blindness, let’s be like these two blind men and follow Jesus down the road, to wherever that takes us.