And though in my mind I have pictured some sort of gigantic van, I know that they didn’t have on at that time and were walking. Walking along, two men are sitting by the roadside, blind. Sitting there, passersby might have taken pity on them and helped to meet a need.
If you ever cover your eyes with a scarf and try to operate for a while, you may notice that your other senses start to grow sharper. Hearings, smell, taste, touch all start compensating for the loss of sight. So imagine these two men, sitting on that road. Perhaps the sun was out that day and they were feeling heat, listening to the sounds of people passing on the road, maybe bugs were out buzzing (and bugging), the smell of people who have walked and their animals could have drifted by. But if these two men sat there often, this would all have been familiar to them. Then, something strange happens – there is a crowd walking past and the men hear news.
Jesus is coming!
What fabulous news for all of us to hear! How did they respond? “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 20:30). Mercy, shouting for mercy! It was a cry of help! What a great response to Jesus. We all need help and when we hear that Jesus is passing by, we can either cry out for mercy, try to ignore the crowd, or hide. These men showed wisdom in their pleading.
The crowd’s response was to tell the men to be quiet. Shhhhhhh!!!!! Can’t you hear it now; practice it in your very best movie librarian voice. Don’t interrupt us, don’t bother Jesus, and don’t get in my way! We do that too don’t we? That person has something wrong with them – don’t look, don’t ask, don’t talk, don’t, don’t, don’t.... Or better yet, let’s hide what’s wrong so that nobody else knows. We have an inner Shhhh at times that comes out, telling us that it is just too minor, major, horrible, silly, etc... to be shared.
So again – I applaud these men, they were not daunted by the crowd, but shouted out even louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 20:31).
Jesus stopped, called the men to him. “What do you want me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32). These few verses are just packed with information! We learn more about Jesus here. He knows what is wrong with these men. He knows about their vision, about every cell and every hair, every hope and every dream, every wrong and every right that has ever surrounded these men. But, he stops to ask – what do you want me to do? Jesus does that for us too. He doesn’t charge in and make us change. Instead, he calls to us, stops for us, and then asks us about the change. What love that is! Think how we would rebel if it was pushed on us, instead we are wooed.
What did the men want? Their sight! “Lord, we want our sight.” (Matthew 20:33). Can you imagine the butterflies in the stomach, the elbowing and jostling in the crowd, the excitement in the air? Sight for these men carried so much with it, possibilities and freedoms that were currently unattainable.
Jesus had mercy on them, he had compassion, and he knew that he could heal these men and what it would mean. Jesus “touched their eyes.” (Matthew 20:34).
What I would give to have been able to see those men’s faces as they took it all in. What was the first thing they saw? Did they know what their road side compatriot looked like? Did they hear familiar voices in the crowd and start putting faces with them? We don’t know if they had always been blind, perhaps they had never seen sunlight or starlight, shadows, green leaves, and the dust of the road. There would be so much to do right then, I think I would want to go five directions at one time! I want to see everything!!
But, these men “received their sight and followed him,” (Matthew 20:34). They received their physical sight, but they also followed Jesus, receiving the sight of their souls. Jesus did have mercy on them.