Two blind men were sitting by the road. Hearing that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd following Jesus sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more. Jesus stopped and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” “Lord,” they said, “we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately, the men regained their sight and followed Him. (Matthew 20:29-34 NIV, edited)
IF EVER THERE WERE a Bible story that pointed out what’s wrong with the church and its mission outreach, this is it.
Here was Jesus walking along a dusty road followed by, what various translations call “a large crowd,” “a great multitude,” “an immense crowd,” — basically, the church at the time — when they passed by two beggars on the side of the road. The beggars were blind and seeking alms.
While they could not see the proceedings, they could hear the pounding of sandaled feet, the excited murmur of voices, and the general hubbub associated with the assembly of many people.
When they heard the commotion was caused because Jesus was present, they reached out to Him for help. “Lord, Son of David,” they called out. The phrase, “Son of David,” was the Jewish phrase for the long expected Messiah, so, in truth, they were acknowledging the Divinity of Jesus.
And what was the multitude’s response? The Jesus followers. The disciples, groupies, hangers on, and wannabes. You know, the church!
They told the blind men to “shush,” that they were a bother. Jesus’ followers (the church, at the time) was too busy following Jesus to pay attention to human suffering along the roadside.
AHHH, BUT NOT JESUS.
He wasn’t too busy. He heard their cries for help. He stopped the action and called them over, and then, to check their faith, He asked what they wanted Him to do for them. Imagine that — the Son of God asking His creation what He could do for them.
Let’s set the stage here. Jesus at the time of this encounter with the blind was heading for His execution. He was marching to Jerusalem, where He was to be arrested by the Jewish religious leaders and turned over to Roman authorities to be beaten and crucified.
For us. Yes, His body would be scourged and beaten and hung on a Cross to pay the full price for our sins — past, present, and future — yet, instead of bemoaning His fate, He had time to ask two blind men what He could do for them — in addition to dying for their sins!
But the multitude, which wasn’t about to sacrifice anything for anybody, was too busy to bother.
Just before this scene, Matthew tells us Jesus had told His disciples to love one another and serve one another: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28 NIV).
Before that scene, Matthew says Jesus told His disciples that His journey to Jerusalem would lead to His death, as well as His resurrection.
Pretty heavy stuff.
BACK TO THE TWO BLIND MEN.
So, Jesus has just told His disciples He is heading to Jerusalem to suffer for mankind and that He came to serve us rather than to be served and that we’re to love one another, and yet when two blind men call out for help — His disciples (the church) — those who had just heard the Lord’s teaching, tell the men they’re a bother.
Is it any wonder many in the church — that is the flawed people who make up the church — so often fail to serve the Master?
That failure makes it so easy for nonbelievers to throw up the excuse that if those of us who call ourselves Christians do not and cannot act with more compassion toward one another, then why should they want to follow Jesus?
We know from the Bible that that accusation is a false one, that those whose hearts are cold are not followers of Jesus even though they may be regular church attendees, sing in the choir, make quarterly payments, and teach in children’s ministry.
Following Jesus means living out the Gospel in our daily lives. It means remaining in contact with God throughout the day—reading His word (Psa. 119:147-148), staying in prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and showing God’s love to a broken world (Matt. 7:20).
Our failures as human beings may make it easy for non-believers to find fault with us, but we know from the Bible that their objection, no matter how often it might be stated, is irrelevant and has no bearing on the central question that each of us must answer: “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15 NIV).
IN THE END, EACH OF US must decide for ourselves whether we will be influenced by the multitude that followed Jesus and told the two blind men to stop pestering the Lord — or be guided by the response of Jesus, who faced incredible suffering on behalf of the entire human race yet still had time and patience and love and compassion sufficient to ask what He could do for them.
When unbelievers decide they want to cry out to the Messiah, they will find that our Lord and Savior will react far differently from the way His flock acts. Instead of blocking out the word’s troubles, He will stop what He’s doing and ask, “What can I do for you?”
Jesus left His earthly ministry in our hands. Surely, He knew that as individuals, we were ill-equipped for so great a job, but He told us we would not be alone. He would send the Holy Spirit to guide us (John 14:16) and that with that guidance, He, through us, “will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12).
After Jesus healed the blind men, the Bible tells us they praised God and joined the multitude.
Matthew doesn’t tell us what influence they had on Jesus’ followers, but they all marched to the same location together: Jerusalem.
This wonderful story clearly states that people do not follow Jesus because of who we are. They will follow Jesus because of who He is.
PRAYER: O Merciful and Mighty Jesus, we praise Your Name. We know that You are the answer to life’s questions. You are the great healer. In Your arms, we find peace. May we not be the uncaring multitude that discourages others from following You, but may Your light shine through the cracks in our lives to give You the glory. Amen