Luke 18:35-43 is the story of a blind man whom Jesus heals on his way into Jericho. This is Jesus’ final approach to Jerusalem prior to his death and resurrection.
As Jesus approaches Jericho the blind man calls out to him to have mercy upon him. Jesus responds by asking “What do you want me to do for you?”
Why did Jesus ask that? Can’t Jesus see that the man is blind? Is Jesus making fun of the blind man? What is going on here?
In the world of the 1st century and still today, beggars play an important role within society. Religious people are required to give alms to the poor. If there were no beggars, there would be no poor to receive alms. Thus, the blind beggar fulfilled a necessary position in his community.
This man had probably been blind most or all of his life. Being blind means he has no education, no marketable skills, and no way to provide for himself besides begging.
What will happen to him if he is healed? The Bible does not give us the rest of this man’s story, but we can easily guess what happens. His entire life changes, but depending on your perspective, it may not be entirely for the better. Yes he can see, but he will also immediately face a dramatic transition from completely relying upon others for his livelihood, to learning a trade and becoming a self-sustaining member of the community. Suddenly, life just grew a whole lot harder!
What is it that Jesus is really asking?
Are you ready to take on all the responsibilities and challenges that you will face if I heal you?
The man’s response: “Lord, I want to see.”
The blind man is aware that his future will entirely change because of his request. Yet he places his faith in Jesus, whom he recognizes as the Messiah (“Jesus, Son of David” Lk 18:38), and requests his sight.
One early translation of the Bible put his request like this: “Lord, let me receive my sight that I may see you.” This is not the translation our English Bibles are based upon, but it makes an profound point for why this blind man makes his request. He recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and wants to see him.
Later, speaking to Thomas, one of his disciples, Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” I wonder if the blind beggar they saw Jesus heal on the way into Jericho a few weeks before crossed the minds of the disciples right then.
How often do we live each day with the courage and faith the blind man had in Jesus before Jesus healed him? What would life be like if we did?
Want to learn more? Check out Podcast: Jesus, Bartimaeus, and Zacchaeus.
Grace and peace.