On the Fourteenth Sunday of Luke
Today’s Gospel of Luke 18:35-43 talks about the healing of the blind man of Jericho.
This miracle is the fourth and final one of Jesus’ journey towards the Cross. As the Evangelist Luke states after this healing incident when Jesus blessed Zacchaeus the publican with His presence in his home “Today salvation come to this house”.
Then “Jesus went forward to Jerusalem” (Luke 19:28). The Evangelist Luke mentions that as Jesus approached Jericho, “there was a blind man sitting on the road and begging”. This man had been ostracised from society, like all those afflicted with diseases such as leprosy and blindness; diseases viewed by the Jews as punishment from God for the act of sin that was committed either by the diseased person or his parents. This was the Jewish mindset around the relationship between illness and sin.
The blind man heard the people passing by and sensed there was something unusual about this crowd, so he asked a passer-by to explain what was happening, he was told that “Jesus of Nazareth is passing.” The blind man had heard about the miracles Jesus had performed elsewhere and despite not being able to see, he still believed through what he had heard. Through his faith, he began crying out: “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!” We should take note that he did not call Christ “Jesus of Nazareth”, but “Jesus, son of David”. This indicated that the blind man believed Jesus Christ was the Messiah, as he knew from the prophecies of the Old Testament that the expected Messiah would come from the descendants of David to save His people (Psalm. 132:11). The blind man also realised that Jesus was the expected Messiah as referenced in the prophecy of Isaiah (61:1) “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Luke 4:18).
Here we note that the blind man was calling out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me” as a representation that the Lord’s mercy was more vital to him than his recovery. He did not demand of Jesus to heal him from his infirmity but placed his dependence entirely on the wisdom and mercy of God; he desired mercy alone and placed is trust in Christ to decide in what form this mercy would take.
The crowd tried to silence the man and scolded him for not being worthy of the Master; through their own inner blindness, they could not see his determination to seek mercy. He knew that being blind he could not Despite being scorned, the blind man kept calling out, hoping his cries would reach the Lord’s ears. This is what we do in our prayers, we cry out “Lord have mercy!” which is the most frequently vocalised phrase in our prayers.
The cry of the blind man eventually attracted the attention of Jesus, “He stopped and ordered for the man to be brought to Him.” They brought the blind man to Jesus and He asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” Undoubtedly, the Christ knew his needs, but like all miracles, Jesus allowed the recipient to ask for what they required. The blind man answered, “Oh Lord, to see,” Jesus replied, “See, your faith saved you.” We then see that Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, but more importantly, his spiritual insight was opened. This miracle and the praise was given to God from the blind man is the reason that “all the people as they saw, praised God.”
This act of healing was a condemnation to the Jews who every day were witnesses to the miracles Jesus and yet did not believe in Him; that He was the awaited Messiah predicted by the prophet Isaiah. Their physical eyes saw Him, but their spiritual insight was closed off and lacking spiritual vision. So, the saying in the scriptures became true: “Hear now this, oh foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:” (Jeremiah 5:21)
Let us learn from this Gospel reading of the blind man to ask first of God’s mercy, to ask it with urgency, patience, and faith. And be open to the Lord’s mercy in the way He sees it suitable for our salvation. If some try to restrain us and silence us, let our requests carry on as the Lord is close to us, He will hear our prayers and respond to our requests. He will show us mercy by opening our spiritual insight, the eyes of our souls, until we see Him, our Lord and Saviour, and follow Him as we glorify God.
† Metropolitan Basilios (Kodseie)