The two men were both blind, and both desperate. They knew that this was not simply their best chance to regain their sight, it was their only chance. If Jesus passed them by, they were destined to spend the rest of their lives on that dry, dusty road, with only the stories of others to give them something to hope for some time in some distant future.
But who knew when? Who knew when Jesus would be back there? Who knew if He would ever be back there?
So for them, it was now or never. They heard the crowd coming, like the distant roll of thunder before a storm. They smelled the kicked-up dust, felt the change in the air. As the people bustled down the road toward them, they heard the excitement like the sweep of leaves before a sudden wind. “Jesus! He’s coming! Make way!”
Words like miracle worker and Messiah and Man of God fell like scraps of bread from a rich man’s table into the eager hands of the two beggars. They devoured each morsel. Hungry for more, they reached out toward the crowd, only to have their hands slapped away.
Feeling their chance slipping by, the two called out to this miracle worker whom they could not see, but sensed like a great stillness before a storm.
“Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
The crowd brusquely pushed them aside, telling them to shut up. But the men cried out even more loudly, more persistently.
“Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
And that cry—that marginalized, pushed-aside, desperate cry for mercy—stopped the King of kings in His tracks. The crowd grew suddenly still and stood on tiptoes, craning their necks, straining their eyes, cupping their ears. Jesus looked at the haggard men, who were standing now. Then, in a string of one-syllable words that a child could understand, Jesus asked a simple question: “What do you want Me to do for you?”
The voice was kind and soft and not the least bit hurried or perturbed—just the opposite, in fact. From the sound of His voice, it felt as if all time stood still and was waiting with bated breath. Indeed it was. Angels, no doubt, were part of the procession, standing on the fringe of the crowd; with them, craning their necks; with them, straining their eyes; with them, cupping their ears. For the whole creation had waited on tip- toes for the coming of this promised seed who would one day restore the paradise that had been lost.
Today, at least a portion of that paradise would be restored. Like a cool breeze from Eden, the still pools of their blind eyes would be troubled and healed. As it passed, that breeze would rustle the fallen leaves of that forgotten garden with the fragrantly unfurling scents of the Kingdom of God. The two blind men couldn’t believe it. The Son of David, the Lord of all creation, asking what He could do for them.
The humility of the moment caused the air around them to tremble. Then, with the simplicity of a child asking his papa to reach for something out of his grasp, one of them answers: “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.”
Before Jesus healed them, the text says that His heart went out to them. He saw them, really saw them. He saw the furrows between their ribs; saw their spindly legs; saw the gaunt valleys that were their cheeks; saw the sunken holes that held their fixed, unfocused eyes. He smelled them, too, and imagined in a moment all the heartache that life on that road had been for them. He felt for them, deeply, then He reached out to them, touching their eyes.
“Immediately they regained their sight,” the text says. “And followed Him,” it concludes, almost as an after-thought. Doubtless they followed Him. For the rest of their joyous, grateful, adventurously expectant lives they followed Him. How could it be otherwise?
What those two men needed was not instruction but an encounter. They didn’t need to go to a conference on miracles; they needed a miracle to come to them. They needed to be touched and healed. But first, they needed to be heard and seen. They needed eyes of love to behold them—not eyes of judgment, scorn, or ridicule. Eyes of love. The way the eyes of a parent sees their dearly beloved child. The way the eyes of Heaven see us.
Which is what you need, isn’t it?
And what I need.
It is what all of us need.
We each have those unloved realms in our lives—those places in each of us, for example, where our darkest secrets cower like sightless cave dwellers; those places where the light has not yet reached; those dank, suffocating places where darkness reigns and shame is given not only a place to live, but to thrive.
Can you see that place in the deep recesses of your heart? Do you shudder at the sight of it? Does it embarrass you whenever you think about all that dwells there? Would it shock your family and friends if they could see those places? Now, let’s look at those same places but with other eyes.
How do you think those places look through Heaven’s eyes? How do they look to the Father who loves you? Is He critical of what He sees there? Or is He filled with compassion? Do you think He wants to seal off the entrance to that dark cave...or to flood it with the light of His presence? Does He want to bring judgment to the part of you that has squandered its inheritance...or does He want to run to that prodigal part, shower it with kisses, bring it home, and celebrate its return?
How you see yourself—and your secrets—is directly related to how you see God. If you see God as judgmental, you will likely see yourself harshly and treat yourself harshly. If you see God as loving, you will likely see yourself tenderly and treat yourself tenderly. What we need to change is the way we see.
It would be nice if that change would be as easy as an eye exam and a prescription for corrective lenses. Or even Lasik surgery, which is a relatively simple procedure with little pain or discomfort. But what we are talking about is not a change of vision so much as it is a change of heart—which is the work of the Spirit.
Before the Spirit changed my heart, I used to have some of the same short-sightedness, some of the same astigmatisms, and some of the same blindness as the religious leaders that Jesus spoke against. Even though I had attended Bible college and seminary, and even though I was pastoring a church, I suffered from a kind of macular-degenerative disease that kept me from seeing myself and those around me through the loving eyes of my Heavenly Father. The reason I couldn’t see myself or others correctly was because I couldn’t see Him correctly.
After that encounter with the Holy Spirit, I no longer looked at God as an angry, austere authority figure. I saw Him as a kind, tenderhearted God of love. He was my Papa, and I was His dearly beloved son. I no longer saw myself as a slave, working for wages, but rather as a son, living off his inheritance. I saw others differently, too. I no longer saw them through the harsh glare of judgment but through the soft gaze of love. Even the future looked different. Through Heaven’s eyes there was nothing to fear about the end times; instead, I found so much to love, which was startling and, at the same time, exhilarating.
Since that experience, I began seeing everything through different eyes. So drastic were the changes in clarity, color, and perspective in the spiritual realm that it was as if I had been like one of those blind men, sitting on the side of the road while the world of the sighted was passing me by.
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I was whisked up in a whirlwind of an experience, and when I was plopped down, I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. The eyes of my heart were enlightened. I went from seeing in sepia tones to stunning Technicolor. I saw God differently, myself differently, other people differently, even the future differently.
I hardly have words to describe the adventure I have been on the past several years. The closest I can come to describing them is Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Romans 8:15-17a in The Message:
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who He is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!”
You are in for an adventure! Be expectant, greeting God with a childlike, “What’s next, Papa?” Papa is going to put you on His big, broad shoulders and show you some amazing things! He’s going to show you who He is. He’s going to show you who you are. And He’s going to show you the happily-ever-after ending He has in store for all His children.
- Leif Hetland, author of Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes
(Commentary on Matthew 20:29-34)