Jesus has just spent the majority of Matthew 18-20 turning the social and religious norms of his time upside-down. He has given children direct access to him at the shock of his inner circle. He has told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to g0 through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter heaven. He has made it clear that man’s hard work does not lead to a seat at God’s table.
He is now making his way towards Jerusalem to be crucified by those he came to save. He has told the disciples that he will be condemned to death but they clearly hear something entirely different. Even in the light of his recent teachings they are still distracted by selfish desires and earthly plans. They are focused on temporal salvation and personal gain. The disciples have failed to see the large and the eternal significance of what is happening in front of their very eyes.
This is the background to Matthew 20:29-34: God’s kingdom turns earthly norms and expectations on their heads.
Jesus is about to exemplify this upside-down heavenly mindset by handing himself over to be beaten and killed. This is how he will bring salvation to the nations. The disciples have failed to see this truth. They are distracted from clear heavenly teaching by the lure of corrupted reason. They are blind to the things of eternal consequence because they focus on the things of earthly gain.
Here, in the midst of the disciples spiritual blindness, we meet two beggars trapped in physical darkness. As Jesus was leaving Jericho he passed these two blind men sitting on the side of the road. The men recognized Jesus as one who had the power to open their eyes and to give them sight. They recognized Jesus as one who not only had the power to give them sight but also had the compassion to address their needs. Jesus, on the road to the cross, is at his most interruptible. On his final march to accomplish his purpose for coming to earth, Jesus takes a timeout to show mercy to a pair of blind beggars calling out his name.
This is the last of Jesus’ miracles recorded before his death on the cross: giving sight to the blind.
In a matter of days Jesus would be crucified, buried and raised from the dead. In a matter of weeks he would open the spiritual eyes of his disciples. Everything will change for them at this moment. They will see the world through an eternal lens for the first time. They will give up their aspirations for earthly salvation from Roman oppression and preach the wondrous gospel of Jesus – eternal salvation from the wrath of God. Many of them will be tortured and killed for their belief in Jesus. This is the whole point of the gospel: Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind.
Jesus was sent to proclaim liberty to the captives and to ‘recover the sight of the blind’! – Luke 4:18, 19
Have you been overcome with the goodness of Jesus? Has he reached out to you and removed the blindness that once kept you in the dark? Are you daily focusing on the things of eternal consequences or do you continue to be distracted by the charms of this temporal life? If you have never called out to Jesus before I urge you to follow the example of the beggars and to do it now. If you have had the darkness removed and stepped into Christ’s glorious light, I encourage you to recall that experience. Rejoice in your salvation and let it spur you on in thankfulness and a heavenly mindset.
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:9-13
Tell us below how God has revealed to you things of heavenly consequence in the midst of a dark and temporal world. Did that change things for you like it did for the disciples?