Tag Archives: Blindness

God’s People, part 204: Bartimaeus

Read Mark 10:46-52

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Blind-Bartimaeus-topazPart 204: Bartimaeus. The account of Bartimaeus is another account that features a miraculous healing that is preceded by the surrounded people getting it wrong. We don’t know a whole lot about Bartimaeus other than a few simple facts. That very fact tells us everything that we need to know about him.

Mark tells us that Bartimaeus was blind. As has been written prior to this devotion, blindness was seen as a curse. If someone was blind, it meant that God allowed such a malady to befall that person. If someone was born blind it meant that the sins of that person’s parents or their grandparents had passed on to him or her. After all, God clearly stated in Exodus 34:7, “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

Mark also tells us that Bartimaeus is a beggar, which means that he had no one to take care of him. We are told that he is the “son of Timaeus”, so that gives us the clue that the people in Jericho knew this man and his family; however, his family is nowhere to be found in the account. There’s just the brief mention of Bartimaeus’s parentage.

Perhaps Bartimaeus’ family abandoned him to his fate on the streets. Perhaps they were impoverished and had him begging for extra money. Perhaps they had passed away and he resorted to begging because he had no one left to care for him. Whatever the case may be, Bartimaeus was there begging when Jesus passed by, just like he had done every day prior.

The crowd, of course, knew Bartimaeus and his loud cries for money. When Bartimaeus cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” all they heard was “Give me money, give me money!” Yet, that is not what he had said. What’s more amazing is that this blind man knew exactly who Jesus was. He was the Messiah, the Son of David. Bartimaeus was not asking for money, he was asking for mercy. In other words, he was begging for forgiveness to the One who could grant it. This is not to say that he was blind because of his sin; however, Bartimaeus knew in his heart that Jesus was from God and that he needed his help.

The crowds tried to silence him, but he would not be silenced. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus called him over and asked him what he wanted from Jesus, “I want to see,” he proclaimed and Jesus gave him his sight back. Why did his sight return? Jesus answered that when he said, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” In other words, this man recognized God in Jesus and he humbled himself before God. He had faith in Jesus and it was that faith through which the healing came.

The twist in all of this is that here is another situation where the blind man is the one who ACTUALLY sees, while the others are ACTUALLY blinded to who Christ really is. Bartimaeus may not have known Jesus’ identity as the Son of God properly speaking, he doesn’t quite acknowledge that; however, he does acknowledge Jesus as the Son of David, the one sent to Israel by God.

The challenge is for us to pray that we might have our eyes opened to see Jesus for who he actually is. We often approach him like the crowd, hoping he can serve us in some way or another. We should be approaching Christ the way Bartimaeus did, humbly crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, Son of God, have mercy on us”. We should be humbling ourselves before the One who has brought salvation to humanity through his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave! Let us approach Christ in humility and give our lives over to him.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Blindness comes in more forms than just physical.

PRAYER
Lord, have mercy on us. Restore our sight to us so that we might see your glory and share your love with all people. Amen.

God’s People, part 199: Blind Man

Read Mark 8:22-26

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.”  (Mark 2:4, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

jesus-heals-the-blind-manPart 199: Blind Man. Here we have yet another account of Jesus being bombarded by people seeking for him to be healed. In today’s passage, it is a blind man. In fact there are a number of blind people who Jesus heals. There’s the account we have today, which happened in Bethsaida. He also healed blind Bartimaeus later on in Mark. Matthew mentions him healing two blind people at the same time, one of whom may be the same unnamed person that is mentioned in our passage today.

In Luke, heals a blind person as he approached the city of Jericho. Finally, in John, Jesus heals an unnamed man who was born blind. In this account, Jesus does this very publicly in front of the religious leaders, which adds fuel to their fire. In this account, Jesus is not only healing the man for the sake of the man (though he does have compassion on him), but he is also performing the miracle to expose the Pharisees in their own “blindness”. We’ll revisit this account later on in the series.

In this passage, a blind man is brought to Jesus and the people who brought him begged Jesus to heal him of his blindness. Jesus took this man and led him out of the village. In other words, Jesus took the time to guide this man to a private, quiet place where he would not be a spectacle for others to gawk at. After spitting on the man’s eyes (gross…I know), the man told him that he could see, but things were blurry. Following laying his hands on the man, Jesus fully restored his sight and then sent him away, telling him not to go back into the village on his way home.

Minus the spitting, it is a beautiful, intimate, and touching scene between Jesus and this man who was in need. Out of that scene, though, a question arises: what if his friends didn’t take the time to bring him to Jesus and persistently beg for healing? Would that man have ever been healed of his sight? In fact, that question arises out of many of the healing accounts in the Gospel.

The truth is that the blind man and many of the people who were healed in the gospels would not have been healed had they no friends to persist and plead on their behalf. They would have, like countless other people, fallen through the cracks and left in their own suffering, misery and despair. Praise God for the people who decided to advocated for those people who had such desperate needs.

This should also cause us to pause and reflect on ourselves and the world around us. How many people do we know who are struggling and in need of hope, healing and wholeness? Who is pleading on their behalf? Who is advocating for them so that they might find the healing they need? Who is persistent in pleading for their wellness?

We all should be challenged to be like the friends of this blind man, who cared so much that they sought Jesus out and persistently begged for his healing. This should challenge us to be more aware of the needs around us and more inspired to DO SOMETHING to fill those needs. Let us be a people of empathy as opposed to apathy, for this is what pleases the Lord and this is what is desperately needed to counteract the evil and hopelessness of the world.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker

PRAYER
Lord, help me be an advocate for those who are in need, so that they may not only receive healing, but that they might also realize they are not alone. Amen.

THE CHRISTIAN MANIFESTO, Part 7: Blind

Read Luke 4:13-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then Jesus told him, ‘I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.’” (John 9:39, NLT)

aa_keller_senses_2_eRecently, a fellow colleague and friend of mine got into a conversation about the scripture passage I was preaching on at the church that I serve. The passage is Luke 4:14-21 and is on Jesus’ first recorded visit to the synagogue in Nazareth following his baptism and wilderness experience. In that passage, Jesus is handed the scroll of Isaiah and he opens it up to the following passage: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” Inspired by the conversation, I have decided to devote a series of devotions on this particular passage, which has become known as “The Christian Manifesto”.

Part 6: Blind. Have you ever wondered what it must be like to not be able to see with your eyes? We rely on our eye sight so much. We rely on our eyes to show us the world around us, to spot danger, to view obstacles as we move from place to place. We utilize our eyes to enjoy the beauty of nature, to gaze at the beauty of the ones we love, to read the words of philosophers, novelists, poets and other authors. We use our eyes for just about every part of our lives. It is very hard, indeed, to imagine what life without our eyes must be like.

Yet, I think that, for those of us with our eyesight intact, we take that sense for granted. What’s more, when we try to imagine our world without our eyes, we are totally inept at doing so. Even more than that, we often perceive that persons without their eye sight, or those who are lacking any of the senses we come to rely on, are in a worse place than we are. We view their lot in life as being one of hardship and burden, and we often thank God for keeping us from having such a lot. Yet, is that truly so when we look at our lives from God’s perspective? Is our lot better? Are we truly able to see better than the blind?

Helen Keller was blind. She could not see and, what’s more, she could not hear either; however, it was in her blindness and deafness that she came up with an entire school for the blind and deaf. In doing so, she enabled countless children like herself a chance at higher quality of life than her surrounding world, and the “able-bodied” people who pittied them, would ever afford them to have. I think also to Ludwig Van Beethoven who had progressive hearing loss and eventually ended up deaf. Yet, in his utter deafness, this maestro composed perhaps the greatest and most well-known symphony of all time, which was his 9th Symphony and most known for it’s final movement, “An Ode to Joy”. The man who was pittied for his deafness, gave the world something it would love to hear centuries following his death.

The truth is, we who have our sense often fail to use them. We may be able to physically see, we may be able to physically hear, yet we find ourselves deaf and blind to the direction God is calling us in. Perhaps we are the blind or, if not us, perhaps there are those around us who are unable to see the presence of God in their lives. Perhaps there are people we know (ourselves included) who can not see the vision of the Kingdom that God is laying before us. Wherever the blindness is, whether it be pyhsical, emotional, psychological, or spiritual, Christ’s manifesto lays out the fact that our purpose is to eliminate blindness and to help restore sight to the blind.

This is no easy task, for sure. It is one that takes hope and faith. Do you have such faith? Do you believe that Christ came to restore sight to the blind? Do you believe that Christ has restored your sight to you? Do you believe that Christ has given you the power and the authority over the powers that take sight away from people? Do you believe that you are called to help make a difference in this world by giving sight back to a world that has gone blind by its hatred and its sinfulness? If so, then what are you waiting for? In the name of Jesus, carry on the restoration that Christ started all of those years ago.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” – John Newton
PRAYER
Lord, open my eyes that I may see and believe that you have come to give sight to those blind to your Kingdom. Amen.

Sent to Siloam

Read John 9:1-11

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then Jesus told him, ‘I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.’” (John 9:39)

siloamAt church I have been leading a summer Bible Study for those in our church that teach Children’s Sunday School during the year, so that they have time to be enriched as well as being an enrichment for others. The Study we have been doing is one called “Unusual Gospel” by Rev. Adam Thomas. In he covers the unusual Gospel of John and the unusual healings, the unusual people, and the unusual questions found throughout it. It is a very engaging and refreshing study.

One of the unusual healings is that of the man who was born blind. You may be wondering what is so unusual about that healing. Jesus healed many people, and he’s known to have healed the blind. The story of the man born blind is a very familiar one and is certainly one that many of us have heard if not have memorized. So what exactly is unusual about it?

In the story, Jesus approaches the man born blind, spits on the ground, makes mud and rubs it on the man’s eyes. Yuck! Then he tells the man to go and wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. The man, who now has Jesus saliva and dirt mixture smeared on his face, goes to the pool and washes his eyes. As he does so, he finds that he is healed. When he returned from the pool the people around him were astonished. In fact, they were more than astonished…they were confused. Something looked familiar about this man…but they just couldn’t place him.

“Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg,” his neighbors and other witnesses asked each other? Some replied, “Nah…this isn’t that man, he just looks like him.” The beggar kept assuring “I am the same one…I am the same one!” No one seemed to listen or recognize him…and when they did recognize him, they were more concerned with who healed him than the fact that he had been healed. The irony is that this man at one point could not physically see; however, his healing had revealed who was truly blind.

The people were blind to the blind man. They never really saw him for who he was. They only ever saw his limitation. When they looked at the blind man, they only ever saw blindness. And notice what I, the writers of the Bible, Jesus’ disciples, and the Bible translators often do…we all tend to label this man as “The Blind Man” or “The Man Born Blind”, despite that he was healed and HIS BLINDNESS wasn’t who he really was!

Jesus revealed that to him and to the disciples. Through the healing, Jesus also revealed the blindness of the man’s neighbors. They didn’t know anything about this man, but that he was blind. That is how they identified him…as blind. And Jesus revealed their own blindness to them. Through this unusual healing, Jesus reveals our blindness to us as well. How often do we identify people by their limitations. How often do we name them after their limitations. The Blind Person, The Drunk Person, That Suicidal Person, those Old People, that Young person. How often do we only see the label, the supposed “limitation”, but are blind to the actual person…the actual child of God that is before us.

Like he did in this unusual healing, Jesus is showing us our blindness and he is offering us healing from that blindness. If we humbly recognize that we have mud of our own on our eyes, if we obediently wash that mud off, if we open our eyes to the people that we’ve been blind to, we will be healed from that blindness. God wants us to see people as they really are, not for what we’ve deemed them to be. God is sending you to Siloam. Be healed and transformed!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Hate and mistrust are the children of [spiritual] blindness.” – William Watson

PRAYER
Lord, open the eyes of my heart for I want to see you in the people around me. Break me free from the chains of my blindness and give me the ability to see through your eyes. Amen.