As they left Jericho, a great crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “[Lord,] Son of David, have pity on us!” The crowd warned them to be silent, but they called out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have pity on us!” Jesus stopped and called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with pity, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight, and followed him.
As I read this pericope tonight, the plea “Lord, let our eyes be opened” really caught my attention. I think this is because I’ve more often seen the phrase rendered as “Lord, we want to see!” And there is a difference, I think. To me, saying “Lord, let our eyes be opened” in some ways is a plea for a correction to a willful problem. In other words, if they were merely blind, Jesus giving them sight would be a correction to a problem that came through no fault of their own.
But saying “Lord, let our eyes be opened” implied to me this evening that their eyes were willfully closed. Jesus implies this in John’s Gospel in the healing of the man born blind. He tells the Pharisees, who asked him to clarify whether he was inferring that they were also blind: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.”
But the two blind men here have a bit of an advantage, I think, over those Pharisees. The Pharisees insisted that they could in fact see, where these two acknowledge that they cannot. Spiritually, they are in a better place because they know their blindness and further, they wish to have it corrected, although it seems they cannot do so on their own. Still, knowing that one needs help is far and away better than insisting there is no problem. So these two blind men do indeed have their eyes opened, while the Pharisees in John’s pericope remain culpably blind.
I could ruminate about the areas of blindness in my own life, and they are legion to be sure. But I don’t think that’s the message this time. Instead, I think the message has to be that it’s important to know when we are in spiritual danger and seek help in that time of need. We cannot deny that sort of blindness, as the Pharisees did, or we have no hope whatsoever of being healed.