Summary: Jesus' healing of a blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43 teaches us about the mercy of Jesus.
When Pierre-Paul Thomas was growing up in Montreal, Canada in the 1940s he couldn’t play hockey with his brothers, and it broke his heart.
Thomas was born blind – long before a cure for his particular condition was available. So, for most of his life he could only imagine the world that people often described to him. For years he walked with a white cane to avoid obstacles in front of him.
But at the age of sixty-six, Thomas fell down the stairs in an apartment building and fractured the bones of his face. He was rushed to the hospital with severe swelling around his eyes. A team of doctors went to work to repair the bones.
Months later he went to be examined by a plastic surgeon for a consultation about repairing his scalp.
The surgeon casually asked Thomas, “Oh, while we’re at it, do you want us to fix your eyes too?”
Thomas did not understand. Nor did he know at first how to respond. It was only then that he learned that his particular form of blindness was curable. Not long after that, Thomas had surgery and he could truly see for the first time.
Suddenly his world consisted of bright colors he had never fathomed before. He spoke of being awestruck by flowers blossoming and trees blooming.
As beautiful as this story of a sixty-year-old man who was able to see for the first time is, there is a sad reality. He could have had the same surgery at a much younger age and been able to see much earlier. Thomas had assumed such a possibility was impossible and had resigned himself to a life of blindness when, in reality, he could have experienced the gift of sight decades earlier.
We live in a world of brokenness and suffering. Some of it is self-inflicted, I suppose. Ultimately, however, all brokenness and suffering is the result of the Fall of Adam into sin. By his Fall all humanity has been plunged into sin, brokenness, and suffering. All people experience the effects of the Fall in numerous ways. Blindness is one of the effects of the Fall.
During his ministry on earth, Jesus healed people of all kinds of diseases, including blindness. In today’s lesson, we shall learn about Jesus healing a blind beggar near Jericho. However, unlike Pierre-Paul Thomas of Montreal, who could have been healed decades earlier, this blind beggar of Jericho turned to Jesus immediately for healing as soon as he heard that Jesus was passing by. Moreover, as we shall learn, the blind beggar had far more than just his eyesight restored.
Let’s read about Jesus healing a blind beggar in Luke 18:35-43:
35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. (Luke 18:35-43)
Jesus was on his final trip to Jerusalem. He was days away from entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. While traveling to Jerusalem, he had to pass through the city of Jericho. Darrell Bock notes, “Jericho is located about six miles from the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea, and served as a tax collection center (Luke 19:1-2) on the major highway to Jerusalem, eighteen miles away (Luke 10:30).”
By this time a crowd was traveling with Jesus. They knew that Jesus was a truly remarkable person. His preaching was profound. It touched a deep chord in their hearts as he taught them about God, how to enter the kingdom of God, and receive the gift of eternal life. They were drawn to God’s mercy and grace that he offered to all sinners. The crowd was also astonished by all the miraculous deeds that Jesus performed by demonstrating his power over nature, demons, disease, and even death itself. Jesus was no magician, because the people he healed were completely transformed.
So, there was an air of expectancy and excitement. Jesus was going to Jerusalem, they thought, to set up his Messianic kingdom. They believed that Jesus was coming as the Conquering Messiah. Of course, they misunderstood that Jesus first had to come as the Suffering Messiah. Only at his Second Coming would he come as the Conquering Messiah.