Blindness

A shameful scene by the side of the road demonstrated spiritual blindness.
Needing a break before they began the trek to Jerusalem, Jesus led the men to a resting place on the side of the road near Jericho. While they were resting, He tried once more to warn them of what awaited them in the capitol city: betrayal, arrest, trial, condemnation, execution and resurrection. Once more, they were blind to the impending events.

A Mother’s Ambition
We are not told how the mother of James and John and the wife of Zebedee joined the group but she is suddenly there asking embarrassing questions. She had given her sons to follow Jesus and she wanted to know about His plans for them. It was not the first or the last time sons were embarrassed by ambitious mothers. These two strong fishermen could not stop her and besides, they were interested in what Jesus might say.

Travelers on the road stopped to stare at Jesus and the Twelve and the agitated old woman. Losing interest, they continued on their way. Nearby on the other side of the road two blind men were begging from the travelers headed to and from Jerusalem.

Taking the plunge, the mother of the two Disciples knelt at the feet of Jesus. She was not ill nor was she in trouble. Jesus asked her what she wanted. Her request was sincere but she was totally blind to the shame of it.

“Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”

John and James wanted to hide but there was no place. The other men laughed to themselves. After a moment of silence Jesus answered the woman’s question with a question. Could her sons really follow Him? Were they strong enough to face the future with Him and share in His challenges? She rose to her feet and dragged her sons forward to stand in front of Jesus. She urged them to speak up. They swallowed hard and mumbled that they were up to whatever was coming.

Jesus shook His head and agreed with them but her request was out of bounds.

“…to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give…”

Leadership in the Kingdom
The other 10 men stopped laughing and started rebuking the two, leaving their mother lost in a fog of ambition. Jesus seized the moment to teach them about leadership in the Kingdom of God. It was the opposite of leadership in the world. It was not about power; it was about responsibility. Leaders were servants not slave drivers.

As He continued to teach, they regained the road. Before long a multitude started following. As they walked past the two blind beggars, Jesus stopped when He heard their voices:

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”

He called back to them asking what they wanted. They were quick to answer:

“Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”

In their blindness they saw great possibilities in the nearness of Jesus. They could not see what the Disciples saw: the look of compassion mixed with joy that stole across the face of Jesus. It always happened just before a miracle. Suddenly the two men could see. They performed the now-I-can-see dance so many others had danced. Jesus smiled at the two men.

At least somebody could see!

Scriptures:
Matthew 20:17-34
Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.” So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, spiritual blindness is so embarrassing. The mother of James and John was blind to the blazing pride in her request. But she was only thinking the way people in the world think. Her ambition may also lurk in my heart—show it to me, O Holy Ghost! Turn the searchlight of Your love on my heart. Help me see things the way they really are! You have promised me that I could walk in the light so give me spiritual eyes to see it. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Open My Eyes that I Might See
Words and Music: Clara H. Scott

1. Open my eyes, that I may see
glimpses of truth you have for me;
place in my hands the wonderful key
that shall unlock and set me free.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

2. Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth you send so clear;
and while the message sounds in my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my ears, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

3. Open my mouth, and let me bear
gladly the warm truth everywhere;
open my heart, and let me prepare
love with your children thus to share.
Silently now, on bended knee,
ready I wait your will to see;
open my heart, illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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