That they would be desperate is not surprising. Don’t know how long these two men had been blind, but long enough to be sitting by the roadside begging. And you got to know that while they appreciated the alms that were dropped before them by some leaving Jericho, what they wanted more than anything else were eyes opened. And so, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out as if their lives depended on it . . . and, more than they could know at the time, their lives did depend on it.
And so they cried out repeatedly, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” They might have addressed anyone worthy of honor as “Lord.” But there would be but one they would address as “Son of David” — that title reserved for God’s Holy Anointed One . . . the Messiah. The Promised One . . . the Deliverer of God’s people. They had heard enough talk along that road concerning Jesus of Nazareth that they had come to believe, as some had said Jesus claimed, that He was the Messiah. And so they cried out to Israel’s Deliverer for a bit of their own deliverance.
And Jesus, compelled by compassion, touched their eyes, “and immediately they recovered their sight and followed Him” (Matthew 20:29-34).
That they followed Him, seems to me, was further evidence of their faith. But what they would soon see with their newly functioning optical systems was more than they could have bargained for. Some things you don’t want to see. But that’s what happens when you’re given eyes opened wide.
Just before recording this incident, Matthew chronicles a conversation Jesus had with His disciples. It was a conversation that Jesus has had before with His disciples, a conversation concerning His death. But this one was the most detailed, the most graphic, perhaps the most disturbing . . .
“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20:18-19 ESV)
Before this Jesus had hinted at His death (Matt. 12:40). And He had spoken of an impending time of suffering, and of being delivered over to the hands of men to be killed (Matt. 17:12, 22). But this was the first time He spoke of flogging and crucifixion. And it occurs to me that these two formerly blind guys who had become followers of Jesus were soon to see something that may have caused them to wish that their eyes had never been opened.
A little over a week after having received their sight, I imagine them there, at that place called Golgotha, staring in horror as their Sight-Giver is hung before them. His body so beaten, His face so marred, that He is almost beyond recognition. The Son of David, who had directed the power of heaven towards healing their eyes, now hung seemingly helpless before a jeering crowd. “Father, forgive them,” He pleads before heaven. “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me,” He cries into the darkness. “It is finished,” He shouts with a victorious shout. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit,” as He breathes His last.
And whether they saw it then, or later, they would come to know that His suffering was for them. That it was their sin that compelled the Son of David to take upon Himself the wrath of God. That, because of their transgression and iniquity, the prophesied King of Heaven would come first as the once-for-all sacrificial Lamb of God. That the horror of His death would be matched only by the horror of their realization of the depths of their own depravity and rebellion before the God of All Creation.
Maybe they should have been careful what they asked for when they asked for their sight. What they saw was probably more than they wanted to see. But see it they did. His death on the cross. The realization of the depths of their sin that put Him there. All because of eyes opened wide.
But, I’m guessing, they wouldn’t change a thing. For they also saw their redemption. The gift of God graciously poured out on a needy world. And, just as He had said, Christ rose from the grave on the third day. And, as He promised, they knew, just knew, they would see Him again, the Son of David, in all His glory and majesty.
All because of eyes opened wide.
By His grace . . . For His glory!