I’ve done some questionable (okay, pretty “stupid”) things in my life, but I’ve never painted my face or dyed my hair to match any school’s team colors or to comply with some passing trend. I’ve never gotten body piercings, huge tattoos, worn special clothing, or bought a particular kind of vehicle to advertise allegiance to some political, sexual, ideological, or religious group. That probably makes me sort of a cultural outcast when you consider all the ridiculous, intrusive, and maddening, not to mention illegal and immoral, things going on these days in an attempt to get someone’s attention.
But there are other kinds of cries for attention — ones that are altogether different. There are those “911” kinds of calls that we know as cries of desperation that erupt in the midst of extremely dangerous or life-threatening situations . . . if a fire breaks out in the house, for instance, or there’s been a wreck on the highway and someone is critically injured. If we’re convinced that our life is in jeopardy, no effort is too extreme if there’s a chance it might gain the attention of someone who could help. A classic example we think of is Peter’s panic-driven plea when he began to sink in the water on his way to Jesus. ”Lord, save me,” he cried, and Jesus did exactly that. (Matthew 14:28-31)
Attention Seeking in another Context ~
In the Scriptures, there are many other instances of impassioned pleas for attention, and Matthew describes one that might potentially be helpful in this confusing and noisy culture surrounding us. He reports the rather brief incident in the simplest of terms:
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. (Matthew 20:29–34 NKJV)
Matthew doesn’t include any obvious complicating factors that make this particular incident stand out. On the surface, it seems to be just a straight-forward, uncomplicated report of another of Jesus’ many miracles. But the contextual surroundings unveil a couple of things we would do well to consider.
In the first place, this is a story told on the move, and the timing is crucial to those involved. Jesus wasn’t sitting somewhere teaching, preaching, healing, and answering questions. He was on His way to Jerusalem and focused on concluding the mission He had come to fulfill. If these men didn’t get Jesus’ attention then, the opportunity would never come again. Both time and the One who could change everything were moving past them, taking hope away with every step. Urgency and desperation joined ranks to obliterate every consideration of social decorum.
Opposition from the Crowd ~
A crowd of curious onlookers had mingled with Jesus’ disciples, and the entire entourage was trudging along together. Whether to learn from Him or to find some way to entrap Him everyone was watching Jesus’ every move and listening intently to anything this radical Rabbi might say. Suddenly, the sound of shuffling feet was lost amid the frantic voices of a couple of beggars yelling to the top of their lungs.
The blind men didn’t begin by asking for healing. Instead, they cried out for mercy, and that request was understandable, given what they had been taught about the cause of their blindness. The accepted cultural conclusion was that debilitating afflictions like blindness and other physical disorders were a judgment by God levied because of some sin that either the victims or their progenitors had committed. Blindness, then, was not the only curse those men had to endure. They were universally considered to be sinners condemned by God and as such, were reduced to begging on the streets as their only means of surviving financially. Beyond that, they suffered the additional humiliation of being banned from participation in Temple worship and other social functions.
Another Kind of Freedom ~
Being released from their dark prison would be a moment of inexpressible joy, of course, but having their eyes opened would represent another kind of freedom they had never known. Their restored vision would be an undeniable declaration to the religious elites that the curse of their sin had been removed. Mercy that could finally bring the world into view would do more than illuminate a brighter future for them here. It would bring with it the hope of eventually seeing glory beyond anything human eyes have ever seen.
This is a fascinating story, but what does it have to do with us today? Is there anything we can learn that can be helpful in this chaotic world we live in? Without undue elaboration, here are a few suggestions:
- We may not be physically blind, but our vision has been impaired in other ways. We’ve been blind to the extent of our spiritual complacency and failed to see the avenues of evil that our silence allowed to be opened up. We’ve been blind to our compromises and our increasing conformity with the world and its value system. We have facilitated the slow turn away from God that allowed the most heinous and destructive practices ever seen in our land to be heralded as normal and defended as rights.
- Time was an obvious factor to those blind men in Matthew’s story. Urgency was an unrelenting force, and as mentioned, there would be no do-overs if they failed to act. And time may be a more critical factor for us than we think, as well. A spiritual and cultural shift is happening with frightening speed. Every tick of the clock unveils more evidence of moral and ethical corruption and lawlessness at the highest echelons of power in every branch of government. Jesus is nearer to us than He was to those blind men, and if we don’t begin to act now, it may soon be too late.
- The men didn’t cry out for economic reparations or future prosperity. They didn’t demand “social justice” or religious affirmation. They simply cried out for mercy. Blindness was definitely a major point of interest, but as we noted earlier, the question of their sin was an underlying factor that had to be resolved. Jesus was, and is, always more concerned about dealing with that issue than the physical manifestations it produces.
- And so it is with us. The primary factor needing His attention in our case is not the economic instability caused by COVID, or the violence in our streets, or the racial indoctrination being forced on our children, or the freedoms being stripped away daily. It’s the sins we’ve embraced, adopted, and supported that paved the way for the current chaos that concerns Him. Our cries need to be a desperate plea for mercy, because our sins are the debilitating issue at hand.
The lessons here are simple, but they can easily be put off or completely ignored. We can choose to do nothing and keep on, clinging to our sins and struggling to survive in a dark and dangerous world. We can continue to yield to a crowd that wants us to shut up and keep Jesus out of the picture. Or, we can confess the sins our blindness has allowed, abandon our inhibitions, and cry out to Him for mercy until He hears and responds.
The choice is ours, but this much is true, when the blind men got Jesus’ attention, amazing things began to happen. Light flooded blind eyes, hope invaded hopeless hearts, joyous praise out-shouted fear and desperation, and the devil’s emissaries in the crowd were the ones silenced. What will make our shouts for mercy efficacious is not the volume of our voices, but instead, the insistent intensity of our hearts and the sincerity of our belief that He really can do what, for men, is impossible.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “We’ve been blind to compromises & increasing conformity with the world’s value system. We facilitated a slow turn from God that allowed the most heinous, destructive practices ever seen in our land, heralded as normal & defended as rights.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “A spiritual and cultural shift is happening with frightening speed. Every tick of the clock unveils more evidence of widespread moral and ethical corruption and lawlessness. ” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The primary factor needing Jesus’ attention is the sins we’ve embraced, adopted & supported that paved the way for the current chaos that concerns Him. Our cries need to be a desperate plea for mercy. Our sins are the debilitating issue.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When the blind men got Jesus’ attention, amazing things began to happen. Light flooded blind eyes, hope invaded hopeless hearts, joyous praise out-shouted fear and desperation, & the devil’s emissaries in the crowd were the ones silenced.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “What will make our shouts for mercy efficacious is not the volume of our voices, but instead, the insistent intensity of our hearts and the sincerity of our belief that He really can do the impossible.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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