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Praying about Jesus’s miracles: Jesus heals a blind man

Lynne Baab • Wednesday April 17 2024

Praying about Jesus’s miracles: Jesus heals a blind man

Early in his ministry, Jesus reads from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue on the Sabbath. After he rolls up the scroll and sits back down, he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). One component of the prophecy in Isaiah is “recovery of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18). In his ministry, as recounted in all four gospels, Jesus heals a good number of people who are physically blind.

Jesus often juxtaposes physical healing of blindness with direct or indirect statements about spiritual blindness. Jesus’ concern with spiritual blindness is a strong call to prayer.

Luke 18 presents one example of the way Jesus connects physical blindness with spiritual blindness. this connection. The middle verses of the chapter describe a man who is spiritually blinded by his possessions. A rich ruler comes to Jesus and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus affirms the Ten Commandments, and the man says he keeps those. Jesus tells him to sell his possessions and come and follow Jesus. The man became sad when he heard those words (verses 18-25).

The next incident in Luke 18 involves Jesus telling the twelve that he will be mocked, spat upon, flogged, and killed. On the third day he will rise again, Jesus says. The disciples couldn’t grasp what he was saying, another form of spiritual blindness (verses 31-34).

Next, the disciples approach Jericho, and a man calls out, asking for mercy. Jesus asks him what he wants, and the man asks to see again. Jesus says to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” After he can see again, all the people praise God (verses 35-43).

The healing of the blind man works on several levels in this chapter. At the most basic and encouraging level, the miracle shows that the Kingdom of God involves health, healing, and wellbeing for all. The miracle also provides a picture of seeing and faith that contrasts with the rich man and the disciples. Physical health matters. Spiritual health matters, too.

Spiritual blindness can be caused by many things and may occur in numerous areas of life. Luke 18 highlights two areas of spiritual blindness that are as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago. Possessions and money are addictive and compelling. They can blind us to what really matters. God of liberation, free me from the captivity of money and possessions. Open my eyes to see what really matters.

Today, in our life of discipleship, we can be just as blind to the purposes of God as the early disciples were. Just like the disciples, we can easily reject the notion that suffering plays a role in the life of faith. We want an easy life. We want comfortable and straightforward answers to our prayers. Redeeming God, help us to see the way you work through suffering. Help us embrace the Apostle Paul’s words: “Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

The word “blind” is used 48 times in the Gospels. (If you’d like to see all the uses, look here.) Many of the stories of physical healing use the word more than once. Matthew uses “blind” to refer to the Pharisees numerous times. “Blind guides” appears in Matthew 15:14, and Matthew 23:16-25 uses “blind” five times to refer to the scribes and Pharisees.

Almost all Christians play a leadership or shepherding role in some form, including church leadership, mentoring, parenting, grandparenting, teaching, caring, or providing a model. We can pray that God will enable us to see clearly enough that our leading and caring is never blind. Good Shepherd, help us be shepherds who see what truly matters. Help us to see your priorities and to reflect them in our daily lives and in our leading and serving roles.

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Next week: Jesus heals a blind man twice. Illustration by Dave Baab. My memories of Jericho include a lot of palm trees, which were not as common elsewhere in Israel as I had expected.

Some previous posts that touch on consumerism:

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