I don’t know about you, but from time to time I tend to be a praying man. Those times are usually when I’m bent over a barrel and my cheeks are getting red from life spanking me mercilessly. So you can understand my relief when as I was stumbling through the Gospel according to Matthew the other day I found a reference to a couple of guys who seemed to be a lot like me.
In chapter 20 we meet a couple of blind guys sitting by the road outside of Jericho. Now I image blindness is a sucky thing even today, but I can make an educated guess that it guaranteed a life of begging and scraping just to get by in first century Palestine. So these two guys are maybe sitting by a little fire lit with goat dung and eating crusty bread when a big crowd comes by.
At first they probably hope this means a few extra drachmas in the old guitar case. Then they figure out that the rock star of the roadshow is the guy they’ve been hearing about, Jesus of Nazareth. It’s basically like Little Debbie walking through the middle of fat camp. Right?
This is the only guy rumored to actually open the eyes of the blind in the long history of the Jewish people. And the Jewish people’s history includes some pretty freaky stuff, like a talking donkey, a sun that goes backwards and a widow’s son coming back to life. (Not to mention magical underwear and other personal favorites).
So anyway, the blind guys come unhinged. They yell as loud as they can over the tumult, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The text repeats this phrase twice, but judging by the high level of annoyance the crowd unleashes on them, I am guessing it was more like a couple dozen times. (Which is exactly how I feel sometimes!)
Finally Jesus, who must have been in the middle of an inthralling side conversation with Andrew, speaks up. This is it. The big moment. These blind guys are about to be face to face with the magic man, the crowd thrilling Jesus (whom some called the Christ!). So what heart-rending and mind-blowing words come from Jesus’ mouth?
“What do you want me to do for you?” Whahhh? Is this a credit card call center or something? I mean, pardon my Philistinian (the French weren’t really around back then), but what the frick, Jesus? They’re blind aren’t they?
But then I decide to back down a bit before the sky blackens above me and broils with thunderclouds. (Sometimes I get a little worked up when I’m reading.) I think, why not give Jesus the benefit of the doubt here. Maybe this wasn’t such a bonehead question after all.
I guess the two blind guys could have scratched their heads and answered, “You know, Jesus, now that you mention it, it gets pretty cold out here at night. A nice new tunic would be sweet.” But the other guy ribs the first one and says, “No, no. What my friend meant to say was that it would be a lot warmer if we had a brand new house, some swanky new duds and a cellar full of the best wine Rome has to offer.”
No. Ultimately, I think their answer was the only likely one. “Lord, we want our sight.” It really was a no-brainer, but then it finally makes sense to me. I yell stuff at Jesus all the time, and then when he finally asks me what I want him to do for me, as stupid as it sounds, I often overlook the fact that I’m blind and ask him for swank new stuff.