40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,
41 saying, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, that I may receive my sight."
42 Then Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
What is our response to hearing the good news of the kingdom of God? I remember when I first returned to the church and started reading the Bible in earnest. I was forty-five years old at the time, and I had avoided church for three decades. I was about as unschooled in church matters as one could be at my age--short of having been raised a pagan, of course--and so the language used at our little church concerning salvation and the gospel made no sense to me at first. In those early days, as I read the New Testament and spoke to our beloved Pastor Paul, I started to see what it was about. It was a rare service when I wasn't moved by some hymn or sermon, but I remember sometimes watching the people around me at church, thinking that their raised hands and looks of divine rapture were a bit overdone. "You won't catch me doing that," I thought to myself. Over time, however, my heart of stone began to melt, and the skepticism I was still carrying from thirty years as an agnostic was gradually going away. And then one day, it all just sort of fell into place. John Newton's words rang so true to me at last:
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see!"
And on that day when my eyes were opened and I understood the amazing grace of our Lord and Savior, I wept. I wept for joy at having been found and called to receive the gospel. I wept for all the time I had wasted avoiding the Lord and His people. And I wept for the sight I now had that I did not think I deserved. Most of all, through all my weeping that day, I praised the Lord my God for His abundant mercy and His healing grace.
During Christ's earthly ministry, many people sought Him out to be healed. Since He was constantly traveling and preaching the kingdom of God, He often sought out those who needed healing. At other times, people brought the sick, the lame and the demon-possessed to Jesus for healing. And now and then someone reached out to the Savior just as He was passing by. In today's verses from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has encountered a blind man who called out to Jesus as He walked down the road. The disciples initially told the man to be quiet, but he finally got Jesus' attention, and the Lord asked for him to be brought near.
"What do you want Me to do for you?" the Savior asked.
"Lord, that I may receive my sight," responded the blind man.
In the Greek, the blind man literally says, "Lord, that I may look up." What an image for the lost sinner! What an image for us all before we have looked up and seen the glory of the Cross of Christ! We walk with our eyes cast down, little seeing the glory of the Lord, never knowing that salvation has come. But when the hints are told to us--"So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by." (v.37)--then we start to seek our Savior. Having heard the gospel, we seek the Lord, but for all our calling out, we still need someone to guide us near to Him. As we draw near to Him, He asks what we need, and we say, "To look upon Thy face, dear Lord. To have my eyes opened to Thy Presence, Holy One. To know Thy grace, Lamb of God. To experience Thy mercy, Son of David. To no longer be blind to Thy salvation, Lord Jesus."
"Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
It is our faith that urges us to seek Him, and it is our faith that heals us. It is through faith that the patriarchs of old moved and breathed in pursuit of God's will. And so it is in faith that we can have our eyes opened to the wonders of God's mercy.
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
The prophet Isaiah reminded us, "Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:6) And so the blind man did just that, calling out to the Lord Jesus as He was passing by. He could not see Jesus, but having been told of Him, that was enough for him to call out in faith, seeking mercy from the Son of God.
Blessed are we who believe in Jesus even though we have not seen Him. Blessed are we who seek to have our eyes opened to God's Word and to see with eyes of faith the glory of the gospel. And blessed are we who receive the healing grace of the Savior and respond with praise for the Lord our God.
I sometimes wonder, what did the blind man intend to do with his sight when he received it? What did he hope to see? Did he wish to see the flowers of the field that everyone had described to him from birth? Did he wish to know what people meant by "red lips" and "blue sky" and "black night"? Did we wish to look upon the face of his mother with love and affection? Did he hope to see the road upon which he walked and the clouds that poured the rain? Did he crave the beauty of a sunset without ever having known such beauty existed?
And now that he had his sight, those questions are answered for me: He followed the Lord Jesus, glorifying God. What use is this new sight if we simply return to the darkness? What use are these eyes of faith if they are not always turned upon the Lord Jesus? What purpose is served by staying where we are when Jesus has given us the ability to follow Him and never lose sight of Him?
Having been saved by grace through faith, we can look up to Jesus Christ and know Him as Savior and Lord. We can depart from this place of darkness and follow the Light of the World. We can give up asking for alms and for pity and instead use our voices to praise the living God, who alone is worthy to be praised.
Since that day I accepted Jesus as my Savior and my God, I have never ceased praising Him. I regularly lift my hands in the congregation, and I close my eyes as I experience anew the blessing of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of the assembly, I kneel before my Lord in prayer, but my voice is lifted high as my spirit looks up to the One who has saved me. And as many of you know, I cannot help but speak and write and tell the world about the Holy One of God, the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth. He passed by me one day in my blindness, and I called out to Him, and He replied, "Thy faith hath saved thee." How can I respond but to follow Him and bless His holy name!
Blessed God and Father, praise be to Thy Son and to Thee for Thy saving grace! I cannot move but that Thou hast given me new eyes with which to see the road I now travel. I cannot speak but that I repeat the gospel Thou hast given me. Help me, precious Lord, to continue following Thee, to always seek Thy will, to be ever true to Thy Word in all I say and do. Let mine eyes be never cast down again, but always, ALWAYS be looking up to Thee. Amen.