The Gospel writer Matthew shares a story about Jesus’ interaction with two blind men that caused him to respond with compassion.
Matthew 20:29-34 says,
As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
I have tried to imagine what life would be like if I were blind. So many things in life would be affected if I had no sight. It is hard to think about not seeing the faces of those I love, beautiful paintings, colorful flowers, or amazing sunsets. On this day, for some reason, Jesus simply could not walk by these two men who were blind. Something about their situation touched him at the core of his being and he had to do something about it.
As I picture the scene recorded by Matthew, it seems a bit comical. Here are these two men shouting to Jesus while the crowd keeps telling them to shut-up, but they just shout even louder. When Jesus abruptly stops, I see the people following him bump into each other asking, “why is he stopping here?”
The blind men in this passage could represent a whole category of people we meet every day—those who suffer physically because something is not right with their body. If I had the time and space, I could make a very long list of the ways people suffer physically. This list would include things like paralysis, deafness, meningitis, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and all the different kinds of cancer.
I especially hate cancer! It took my favorite university professor named Bob when he was 62 years old. It also claimed the life of one of my favorite students named Steve who had a passion to reach the unreached in the Chicago-land area. Steve died at 32 and left a wife and 7-year old daughter. Cancer also took one of my closest friends named Marvin a few years ago when he was 61 years old.
The main question I want to ask is, do we see those who are physically suffering all around us? And if we see them, do we respond in any way? There are many helpful responses to physical suffering, including things like visiting someone in the hospital, providing food for a family, providing babysitting, writing encouragement cards, and of course, praying for healing.
Reflections: People with physical ailments are all around us every day. Ask the Lord to help you notice them and give you a heart of compassion for them. Ask the Lord to show you if there is something you can do or say to express that compassion.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.