JESUS THE OPTOMETRIST
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
August 16, 2015
29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
— Matthew 20:29-34, ESV
Jesus was an optometrist, but He did more that merely correct myopia or hyperopia. He made blind people see. Jesus was a cardiologist, but He did more than coronary artery bypass graft surgery. He gave people new hearts. And, Jesus was a mortician, but He did more than fix bodies with formaldehyde and follow the family to the cemetery. He caused the dead to rise again and follow Him.
This familiar miracle, a favorite of the Lord Jesus Christ, fits neatly into the first category of extreme optometrical practice. Three of the four Gospel writers report it, albeit with slightly different perspectives, and all Four Gospels report several other significant stories of the Lord restoring the sight of the blind. Jesus cured blindness to fulfill Old Testament prophecy and establish His New Testament ministry. People received healing, Jesus received messianic consideration, and gospel preachers and hymn writers received a beautiful and wonderful illustration.
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.
-- John Newton
Making a blind man see is a notable miracle that has not been performed since the days of Christ and the Apostles. But the greater miracle of curing spiritual blindness and bringing salvation has never stopped. Let’s look at this story and see how the two are related, and how you can be a spiritual optometrist, just like the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Unseen Heroes
Blind people could not read in Jesus’ day, for that was long before the breakthrough of braille. Blind people could not drive, for there were no cars, and blind people do not drive today, although after living back in Arkansas for the past three years, sometimes I wonder. Blind people have ways and means to cope with their problems today, but in Jesus’ day they were completely helpless, totally dependent upon others to meet their basic needs.
Before these two blind men see the Lord Jesus Christ, some other people they could not see did some wonderful things for them. Who told them about Jesus? They couldn’t read the Scriptures for themselves, but someone had told them and taught them about the Messiah, the Prince from the lineage of King David, the one who would eradicate blindness and make people see the kingdom of God. Who brought them to Jesus? They could not drive to the city limits of Jericho, nor could they safely arrive by foot. Someone taught them and someone brought them in order for Jesus to have this opportunity to heal them.
Would you like to be an eternal hero is someone’s life? Tell them about Jesus. Bring them to places where they can experience the presence of Christ. Give a Bible, talk about the gospel, invite people and bring people to sacred worship services and Bible studies. Lost and unchurched people are badly blinded at worst and nearsighted at least, and they won’t see Jesus unless we who are in the church reach out to them and bring them.
Thanks to Mark, we know one of the blind men’s names, Bartimaeus. However, we don’t know any of the names of the people who read the Bible to him or helped him get to Jericho that day. But they are heroes we will see in Heaven. Great will be their reward, and yours too, if you dedicate you life to sharing Christ with family, friends, neighbors, and others.
The Gift of Sight
On the Godward side, this is a rather exclusive miracle. Not every person who was blind in Jesus’ day received their sight. Not every crippled person was made to walk. Precious few dead people walked out of their coffin or tomb. The persons who received a miracle in Jesus’ day were not chosen by choice or chance or any other human device. They were selected by the sovereignty of God, so that God could do them good and glorify His own name. This is the process by which every miracle, physical or spiritual, takes place. God decrees it, God does it, God’s people are blessed, and God is glorified in it all.
On earthly ground, however, this miracle seemed ripe for the taking. These men talked to the Lord, turned to the Lord, and took from the Lord the greatest gift of all. Sight was a bonus. Salvation was the greatest gift God gave to them. And as surely as they could see, they became fully devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament and New Testament concur, whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved — anyone, anytime, anywhere. The sovereignty of God notwithstanding, and the necessity of a witness not neglected, it is up to the individual to intelligently, emotionally, and volitionally come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Saving truth enters through the head, where our vision and thought process converge. It penetrates the heart with great conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. It consumes the will, making faithful followers and obedient servants to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Have you called out to Jesus Christ, acknowledging Him as “Lord” and Savior as these men did? Do you know in your heart that you have been blinded by sin and pride and only God can forgive you and make you whole? Are you willing to follow Jesus in real discipleship and responsible membership in the New Testament church? If you call upon Him for “mercy” (humbly admitting your sin and inability to remedy it for yourself), you will find what these men found, the “pity” (ESV), perhaps better translated “compassion” (KJV, NAS, NIV), of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Compassion” is that strong word in the Bible to describe God’s strong and moving love towards someone that moves Him to action. Jesus healed their blindness in that day and He can save your soul any day you sincerely ask.
There was organic proof of their physical blindness turned into sight, and there was tangible proof that their spiritual blindness was turned into salvation.
The Proof of Discipleship
Every true believer admires Bonhoeffer’s classic work, The Cost of Discipleship. But in a way, discipleship has no costs, only proofs. It doesn’t cost you anything to become a Christian, for Jesus paid it all. But without proof, however, no profession of faith is valid. Without works, faith is dead. I see strong proof of saving faith in these men before, during, and after this miraculous encounter with Jesus.
Before, as they began to call on the name of the Lord, the crowd tried to keep them quiet. They would not be silent. There were not ashamed to admit their need, they were not ashamed of their belief that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and they were willing to risk embarrassment, or worse, to demonstrate their faith in God. A true disciple is never ashamed of the gospel, the word of God, and the simple, saving faith that is found only in Jesus Christ.
During the encounter with Jesus, they were miraculously transformed, changed, made new men. Curing physical and spiritual blindness are both great miracles, with the latter being greater than the former. Salvation is conversion, conversion is regeneration, and regeneration is a miracle only God can perform on a person. These men were completely changed in mind, heart, and will.
After the experience of grace, they willingly followed Jesus on the road to the cross. We do not know precisely what became of them, although there are legends about Bartimaeus’ Christian testimony and service. But we do know that saved people are fully devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you are not following Jesus in proof-giving discipleship, you have never been saved, or at least have no right to believe you have been saved. Faith results in fellowship with God and follow-ship of God, without exception, except in the possible case of a death-bed conversion. Please don’t wait until you are about to die. Follow Jesus right now.
JESUS THE OPTOMETRIST
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org