What would it have sounded like for blind men to hear Jesus stop?
For the blind, Jesus coming along their way would be all about the sounds. Sitting alongside a roadway in the hope of getting a few coins to buy their daily bread had a wearisome familiarity to it. Same sounds. Same activities. Same results.
So, what about the day Jesus was going by? What was different?
What we know is that something happened to alert them “that Jesus was passing by”. It is easy to imagine an unusual commotion that the blind would have perceived as different from the norm simply because of the sounds. We can picture them asking someone to tell them what was going on.
But what about the moment they discover it is Jesus passing by?
These men know all about what it is like to seize the moment. Every person going up or down the road would give them a tiny opportunity to get their attention and plead for help. They alone would know how many times a day, and how many days of their lives, they survived by these minutes of connection that would supply their daily need.
This day was different. It was Jesus passing by. Somehow they had already heard about him, enough that they believed he was the Lord, the Son of David. Whether this could have happened in the few minutes it took for Jesus and a crowd to pass in front of these two men, or they had other opportunities to hear him, we cannot know.
What we do know is that the awareness that this was Jesus passing by was the biggest change in life they had ever experienced. They knew that it was a moment in their lives that may never come again. The hopelessness of their need combined with the immediacy of the opportunity triggered a desperate faith that had to get Jesus’ attention.
When the men cried out for mercy, the crowd tried to silence them because they didn’t want anything interrupting their adventure with Jesus that day. All the seeing people had their own agendas of what they wanted to get out of his activities. They were listening to what he was saying, thinking about where they were going, marveling at the things Jesus was doing, and two blind men annoying them with their incessant shouting didn’t fit!
However, the more the crowd told these men to be quiet, the more urgently they called out because this was THEIR moment. Whoever else was with Jesus that day was going to benefit from being with him wherever he went and whatever he did. Only these two men were stuck with a moment that was passing by. It was their one shot to attach to the Messiah for themselves, and they would not be dissuaded.
It was nothing new that these men would call out in repetitive phrases. Asking one person after another for a coin to buy bread was their daily monotony.
However, today the repetitive phrase would be something they had never asked in their whole lives. “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The more they were told to be quiet, the louder they cried. They did not want the crowd’s answer; they wanted Jesus’ answer!
And then it happened. And it happened as only blind people would have experienced it. Jesus stopped.
What did that sound like? What did these men hear that others missed because they only saw? What was the first sound that the ebb tide had ended and a slack tide of quiet had arrived? Was it that the whole crowd grew silent because they suddenly saw that Jesus had stopped? Or was it the awareness that voices that were moving past were now standing still?
Whatever the case, the sound of Jesus stopping would have been an amazing thing for men who could not see. What waves of hope would have suddenly come over them? What feeling of anticipation suddenly began growing in place of the desperation to attach?
Have you ever had the experience of reading something in God’s word and suddenly realizing, “Hey! That’s Me!”
That is exactly what I am feeling with this present adventure in the life of the blind men. They would have heard the sound of Jesus stopping. Or the absence of sound that was just as loud.
And I realize that the noise in me is never silent. Hyper-vigilance never turns off. Attachment-Light-Always-On-ness is never quiet. There is always the sound of listening, and wondering, and examining, and considering, and rehearsing, and weighing, but not quiet.
And now I am listening for the quietness of Jesus stopping. I hear the noise of a thousand people moving along with a willfulness that matches their own dreams and desires, but now I hear Jesus stopping. And the mere wonder of a slack tide holds my breath to listen. The silence of Jesus stopping. Mesmerizing. Wonderful. Peaceful. Hopeful. Promising.
And in the intensity of listening as only the blind can do, these men suddenly heard Jesus calling to them, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The issue here is not that they were hearing such words for the first time. Perhaps they had often heard stranger’s voices ask them what they would like. “A coin for bread, please!” they would reply.
However, this was the first time they heard the voice of Jesus, the Lord, the Son of David, asking them what they wanted from him, and that made all the difference!
No, a coin would not suffice! No, daily bread was not the deepest need. The request had to match the person who was offering to help.
And so, the cry of the blind men’s hearts blurted out what required no additional thought whatsoever, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
What a prayer! “The Christ came to open the eyes of the blind, so let us see!”
The flood tide was beginning as hope-filled hearts responded to the Savior’s invitation. While the men had often experienced people passing by and ignoring their plaintiff requests for help, Jesus was the Son of David. Jesus was the King who would sit on David’s throne. And Jesus was THERE!
I am quite sure that my stage has been set to travel with Jesus through his invitation for the next few days. I expect things to get quite personal with me answering his question of what I would like him to do for me. There will be reminders and clarifications of things that qualify as blindness, but only as they are led into the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
For now, with you in mind, I express things in prayer to Jesus that all his brothers can ask him to do in our lives:
“Lord, let our eyes be opened! Give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ so that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened! Let us have personal attachment to knowing the hope to which we have been called, and what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints! Let us know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe so that, just as the Father raised you from the dead, we would experience the fullness of our resurrection into newness of life!”
“Our Father in heaven, according to the riches of your glory, grant that we would be strengthened with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Jesus Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith — that we who are already rooted and grounded in the love of Christ may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of this love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
I am going to continue through my day captivated by what it would have sounded like for Jesus to stop. As blind men heard that in a way that all the seeing people could not, there are things each of us will hear when Jesus stops what he is doing to respond to our prayers.
And, because the word of God is living and active, always teaching, reproving, correcting, and training in righteousness, when Jesus stops and asks us what we need from him, he is waiting to hear how deeply we want what only he can give.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)