One of the best Beatles songs was one called “You Won’t See Me.” It’s credited to Lennon and McCartney, but it was written by Paul McCartney in a single evening after his girlfriend, Jane Asher, broke up with him.
At first, the song seems like conventional breakup song fare. A guy tries to patch up the relationship, but she refuses to see him and won’t pick up the phone when he calls. But on closer examination, it becomes clear that there’s more going on. His concerns go deeper than unanswered phone calls and thwarted get-togethers. It turns out that he fears she has never seen him for who he truly is. There’s more to “seeing” than what gets processed through our optic nerves.
In Luke 18, there’s a story of a blind man. He’s a beggar and has posted up in his usual spot along the main road. Soon enough, a flash mob forms and, being unable to see what’s going on, he asks what’s happening and is told that Jesus is coming by. But even though the man’s vision is shot, it turns out he was able to see some things pretty clearly, even before (spoiler alert!) Jesus healed him.
The first thing he sees has to do with himself. Even as his physical needs are profound, he sees that he needs more than healing of his sight. He wants help for his soul.
So, he doesn’t cry out, “Jesus, heal me!” or “Jesus, give to me!” He cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
He wants more from Jesus than physical healing or financial provision. He wants God’s mercy — the love of God toward sinners.
He saw himself truly, which enabled him to see Jesus truly. Hearing of Jesus passing by he calls out to him as “Jesus, Son of David!” Not long before this, a rich young ruler addressed Jesus as “good teacher.” Jesus seizes on this greeting, asking the young man why he would call him “good teacher,” telling him that only God is good.
He gets into that with him not to suggest that He’s not good. Instead, he presses him to understand the full implications of what he has just said so flippantly. Perhaps if he could see what actual “goodness” is, he might come to see as the blind man has. Perhaps he could see that, even though he is a man of great reputation and personal resources, he too needs God’s mercy and that only Jesus can give it. The rich young ruler was blind, and Jesus wanted him to see.
Even without his powers of sight, the blind man could see Jesus for who He is. He doesn’t call him as “good teacher” but “Son of David,” the Savior-King God had promised to deliver His people from their sins.
There’s a great promise in the Bible that says that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Sure enough, when the man cries out to His Jesus as Savior he hears, goes to him and asks him what he wants.
With Jesus in front of him, the man calls Jesus “Lord.” This isn’t just good manners, like we might say “sir” or “ma’am.” This isn’t courtesy. It’s a confession of faith. What he lacked in physical sight, he made up for in spiritual insight, seeing Jesus for who he really is.
This gave him a conviction about what Jesus could really do, so he asks for the impossible: his sight.
Then he saw something so obvious it’s easy to miss: He saw Jesus. His restored vision was filled with Jesus himself. Jesus gave him more than sight. He gave him salvation by faith through grace. He gave himself.
If we were ranking Bible stories, a man being healed of blindness
would rank highly. And yet, this supernatural thing Jesus did in healing this man is a vivid picture of the saving thing he does in the heart of everyone who puts their faith in Jesus.
Coming to faith in Jesus Christ is to be cured of the blindness caused by sin, “so that the eyes of hearts are enlightened by the grace of God,” to paraphrase how Paul puts in Eph. 1:17.
This leaves us with some important questions to consider. First, can we see ourselves for who we really are? There may be no better people than those who live in Kerrville, Texas. And yet, there’s not a soul here who doesn’t need God’s mercy toward sinners more than anything else.
We all need more than a boost in becoming better. We need a cure for the blindness caused by our sin.
The blind man knew that there’s no improving on blindness. It must be cured. We all stand in need of a powerful grace that would enable us to see that we are far more sinful than we ever imagined, even as Jesus is far more gracious than we ever dreamed.
This leads to another question: Will you see Jesus for who he is? He is more than a “good teacher.” He is the Son of God, Lord, Savior of Sinners.
The blind man refused to let Jesus pass him by. Seeing the truth about himself, he cried out to Jesus to do what only He could do as Lord and Savior, to save his soul and cause him to really and truly see.
As one writer put it, “Jesus has to be believed to be seen; if you believe in him, you will see him, and by his mercy you will be saved.”
This, incidentally, is my last column for this paper, as I have been called to serve another church in New Mexico. What a joy and privilege it has been to write for this paper and serve as a pastor in this wonderful community these years.
My cup overflows.
The Rev. John Standridge is pastor at Christ Church Presbyterian. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.