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!” …
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. (verses 30, 32-34)
This story also appears in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, but both only tell us of one blindman, Mark adding the further detail that his name was “Bartimaeus.” Matthew alone tells us that there were two men together, both calling out in unison. They are mercilessly rebuked by the crowd but cry out all the louder. These two passion-filled voices caught everyone’s attention, Jesus’ included.
But I’m most interested in how they address him. “Son of David,” they call him. It’s the very phrase Matthew himself uses at the beginning of his Gospel as he introduces Jesus to us for the first time, naming him “Jesus Christ the son of David” (Matthew 1:1). It’s a phrase that indicates Jesus’ genealogy, but it is also specifically used as a title for the Messiah (the Christ), and Matthew intends us to hear it with that full significance. It seems these blind men do, too. They have heard enough about Jesus to awaken hope (and real faith) that he is truly the Anointed One, long promised in scripture to bring healing and deliverance to God’s people. Specifically, they would remember this promise: “Your God will come … then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped”(Isaiah 35:4-5). It was enough to make them shout all the louder!
The people as a whole will use this same title for Jesus in the very next chapter when he rides into Jerusalem in triumph – they shout, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9), though their acclaim is short-lived, for within several days many will be shouting, “Crucify him.” Meanwhile, up till now the only ones in Matthew’s account who have called Jesus “Son of David” are two other blind men (Matthew 9:27) and one lone Canaanite woman whose daughter was helplessly demon-possessed (Matthew 15:22). Interesting. And ironic. No one else saw it, just four sets of blind eyes and one set of Gentile eyes, seeing clearly enough to call out to Jesus as the promised Messiah. Perhaps their intense need allowed them to see despite physical blindness on the one hand and non-Jewish background on the other.
The two blindmen here have a simple, powerful request: “Lord, we want our sight.” Jesus, with mercy and compassion, answers.
Their example still speaks today – simple and powerful, whatever our need, whatever our longing, driving right to the point. “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
May we, too, cry out unhindered, knowing even better than those two men that Jesus, Son of David, came “to give his life as a ransom for many” – his mercy and compassion are sure.
Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. Here are my needs. Here are my longings. Please meet me where I am. Have mercy on me.
Pray: What needs, for yourself or others, are weighing on you right now? Bring them to Jesus. All day, keep praying: “Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”