The blind men, the sick, the lame, and the disfigured needed to know whether this Jesus that they'd heard so much about - the one doing all of the signs and miracles - was for them. Could this Jesus be more than just a prophet? Could He be their God?
It's the same question that many of us still have, but we have to admit that it is a troubling one. If this God is our God and if this God is for us and if this God both can and will heal us, then why doesn't He? If all of these things are true about the God who does miracles, why doesn't He do miracles for us? If He can, and He is willing, to eliminate our suffering, then why do we suffer?
We do not see much record of this in the Gospels, at least not without reading between the lines. There is not one recorded case of a person begging Christ for mercy, reaching out to Him for healing, and not receiving it. There is not one mention of a miracle not performed. And yet, it would be foolish of us not to recognize that there was still suffering all around.
There were always blind men. There were always the lame. These persons did not cease to exist just because Jesus was among them. We know the stories of the ones who came to Christ, but what about the others? What about the blind men who never begged for mercy? Could this Lord have been their God, too?
There's a fundamental difference in orientation between the recipients of miraculous healing in the Gospels and the rest of us. Actually, there might be two fundamental differences, neither of which can be ignored.
First, the healed that we read about in the Gospels actually came to Jesus. It sounds basic, simple, but it's a significant aspect of this whole dynamic that we often overlook. We spend a lot of our time begging Jesus to come to us. We spend a lot of our time hiding in our rooms, lying in our beds like princesses in the tallest tower, waiting on our Jesus to slay the dragons, bust down the gates, and save us. Heal us.
And yet, there's not one record of Jesus actually doing this. There is no story in the Gospels where Jesus says to His disciples, "Come, we must go to 1042 Dusty Way, where there is a woman in distress who requires the healing only I can provide." No. The story is that the streets were lined with the broken - blind men following the noise, lame men carried by friends, bleeding women pushing their way through the crowds, tax collectors climbing trees. Everyone who received any measure of the mercy and the grace of God through Jesus came to Him.
Second, and equally important, is that those who came to Jesus were prepared to follow Him.
This is another story we see playing out again and again throughout the Gospels. Jesus gives sight to a blind man, and the blind man's inclination is to follow Him. He gives sound to the deaf, and the deaf man wants to go with Him. He casts out the demon, and the man in his right mind is prepared to join the ministry. Over and over, those who come into contact with Jesus ache to follow Him.
Not us. Not really. Most of us want Jesus to heal us just so that we can get back to our "normal" lives. We stand like dogs at the gate, waiting on Jesus to open it so that we can run free once more. Our fundamental orientation, even at the very moments when we are so desperately seeking Him, is turned away from Him. We look out toward the horizon, rather than staring up at the Cross. And if this is the case, is it any wonder that Jesus does not seem to be in a hurry to end our suffering? If our suffering is the only thing that's holding us back from running away, why would He be quick to turn us out to pasture?
Foolish sheep! You do not know what you do not know.
To understand our Lord in the same way that the blind, the sick, the lame, the broken in the Gospels knew Him, we must come as they came. To know that our God is for us, we must be to Him. We must come, not waiting on Him to find us, but lining the roads and crying out and climbing trees. And we must turn our faces, our very postures, toward Him, ready not to run, but to follow. Only then can we discover what the blind men did:
Yes, this is our God. Yes, He does amazing things. Yes, He does them even for me. Because my God is for me.
He's really for me.