Three Times Blind (Luke 18:18ff)
Blind Young Ruler: Blinded by Riches (verses 18-27)
The rich young ruler asks Jesus what he needs to do to gain eternal life. He is expecting to hear from Jesus that there is nothing else that he needs to do, which we know from the following conversation where he claims to have perfectly kept all of the commandments. He addresses Jesus as “good teacher.” In Jesus’ response, He is not denying that he is both good and God, but his response is intended to put the young man to the test to see whether or not he really understood what he was saying.
Though the man claims to have kept all of the commandments, Jesus says that there is still one things he lacks. We shouldn’t take Jesus’ words to mean that by selling everything we own we will then gain entrance into the Kingdom. We should, however, take him to mean that we must remove the idols that are preventing us from entrance into the Kingdom, whatever they might be. The selling of all his possessions and distributing it to the poor was not something else for this rich young man to rely on for being right with God. Rather, it was the method of removing everything that stood between him and being right with God. He was in no way ready to part with his riches, even if it meant being made right with Christ.
It is not impossible for the rich to get into the Kingdom, but it is difficult. On the other hand, it is impossible for either the rich or the poor to enter the Kingdom apart from the supernatural work of God. There is something in all of us naturally, whether it be money or some other idol, that separates us from being right with God. If we expect to receive anything from the hand of Christ, we must be willing to part with everything that stands between us and Him.
– We see from this story that one sin can do the soul great damage. Is there one thing that stands between your soul and the God who made you? Is there one thing that you love better than Jesus Christ?
Blind Disciples: Blinded by Wrong Understanding (verses 28-34)
Peter is responding to Jesus’ demand to the rich young ruler to give everything away. After hearing Jesus instruction to the rich man, he must have been thinking, “We have left our homes, we are poor, and we don’t have money to give away. We can still be saved, right?” He wants to make sure that he and the other disciples have given up enough. Jesus clarifies that they have not given up anything that will not be made up for, exponentially. Sacrifice for Jesus is not loss. There is no sacrifice for Christ that will not be repaid, both now and eternally. Peter was blind to the promise of receiving “many times as much” now and eternally.
For the fourth time on this journey to Jerusalem, Jesus clearly tells the disciples of his impending suffering and death. He is simply referencing the Old Testament teaching about what He was to undergo, but the disciples still could not see that he must suffer. The cross was central in Jesus’ life and ministry, and yet those who were closest to him could not see it. Still today, there are many who downplay or outright reject His substitutionary sacrifice as an absolute necessity for forgiveness.
– What has following Christ cost you? What comfort can you find from Jesus’ words to Peter assuring him of our incomparably great reward?
– In contrast with the disciples at this point in Luke’s gospel and many in our own day, are you living in light of the absolute necessity of the death and resurrection of Christ? Do you continually consider your total dependence on Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf?
Blind Bartimaeus: Physically Blind (verses 35-43)
Though Bartimaeus was blind, he was able to see his need: he saw his need to see, he saw his need of money, and he saw his need of a Savior. In fact, he was the only one in these three stories with eyes to see. He knew that there was hope and he was diligent to do all he could to speak to him. His neediness forced him to ignore those attempting to silence him in order that he might be heard by the Savior. He was saved not merely because of his knowledge of Christ, but because he lived on that knowledge by actively putting his faith in Jesus. It was his faith that led him to cry out to Jesus and it was his faith that made him well. Christ is always found by those who seek Him!
– The pattern that we see in this blind beggar should be our pattern as well: showing up in the places where Christ is, crying out to Him for mercy, and sitting near when His Word is read and preached. What means of grace in your life can be described as diligent? How can you grow in diligence in those areas?