The blind cannot see. When the blind cannnot see, the blind cannot recognize.
~ Yolanda Joshua
How do we know we are spiritually blind? If leaders, how do discern blindness in our followers? The Scriptures seem to show mercy toward the physically blind, extend hope for healing, and then challenge to the spiritually blind.
Mistreatment of the Blind — Put no stumbling block in the way of the blind (Lev. 19:14). If you mislead a blind man on the road, then you are cursed (Deut. 27:18).
Blindness as a Blemish — The blind could not serve as priests (Lev. 21: 18). If Aaron’s descendants met any of the blemish criteria, then they could not draw near to God to offer sacrifice.
Opening the Eyes of the Blind — From the Psalms into the Prophets, there is hope for the blind. Part of the Lord’s mission, part of the Messianic mission included sight for the blind. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind (Ps. 146:8a). Isaiah prophesies a future where the eyes of the blind shall be opened (35:5). In one of his four Servant Songs, Isaiah declares part of Jesus’ purpose to open eyes that are blind (42:7).
Jesus Addresses the Dichotomy of Blindness — Jesus speaks to the physically blind and the spiritually blind. As proof of His Messiahship to John’s disciples, Jesus sends the men back to an imprisioned John the Baptist. “Tell him the blind receive their sight” (Matt. 11:5). The man blind from birth in John 9, after the debate of blindness being a consequence for parental sins, says when asked how he was healed, “One thing I do know, I was blind, now I see” (v. 25).
Pharisees as Blind Guides — Jesus asked a question that is counted as a parable. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit (Lk. 6:39)?” In Matt. 15:14, Jesus called out the Pharisees. They are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. Jesus also rebukes the behavior of blind guides. Woe, or trouble to the blind guides who lead people into binding oaths (Matt. 23:16). What are binding oaths?
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Matt. 23:16-26 ESV (emphasis added)
Hope of Healing — Jesus’ public reveal happened at a synagogue. He stood up to read and found the passage in the prophets to declare He was anointed to proclaim recovery of sight to the blind (Lk. 4:18).
We travel all this way through the Scripture to emphasize our need for God’s anointing. When we discern spiritual blindness, are we anointed to bring recovery of sight? Do we trust in God’s anointing in/on our lives and assignments to cause the blind to see?
Who are the blind? — Consider 2 Peter 1:3-10. God gives us all we need regarding life and godliness, to participate in the divine, to be like Him, through His promises (vv. 3-4). Because God made provision for us to be godly, to be like Him, Apostle Peter challenged us to make every effort to scaffold our faith with
WHOEVER LACKS THESE QUALITIES IS SO NEARSIGHTED AS TO BE BLIND. And not just blind, but forgetful of the cleansing of the finished work of Jesus from our former sins.
Challenge to Laodicea — The letter to the church at Laodicea confronts ignorance at spiritual blindness. The Laodiceans said they were rich, prospered and needed nothing. They did not realize they were wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked (Rev. 3:17).
If physically blind, everyone knows it. There may be a guide dog. The blind may carry a long stick for assistance. When spiritually blind, the scriptures are clear that it is possible to not know. It is possible to walk and ably use our senses, and be ignorant that we are spiritually blind. This is why we rely on God’s anointing to destroy the yoke of blindness, to remove the burden of binding oaths we accept when we are blind. Even Apostle Peter creates context around blindness — we need all seven qualities, not to follow out of duty to a to-do list. We need the hearts that are sensitive to our own true conditions, and in the pursuit of God and Christlikeness, we purify our spiritual sight, gain discipline to seek the truth, learn temperance and patience, and exercise godliness, community and God’s love.
Shaunta D. Scroggins is the lead contributor for the Berean’s Commentary.
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