One of the great attributes of God is his mercy toward his creation. God creates people to be in his likeness only to watch each person ever made rebel against him. Jesus is going to tell us in this section how mercy is given to the people he made who have rebelled.
Jesus Has To Die (18:31-34)
For mercy to come to the world, Jesus has to die. This is the sixth announcement of Jesus’ death. Jesus gives a detailed prediction of all that will happen when they go to Jerusalem. But notice that this is the prophetic plan of God. Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. First, Jesus would be handed over to the Gentiles. The Jews will not kill Jesus themselves. They will turn Jesus over to the Gentiles as a criminal. Second, Jesus will be mocked. He will not receive any respect. He will not be honored as the king that he is. Rather, they will make fun of him for his claim of kingship. Third, Jesus will be shamefully treated. Not only will the mockery be of words, but also in action. They will put a scarlet robe on him, a crown of thorns, and reed in his hand, and bow down to him in mockery of his claim. Fourth, Jesus will be spit on. What vile and disgusting treatment to be spit on. Fifth, Jesus will be flogged. This was a custom that was often part of the crucifixion process. Based upon the prophecy in Isaiah 52:14 and the short time Jesus lasts on the cross, the evidence points to Jesus being severely flogged. Sixth, Jesus will be killed. Consider the weight of the words Jesus is saying. We are going to Jerusalem and I am going to be killed. Also notice that nothing that is about to happen is a surprise to Jesus. There is nothing that will transpire that is by accident. The prophets predicted these evident. None of these actions catch Jesus off guard. To make any suggestion that the death of Jesus was not part of the plan is completely false. Jesus’ rejection and death was the plan of God. Jesus is predicting it and is going to Jerusalem anyway. This is the way that mercy is going to come to the world. This is way that Jesus will save people from their sins. Seventh, on the third day Jesus will rise. How amazing is this? Not only is Jesus predicting with death with amazing details, but now he is predicting his resurrection! They are going to kill him but in three days he will raise from the dead.
But none of these things were understood by his disciples. This did not fit the disciples’ expectations or understanding of the Messiah. How is it possible for the Messiah, the Savior of the world, to die? It is difficult for us to appreciate how surprising this road Jesus is taking would be. The road for our mercy is the road of suffering and death for the Savior.
The Cry For Mercy (18:35-43)
As Jesus comes near Jericho on his way to Jerusalem, there was a blind man sitting by the roadside begging. It is important to keep in mind that there was not a social welfare system to deal with those with disabilities. The disabled relied upon their families and the good hearts of those who passed by. There was nothing else a disabled person could do. While sitting on the roadside, the blind man hears a crowd go by and asks what the great noise is all about. The crowd tells him that Jesus of Nazareth is walking by. The blind man cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who were in the front of the crowd rebuked this blind man, telling him to keep quiet. But the blind man shouts all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stops and has the blind man brought to him. Then Jesus asks what he wants him to do. The blind man responds, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” Jesus tells him “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.” Immediately the man recovered his sight and followed Jesus, glorifying God. When all the people saw this, they also gave praise to God. Now, let’s consider what Luke is doing in this chapter. The rich ruler desired eternal life but did not receive it. But the blind beggar receives his sight. Why does the blind beggar find mercy?
Sin blinds us from seeing God.
The first point we must observe is that the blind man calls Jesus “the Son of David” twice when he learns that Jesus was walking by. What does this title mean? This a messianic confession of great significance. The Messiah is called “the Son of David” based on a prophecy made by the Lord through the prophet Nathan to King David.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:12–13 ESV) The blind man recognizes that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the king of Israel, and the healer of the people (cf. Luke 4:18-19). The ruler saw Jesus as a good teacher. The blind man sees Jesus as the Messianic King.
The world is not stupid. The world is blind. They cannot see what we are talking about. They do not understand Jesus nor understand what we are doing because they are blind and they always have been blind. Things that seem obvious cannot be seen by them. This is why we get frustrated when people do not see that Jesus is God. The world does not understand who Jesus is. He is treated like the Pharisee and the ruler treated him. He considered a good teacher. He is considered to be just another man trying to do a good thing for the world with his teachings. Sin blinds us from seeing God. Listen to what the apostle Paul said:
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)
If you have not obeyed Jesus and become his disciple, the struggles you are dealing with in your conscience is because you have been blinded by Satan and his work on your heart. He is trying to keep you from seeing the greatness of Jesus. He is trying to make you question what we are doing here right now. He is trying to distract you from listening to God’s word. He is trying to harden your heart so that you will not listen. He wants you to ignore the stirring in your heart that God is creating through his word. He wants you to go back to your schedule, mindless doing the mundane things of life, ignoring the reality of eternity. Sin blinds us from seeing who Jesus is and what he has done for each of us. Jesus is God who came to the earth in the fulfillment of God’s plan to suffer mockery and shameful treatment. He came to be spit on, flogged, and killed all so that atonement could be made so God could show mercy to the world. The resurrection proves Jesus is God. But mercy to enter the kingdom is not universal, as we have seen throughout these stories in this chapter. Mercy is given to those who are able to see God.
Sin blinds us from seeing who we really are.
The second thing we notice about the blind man is his persistent cry for mercy. He is rebuked by the crowd. They tell him to keep quiet. Don’t bother the teacher. But the man cried out all the more for Jesus. Notice that he is not crying out for money or crying out for food. Listen to the words of the blind man: “Have mercy on me!” What did we hear in the prayer of the tax collector earlier in this chapter? “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). The tax collector went home justified while the Pharisee did not. When Jesus told the rich ruler to keep the commandments for eternal life, he told Jesus that he had done such. He was blind to the fact that he needed mercy. The blind man in this story is not blind spiritually at all. He understands his need. He does not need food. He does not need money. He needs mercy from the Son of David! He cries out repeatedly, “Have mercy on me!” This blind man will not be denied. He strongly desired mercy unlike the rich ruler. The blind are the ones who do not think they are blind but can see clearly. This is the Pharisee and the rich ruler. They do not see that they are blind. They think they are doing just fine and do not recognize that Jesus is the only cure for their blindness. They do not see their sinfulness and therefore do not come to the Savior for forgiveness. Mercy is given to those who see their need for forgiveness. Mercy does not come to those who stand on their own merits and righteousness, believing their goodness makes them okay before God.
Finding mercy in the kingdom of God comes about in the same way. We need to call out to God to be merciful to us. In Acts 2:21 Peter quotes the prophecy of Joel that with the coming of the Christ, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It is an amazing prophecy of mercy. Peter tells us how to make that call on the Lord for mercy. The people ask Peter, “What must we do to be saved?” (Acts 2:37)? Peter responds, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The apostle Paul was told the same thing at his conversion. Ananias told Paul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). Peter taught that baptism is the appeal to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21). These are the steps God has commanded to receive mercy through the death of Jesus. Do you see that you need a Savior? Do you see that God has sent Jesus to die for your sins and salvation is only found in him? Come to Jesus today and find mercy.