Lectionary Reading: 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13 (NRSV)
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
was blind but now I see
John Newton penned these famous lyrics in the 18th century. He eventually was ordained as a minister in the Church of England at the age of 39 which was no spring chicken in the 1700’s. Before he was converted, he worked on a slave ship. After his conversion he fought to abolish slavery.
The last line, “was blind but now I see” refers to his enlightenment in Christ. We are often blind to the plight of our neighbor until grace sets us free to see it.
Jesus heals the blind many times in the gospels. One of my favorites comes from the 8th chapter of Mark:
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Mark 8:22-25 (NRSV)
The man starts to see but needs more exposure to Jesus to really see clearly. The saliva is an earthy quality of healing that connects him to Jesus in an intimate way. Interestingly, this passage directly precedes Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the Messiah. Peter starts to understand what that means but then immediately gets it wrong when he corrects Jesus about the need to suffer and die. He will need more exposure to Jesus (possibly the resurrection) before he can truly understand.
We don’t always get it. Sometimes we have to be shown. In today’s passage, David needs the prophet Nathan to tell him a story to ignite his compassion. When Nathan deftly draws the comparison to David, the veil is lifted. He then understands his own actions clearly.
We are not so different. Many times, we may need a story to draw us in. A testimony of someone’s need may fuel our own sense of compassion and cause us to respond. I am trying to see my neighbor more clearly - maybe more like Jesus sees them. Sometimes they still look like trees walking but I’m starting to see with more focus.
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Yuval Y via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.