Mr. Branson was diagnosed with total blindness. However, Mr Branson was unaware of it. He vividly described surroundings that did not actually exist. Mr Branson had a rare condition called Anton’s syndrome. What a sorrow it is to lose sight but even worse would be to think you do see but you really can’t. Our Lord wants us to know of our own blindness so that we may be given true sight by Jesus. We are to pray to him: “I want to see again!” And he will heal you!
Can we claim to see but are really blind? Very much so! Spiritual blindness is when we in pride drift into the darkness of thinking we don’t need God’s Gospel of Jesus. The Bible tells us we are all born blind—spiritually blind and that our old Adam is a blind man. …if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe,” 2cor4. But even as Christians we can often put a veil over our heads and claim we see so very well by our own wisdom.
We may even like our darkness. A person can remain blind to our own sinfulness and dream and imagine a false reality that we are so very good and holy. He who says he is in the light, (and remains in sin) is in darkness until now. …and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. It is very easy to claim to see, to see the specks in the eyes of others but remain blinded to the planks in our own eye.
Then there is also the sinful desire to follow a popular and lying blind leader. They promise us so much! Jesus says: They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” mt 15 But the lure of popularity and joining a group, and being loved and welcomed is very alluring even if it is a blind leader leading the group to perdition.
One would think that after the fall into sin in Eden that man would love nothing more in this world than to accept with joy the doctrine that man is made right with God by grace alone through Jesus Christ. Would not all see that Christianity is the one true religion, that offers to us free salvation by God’s pure love and complete forgiveness of sin? No. The opposite is true. The world stumbles and falls at the Gospel, it finds it offensive, the world is so blind it wants the glory and wants a religions that is most strenuous, that makes the most demands to enter heaven. How blind the sinful nature is to the gospel.
But our eyes are opened to our need for sight. Today we hear: a blind man, Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road begging. 47When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many told him to be quiet, but he kept shouting all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” How good to pray for sight! How good to go to God, Jesus Christ for this healing! Bartimaeus knows Jesus is the Son of God whose descendent was King David. He knows Jesus is the Messiah. So do you! So we can join him to be bold to pray: “I want to see again!”
Jesus hears you immediately and acts right away. Why would he ever withhold from you whom he loves true sight? Jesus wants to give you all good thing! Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” They called the blind man, saying, “Cheer up! Get up. He is calling you!” As Bartimaeus’ friends said to him, so I say to you: “Cheer up. Take hearts. Take courage. Be bold. Jesus speaks to you. Your needs are going to be met. Jesus will give you sight too!”
See Bartimaeus rush with eagerness to Jesus for this sight.50He tossed aside his outer garment, jumped up, and went to Jesus. Come to Jesus and he will give you sight. Don’t hesitate and wait for another day. Today is the day! Hear Jesus say to you too:51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks you: What is your great need this day? The blind man replied, “Rabboni, I want to see again.” I know you have many needs. None of them are too small. None of them are too big. Tell Jesus what you want him to do for you. Your biggest need each day includes the prayer: I want to see again. For the light of the gospel of Jesus who is the light of the world is your one thing needed above all needs.
And Bartimaeus was given sight. 52Jesus told him, “Go. Your faith has made you well.” Christ has come to bring spiritual sight to you—to save you, to make you spiritually well again with the sight of life. See that Jesus is on his way south from Galilee to Jerusalem. On his way he passes through Jericho. As Jesus lived here on earth he lived with perfect love and the light of truth. His holy glorious life is for you so that you have holiness through him. His glorious perfection is yours. As Jesus leaves Jericho, his destination is the cross. Jesus sheds his blood for all of your sins. See Jesus hang on that cross on that good Friday forsaken in the darkness of hell. See him go to the blackness of death and yes, into the sealed grave. But in three days the world sees the Messiah alive!
Now you can see God’s love and joy for you, God’s loving face lifted up upon you. God has given you the sight to know all your sins are forgiven. You see that your grave will open. See the door to heaven open for you. You will see God as Job says: For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
As a child and youth you thought you knew and understood so much as St. Paul says: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. You thought you had great insight. Maybe you had a son or daughter who confessed this to you or you did to your own parents. “I was so blind and foolish. I thought I could see. I made so many mistakes. Now I see why you raised me the way you did. Now I see how you loved me.” Likewise, the Holy Ghost has given you the sight today to see your own sin, to see your Savior plan and saving work and understand and believe God’s love and grace and salvation to you! You pray: I want to see! and Jesus gives you sight. As Jesus declared to Bartimaeus so he declares to you: Your faith has made you well—faith in Jesus has saved you!
Mr. Branson was truly blind but he did not believe it. He had Anton’s Syndrome. We too were spiritually blind and claimed we could see. But by the Word of God and the power of the Spirit you now see your sin, see your savior and see your salvation in Christ. We pray for this sight each day: “I want to see again!” And in Jesus Word and Sacrament he gives you sight, each and every day—you see Jesus your loving Savior. Amen.