Leading the Blind
Have I ever mentioned my good friend Russ? Well, Russ was the manager of the Sohio gas station just a few blocks from the high school. I started working for him the summer I turned sixteen. One day I was working on a Saturday with my friend Ron Hayes. Now Ron had a great-great uncle who was the nineteenth president of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes.
It was a hot day in Ohio in August. It had to be close to 90 degrees. During one of the slow spells we were busy cleaning the two bays in the garage when we heard the semi-truck horn blowing behind the station. Ron looked out the back window to view the large gas tanks of the bulk station also owned by Sohio. Ron called me over for a look. There as a tanker parked in front of the massive tanks with a large puddle of gasoline under it. The truck driver came around the front of the truck. He was holding both hands across his eyes and screaming at the top of his lungs I told Ron to grab the radiator water bucket and fill it with water and bring it out to me. I ran out and through the gate into the yard of the bulk station. I grabbed the man who was still screaming and staggering around. He said, “I can’t see. I can’t see. I have gasoline in my eyes.” I had him lay down on the ground and when Ron showed up, we poured the cold water in his eyes. While Ron was slowly pouring water in his eyes, I ran to the pay phone outside the gas station and called the police. Within a few minutes the parade of flashing emergency lights had reached our location.
The man was quickly taken to the ambulance where his eyes were treated and wrapped. The volunteer fire department was outside the closed gates of the bulk station. I walked over to open the gates and the fire chief stopped me. “Young man do not touch the gate. There are gas and gas fumes everywhere. We do not want to set it off with a spark.” “What do you want me to do?” I asked. He replied, “just go over and carefully close the valves on the truck and at the end of the hose leading to the tank.” At this point I began to be a little bit concerned.
Can you imagine going out to do your work one day and ending up blinded and needing someone to guide you? Well, that is what happened to Saul of Tarsus. He was on his way to Damascus from Jerusalem (corporate headquarters for persecution of the Jewish sect claiming the Resurrection of Christ). Saul “went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2).
Later he told the Jews, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished” (Acts 22:4-5). While on the road to Damascus, Jesus appeared to Saul. He fell to the ground and asked what he must do? The Lord told him, “Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do” (Acts 22:10). Someone had to lead him to Damascus where he stayed three days blinded and fasting. God sent a preacher named Ananais to Saul. After Saul received his sight Ananais commanded him to “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
Saul did not see the need for salvation from Christ. Before he was saved, he was blinded. Saul saw his soul’s deepest needs when he was in need of physical sight. Being blinded makes one immediately dependent upon others for help. Spiritual blindness should have the same result. Often men are blind to the reality they are without sight and are wandering around in pain and in the darkness of sin. Saul (now known as Paul the Apostle) spoke about those who suffer from this type of blindness. “Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Cor. 4:4) and “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). Such blind sinners need someone to lead them to where they will be able to see the light and receive their sight.
Jesus often healed the blind. He had compassion on them. At Jericho “two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So, Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So, Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him” (Matthew 20:30-34). The compassion of Jesus is not limited to those with physical blindness but those who are unable to see clearly because they are spiritual blinded.
Christians today need to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus for those who suffer from spiritual blindness. Paul warns Christians about their former blind state before they learned Christ. “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness (Eph. 4:17-19).
Before we attempt to help the blind, we need to be able to see and know where we are leading them. Jesus warned of the Pharisees, “they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matt. 15:14). This is nothing new. Isaiah rebuked the irresponsible leaders of the Judah as blind and mute watchdogs. “His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough” (Is. 56:10-11a). These would make for some very poor eye-seeing dogs guiding the blind.
Russ received good news about the blinded truck driver. When the bandages came off after a couple of days his sight was restored. Sohio Corporate commended Ron and I for acting fast and helping out one of their truck drivers. We were happy to do so. However, I would have loved for this man to have received the blessings of Christ’s light shining down on him as well.
– Daniel R. Vess