Why did people follow Jesus? The disciples did because he called them, but others? We have an example in Matthew 20, “there were two blind men sitting by the roadside” (verse 30) who cried out when they were told Jesus was passing by, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David”. To call him ‘Son of David’ meant they acknowledged him as the Messiah.
“Jesus called them and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’” With what sense of anticipation would they have replied, “Let our eyes be opened” (verse 33).
Jesus “in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight”. And what did they do then? They “followed him” (verse 34). This was in contrast to others; nine of the ten lepers he healed did not even return to express their gratitude (Luke 17:15-18) and when the people came to see the madman whom Jesus healed “clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid … and they began to beg Jesus to depart from their region” (Mark 5:15,16). The loss of the pigs dominated their thinking, it seems.
Our world is full of those who are spiritually blind. Just a few are like the Ephesians who, Paul said, have had “the eyes of your hearts enlightened that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance” (1:18). But few have such eyes. Peter noted in his second letter those who “have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed” (2 Peter 2:14).
In Matthew 19 we read the answer of Jesus to the “man who came up to him, saying ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’” (verse 17). But it is not achieved by a ‘one off’ good deeds! This man was wealthy, and he needed to get rid of that in which he trusted, so Jesus told him, “… go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (verse 21).
That was not the answer he was looking for so “he went away sorrowful”. What answer are we looking for? Hopefully we have found that answer and are among those who “followed him” making our lives count in some meaningful ways, according to our abilities. A last thought from Peter, “whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). Let us be enslaved to Christ.