There’s the story about the three brothers who became very successful businessmen, and, wanting to do something grand for their 95-year-old grandmother, purchased her extravagant gifts.
The first bought her a huge multi-story house. The second bought her a brand new Mercedes. The third, knowing how much his grandmother loved reading the Bible and knowing she could no longer do so because of her poor vision, bought her a very expensive parrot that had been trained by monks over two decades to recite every single verse in the Old and New Testaments.
Then came grandmother’s thank you notes.
To the first she said: “The house you bought me is way too big, and I can’t even get up and down the stairs to the second and third floors.”
To the second she said: “I don’t see well enough to drive, so I don’t have much need for that fancy new car.”
To the third, she said: “Thank you so much for being such a wonderful son. The chicken was delicious.”
Poor eyesight has been a problem for lots of people over the years, including the Old Testament patriarch Isaac. You might remember that Isaac, when he was an old man, was tricked into blessing Jacob because he couldn’t see well enough to tell him from his brother.
I got my first pair of bifocals a couple of years back to help me read small print. Before I got them, I’d try to get the words I was reading just the right distance away from my eyes so that I could make them out. Then came the time when no such adjustments worked. That’s when I landed at the eye doctor’s office for my glasses.
But instead of physical sight that can be corrected with glasses, I want us to consider the difficulty some people have with their spiritual vision. Back when Jesus was in the midst of his earthly ministry, some religious leaders, known at the time as Pharisees, were calling for Him to show them a sign to prove that He was the son of God. I really loved Jesus’ response.
“Do you have eyes and not see, and do you have ears and not hear?” (Mark 8:18).
Jesus was doing miracles daily. He was healing the sick, the lame, the deaf. He was raising the dead. And, yes, he was restoring sight to the blind. What more did the Pharisees need to see.
The fact is, these troublesome Pharisees were spiritually blind. They couldn’t recognize Jesus as the son of God. And there are lots of people in the world today who, like the Pharisees of old, are spiritually blind.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah didn’t mince words when he talked about such people. He said they are foolish and senseless.
“They have eyes but they don’t see. They have ears but they don’t hear” (Jeremiah 5:21). “These people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned aside and have gone away” (Jeremiah 5:23).
We laugh at the elderly lady who ate the very expensive parrot thinking it was a chicken. But it’s not funny that some people are spiritually blind to the point of swallowing the wrong-headed ideas this world is churning out these days.
Roger Alford is a Southern Baptist writer and speaker. Reach him at [email protected]