Blindness is one of John’s favorite metaphors for the spiritual life. Today, we get this same metaphor in Matthew and the message is a painful one. Jesus predicts His own torture and death, concluding with the promise of His resurrection 3 days later. Without comment from anyone, Matthew moves on to tell us that James and John’s mom (presumably “the Wife of Thunder” if we read Mark 3:17) approaches Jesus asking that her boys be His right and left hand men. This deeply thoughtless breach of etiquette is exaggerated by the passage immediately before it. We can feel the waves of anger coming from the other disciples 2000 years later.
Matthew makes the main statement about this by the final of the three passages, the healing of two men born blind. While James and John want to drink the same cup Jesus drinks (thinking this will lead to power and authority), the two men born blind simply want to see. Jesus grants both requests, but has compassion only on the later two.
So what is your request of Jesus today? Do you seek power and authority, fame and “a seat at the table”, or do you simply want to see Jesus? I think it’s clear which of the two requests is the more pleasing to Jesus.