Matthew9v27to34: JESUS HEALS the BLIND AND MUTE

Introduction. Read Matthew9v18to26.

I will deal separately with the main players that feature in this short passage unique to Matthew: the two blind men, the mute and the Pharisees.

(A) The two blind men.

The account of Jesus restoring sight to the blind men is of relevance today because although he does not heal many of physical blindness Jesus does give sight to the spiritually blind of whom there are millions.

The incident, dealt with so concisely by Matthew, prompts us to explore three themes:

(1) A wretched condition.

The state of the blind from birth helps us to understand the wretchedness of the spiritually blind. Those born blind:

  • Cannot really understand what colour is. There are many things the spiritually blind fail to comprehend: For example, the significance of Christ's incarnation, his saving death and glorious, bodily resurrection.

  • Do not appreciate the beauty of the earth - a glorious sunset, a magnificent rainbow, a spectacular cliff coast or the delicate markings of a common wild flower.

    Spiritually blind people miss the beauty of God's amazing grace. I have heard several renderings of, 'Silent Night', on the Irish Country Music program that I watch. But, you can tell that most of the singers are unaware of the greatness of God's gift. Their performance is very different from that of an elderly black woman I watched several years ago who sang the carol with the tears streaming down her cheeks.

  • Cannot fulfil their potential. A baby might be born with huge potential to be a great cricketer but for the fact that he is born blind. It is impossible to be blind and an outstanding painter, architect, landscape gardener and the like.

    If we are spiritually blind then most certainly we will never realise our potential. We will never become sons of God, receive Christ's gift of his Spirit or serve Jesus in a way that brings glory to him.

  • Find it difficult to communicate. I find it much harder to communicate with people when I am not talking to them face to face. The face conveys much valuable information. A smile, a frown, sparkling eyes, a tear are all signals.

    Modern methods of communication leave a lot to be desired. Email, the telephone, texting - all lack something. That is why I do not believe the burka should be worn by teachers or pupils in school. My pupils invariably responded positively to my smile.

    The spiritually blind find it very difficult to talk with God. They find it virtually impossible to pray privately or publicly.

(2) The way to spiritual enlightenment.

The 2 blind men illustrate the way to spiritual enlightenment:

  • They heard about Jesus. The two blind men did not see any of the miracles Jesus performed. They had to rely on the testimony of others. This is a reminder of the importance of the spoken testimony. To quote the great apostle Paul: And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? Rom10v14.

  • They followed Jesus. The blind men followed the Master along the road and into the house where he was staying. It wasn't easy with a crowd of people milling around Jesus. Matthew does not record that the men were invited into the house. It does not appear as if Jesus gave them any encouragement at all. Why was this? Jesus healed a paralytic on the basis of his friend's faith. He raised Jairus' daughter after a simple request to do so. A sick woman just touched the hem of his garment and was made whole. Yet these two blind men are made to wait.

    There is always a reason for the actions of Jesus. It is possible the blind men were not asking aright. It is easy to construe their cry as something of a challenge, perhaps even a rather belligerent challenge: "Have mercy on us, Son of David." 9v27. Maybe there was a hint of, "IF you are the son of David - have mercy on us." So, they were made to wait.

    Still, it must be said, the two blind men put themselves in the way of receiving their sight.

    Today, some who attend church have the same challenging attitude to Jesus as the blind men. Jesus must prove himself before they believe. This confrontational approach must be abandoned and men and women need to put themselves in the way of receiving spiritual enlightenment. There are a variety of ways this can be done: attending church and particularly special courses put on to explain the Christian Faith like the Alpha Course, chatting to Christian friends about Jesus and reading books or articles about Christianity. I found, 'Mere Christianity', by C.S. Lewis a great help when I was a young man.

    It may take perseverance to receive spiritual enlightenment. But, be in earnest and show willing and eventually the scales will drop from your eyes.

  • They recognised Jesus' authority. At the very least the blind men were open to the possibility that Jesus was the Son of David and consequently the Messiah. As such, Jesus would be equipped with special healing powers by which God validated his unique status. The blind men respected Jesus for his accomplishments. He had healed others and so he could heal them.

    The likelihood is that those who recognise Jesus' power to change lives will themselves have their lives changed. This is why certain environments are more conducive to spiritual enlightenment than others. Conversions do occur at Christian camps for young people, great evangelical rallies, events organised by thriving university Christian Unions and well attended Alpha Courses.

    It is why very little seems to happen in small, declining churches attended by an elderly congregation. Some small churches make a great effort to reach the lost. I circulate my village with a challenging newssheet three times a year and always proclaim Christ as Saviour at all the well attended funerals I conduct. There has been some fruit - but not much - as is also the case with this website.

  • They pleaded for mercy. The blind men cried out, "Have mercy on us you Son of David." They couldn't pay; they had nothing to offer and were wholly dependent on the good will of another. So they sued for mercy in the hope that Jesus would be moved with compassion to help. This is a very humbling approach.

    It is always humbling to ask for help. When new parking meters were installed in Bury St Edmunds it was not immediately apparent how they worked. You felt such a fool when you needed to be helped out. It is the same with mobile phones! My friend Tom, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, flew to Japan recently. The airline arranged wheel chair service. I would rather stay at home than be pushed about in a wheelchair.

    There are many men in particular who hate asking Jesus to save them. They hate the thought of it. They have paid their way in life and if they cannot pay their way to heaven they will forfeit their eternal well being. Nothing will induce them to humble themselves and say, "God be merciful to me, a sinner."

  • They believed in Jesus. People who believe in us get the best out of us. I taught some groups A level Geography who undoubtedly believed in my ability to teach the subject. This stimulated me to teach to the very best of my ability.

    It is like that too if you are a preacher. Many churches, including my own, have reservations about my preaching. I cannot understand it! But it does reduce my effectiveness. However, there is one small fellowship that does believe in my ability to expound the Scriptures. To them - I give of my best.

    Jesus asked the two blind men, after they had calmed down a bit, if they really believed in his ability to heal them. They replied very simply, without razzmatazz, "Yes, Lord." Jesus then assured them, ""Be it unto you according to your faith."

    If we truly believe in Jesus he will heal us of spiritual blindness. Jesus will impart his Spirit who gives new life: a new motivation, a new understanding and a new family. Jesus' words to the blind men will also apply to us as Christians: ""Be it unto you according to your faith." The more faith we have the more blessing we receive and the more blessing we will bestow. See exposition on Hebrews11v32to40.

(3) A blind spot. The two blind men were miraculously healed and received their sight. They then proceeded to tell everyone about it. What was so wrong about that? Surely that was a good thing. Today people are inclined to keep quiet about their faith and are but poor witnesses.

Well, it wasn't a good thing because Jesus told them sternly "See, let no one know of this." We cannot be sure why Jesus gave this instruction to the two men. It is significant that he told them sternly. It seems likely that they were exuberant characters. Perhaps there was the possibility that the two men would be a bit vainglorious in telling their story. Jesus healed US - with the emphasis on US.

Some Christian testimonies are more about the testifier than the Saviour. The convert speaks at great length about their old unregenerate life and the journey that led to faith. It's all about them; what they have become. Jesus may get a brief mention at the end.

Another reason Jesus didn't want his healing exploits publicised may be because this wasn't his main ministry. The press of the sick hampered his ability to teach.

Have new converts to Christianity any blind spots? Quite a number in Baptist churches decide not to be baptised and join the local church. This is not a good start to the Christian life. Jesus is being disobeyed. He made it abundantly clear that baptism follows belief.

(B) The mute.

(1) Demons that need being cast out. There are many mute Christians - believers who do not speak out for Jesus. They are reluctant to share their experience of Jesus.

When I was a school teacher I used to ask lots of questions. Only a minority in a class would volunteer an answer. Why the reticence? There are several reasons and they provide a clue to the demons that possess the mute Christian - demons that need casting out.

  • Demon fear. Some pupils were very reluctant to respond to my questions for fear of getting the answer wrong and making a fool of themselves.

    Christians don't pray or otherwise witness publicly for fear of making a mess of it. We need to remember that if we are really poor in spirit this is not something that will concern us.

  • Demon self-consciousness. There were always pupils who didn't want to draw attention to themselves. They were shy, lacking in confidence and hated to be the centre of attention.

    Many Christians are reluctant to talk about Jesus because they find it embarrassing. This inhibits some from giving their testimony and being baptised.

  • Demon pride. There were always pupils who kept quiet in class because their pride wouldn't let them risk making a mistake and being shown up as an ignoramus.

    Some Christians feel the same way about praying in public. Other people are so much better at it than they are. They don't want to show themselves up and be compared unfavourably with someone of greater eloquence.

  • Demon idleness. A lot of school children cannot be bothered to answer questions. It is easier to day dream than concentrate and think. It requires too much effort to raise an arm!

    Lots of Christians opt out of public prayer because that is the easiest thing to do. Some might accuse me of being unfair but everyone is capable of writing a few lines and reading them out. Indeed, short, heartfelt prayers are often the best.

  • Demon wilfulness. Some of my pupils were just stubborn. They were not under any circumstances going to volunteer an answer. They said to themselves, "He can't make me answer a question if I don't want to."

    Sadly, Christians under the influence of demon wilfulness are equally obstinate. They may even be resentful and say to themselves, "You can be a good Christian without always speaking about it. Anyway, actions speak louder than words."

Perhaps, we need to hear what Jesus has to say: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Mt10v32. Paul wrote to the Romans: If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Rom10v9and10.

(2) The mute was helped by others. He was brought to Jesus.

A teacher can encourage their pupils to speak up in class in the following ways:

  • Adopting a non-threatening, encouraging manner. Children can find a hectoring, aggressive style off putting. (That was the style I used!)

  • Choose children to answer questions at random. Their names can be put into a hat and pulled out at random.

  • Making the procedure more purposeful. Turn a question and answer session into a contest. Make it into a kind of game.

An able Christian leader can encourage others to participate in prayer, testimony and discussion. Many years ago our last pastor, Simon Ladd, did this very successfully for the following reasons:

  • He was a personable young man others wished to please.

  • He expected everyone to participate.

  • He reacted positively to people's contributions.

  • He created an atmosphere conducive to sharing.

  • He discouraged long public prayers.

(3) The blind man was brought to JESUS. Sometimes a mute Christian needs to be reminded of:

  • What they owe Jesus. If someone saved your life you would tell others about it. Jesus has redeemed the Christian from eternal destruction. Surely we can speak a few words for Christ's sake.

  • The expectations of Jesus. Jesus said: If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." Mk8v38. This is a powerful incentive to speak up for Jesus. We need him to speak up for us!

  • Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to help us be his witnesses. There is no excuse for being mute.

(C) The Pharisees.

The Pharisees could not deny that Jesus performed miracles. So instead they attributed Jesus' powers to Satan: "He casts out demons by the power of the prince of demons." What were the reasons for this disastrous verdict? The Pharisees were:

(1) Ultra conservative - too set in their ways to change. Jesus acknowledged this weakness on another occasion when he said: "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. Mt9v17. See Luke5v33to39.

Sadly there are denominations that are highly conservative. The Roman Catholic Church resists change as do many Reformed churches. It is a weakness of some very traditional free churches. My own church is no exception. I can recall a lady setting out the chairs in a circle for our prayer and fellowship meeting. Someone else, I don't know who to this day, arrived very earlier to make absolutely sure the chairs were back in their traditional rows!

(2) Too prejudiced to arrive at an impartial assessment of Jesus who had not been educated in their schools. Jesus had not sat at the feet of a learned Rabbi and studied the many and varied interpretations of the Law.

What a lot of prejudice there is today. No one can preach in Roman Catholic church except a priest. Even the Church of England insists on proper training for those who conduct a service. All this in spite of the fact that the only training Jesus had was in carpentry. All this in spite of the New Testament pattern where anyone with the gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit could preach to the faithful.

But there are many kinds of prejudice. I am not welcome to speak in the churches of my own denomination because I have reservations about Calvinistic doctrine. I faithfully expound Scripture, as is evident from my website, but because I reject unconditional election and arbitry grace I have been labelled, 'unsound'.

(3) Envious of Jesus' power and growing reputation. Jesus was the coming man! The religious leaders were jealous of his popular appeal.

Wherever Christianity wins converts from another religion there is trouble. Muslims are envious of the abiding attractiveness of Jesus - the Saviour of the World. This gives rise to murderous hatred and appalling persecution.

Even within Christianity envy can distort a person's judgment. A pastor of a small and struggling church can be bitter at the success of a pastor in a big and growing church. It is not easy to rejoice with those that rejoice - especially if you don't have much to boast about.

On the smallest scale - within the local church - envy and resentment can do much damage. Many Baptist churches elect their own elders and deacons. This inevitably results in some worthy candidates being passed over. I know what it feels like! It takes grace to accept rebuffs of this nature. I am afraid that when Christians vote to appoint elders or deacons they often have the plank of bias in their eye. They don't vote for who is best qualified for the office but for whom they LIKE!!