Life is so busy, our focus so fleeting. Could it be that someone needs to turn to Jesus all over again? Is today such a day for you?
Consider now our story:
As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, 'Have mercy on us, Son of David!' When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to Him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then He touched their eyes, saying, 'It shall be done to you according to your faith.' And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them: 'See that no one knows about this!' But they went out and spread the news about Him throughout all that land (Matthew 9:27-31).
Today we pause to look at a short segment as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus has just raised a person from the dead. There are two blind men. They didn't see that but they heard those who saw it happen speaking of it with each other.
This was a big deal. They could have been skeptical. They could have assumed this was a wild story. They did not. They followed right along with the crowd and made a determined effort to come into Jesus' presence.
If this was true--if Jesus could raise the dead--then He could certainly grant sight to the blind. No, no one had ever done that before. But these people were willing to risk their pride. If this was a hoax and everyone would laugh at them, they were willing to risk that.
Although these men were blind, they were not unable to weigh potential outcomes. How conscious this was we do not know. What we do know is that they determined the potential loss of face if this was a hoax to be worth risking because they weighed that against the potential gain: the recovery of their sight!
Here they come then. Their plea? "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"
This is no random saying. Open to Psalm 123. Let's look at that together. We'll read from the New King James version:
Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorn of those who are at ease, with the contempt of the proud.
They had heard this Psalm repeated many times. It isn't very contemporary for you and I, is it? It's humble. It acknowledges humans as needy and God as the source of good. It asks God to help when humans treat other humans with contempt. The prayer is the prayer of one who is trusting, pleading, acknolwedging need, acknowledging God's power to help. In fact, the whose Psalm is about acknowledgment. We have need. God has help.
That is important background for this New Testament event. The plea, "Have mercy on us" is acknowledgement that Jesus is on God's side, He is working with God's team.
Are we willing to acknowledge how great is our need? Are we sometimes a bit too proud to call upon God? Determined to handle things on our own, not to "trouble" the Master? Before you answer No, that doesn't describe me, look again at the saying. We tend to start by looking to ourselves; the Psalmist begins by lifting up his eyes to God. We are more likely see ourselves as masters of our own destiny rather than servants. But our Psalm writer approaches from the standpoint of the servant.
Looking to our God as His servant, awaiting His command, watching His eye, attending to His wants rather than our own wants--that is a different standpoint than many of us are used to.
But I like this standpoint; "God, what do you want me to do?" Looking to His commands, His plans for us. And going with that, anticipating His help to ourselves, His deliverance of ourselves, His watchcare so much more steady than our self care. We need to serve Him and wait for His deliverance, seek for His mercy, His favor. When we are in need He is our Helper. Somehow I think we tend to turn to Him only after we've butted heads with a problem and lost. We come to God as last resort rather than first. We are not practiced in beginning by looking to Him. We are so busy, so unthoughtful, we might have to come into a health crisis, or an employment crisis, or a money crisis, before we slow down and regroup and "get" that.
And returning to the scenario here in Matthew nine, that is what we have. We have people who are blind and who have lived for at least some period of time with the condition of blindness. They are awake and aware of something they lack, the abiity to see. They want it.
While they cannot see, they can hear. And they are hearing about Jesus a great Healer in the land. They hear now that He has just raised the dead. If one can raise the dead, surely He is Master enough of other things to solve them too. Curing blindness should be something easily accomplished by one who can cure death! So here they come to Jesus. They follow the sound of the crowds and then they begin to make sound. They begin to call out to Him.
When I was living near Los Angeles I had occasion once or twice to go down to the Jewish neighborhood south of Hollywood. I was looking into some Jewish documents and that was a place where I might acquire them. And as I was walking there, there were a number of times when I would hear one call out to me "alms, alms for the poor." It was an individual doing what we call panhandling. But panhandling is not something new in industrialized cities in the last two hundred years. These were forthright direct requests to be helped by an immediate financial donation. "Alms for the poor, alms for the poor." To need help and call out for it is somehow something too humiliating for us. But these blind, while they felt humiliated, called out just the same, and called out loudly. "Have mercy on us, Son of David!"
The other portion of this plea is also important, the phrase "Son of David." Perhaps its needs less elaboration. The phrase first appears in the book of Ruth when a son is born to Naomi who will be ancestor to David the King. "Son of David" stands for all the royal descendents of David. But of course David himself is figure of the ultimate King, Jesus, Messiah, who would sit on David's throne and rule forever.
For these blind to call Jesus the "son of David" was to acknowledge Him royalty, to admit and even claim Him as King. And don't forget that the viewpoint widely held was that if you had a misfortune it was a puniushment from God. If you were blind it was because you deserved to be blind. The blind are cursed. The diseased are cursed. If you were lame, or blind, or had a defective limb, or a disfigurement, you were definitely a few notches down the social ladder. So we can be sure that the pharisees sneered when these blind came along shouting "Have mercy on us, Son of David."
But their acknowledgment of Jesus as King was an acknowledgment of Him as Helper too. The King was to help and protect His people. Their argument was direct and it was right: We are in need, You are our King. You can help us. Please help us.
When Jesus enters a house, they are able to catch up with Him and they work their way through the crowd to Him and offer their plea. Jesus' response is succinct. "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"
This question is the largest question. Do we believe? We claim that we acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior. It is the same as saying we see Him as the Son of David. We acknowledge Him as Master of all. Those are our words. Fine. But the question is always beyond words, beyond claims, beyond our formulaic statement, the things we say almost without thinking them, the thoughts we think undeeply. This question--do I believe that Jesus is able to help me in this particular, distinct need--this is a faith question.
The good news is that it is true. He loves us, He cares for us, He is ready to help us, He has given Himself for us, He has come for us, and consequently, do we believe that He is able to help us? The good news is given. Jesus is for you. But is the good news received? Do you believe Jesus is able to help you?
They said, Yews Lord. Jesus reached forth His hand and touched their eyes. God is ready to touch us where our need is. But He not only touched their eyes. He at the same time said, "It shall be done to you according to your faith." We hear rather repetitively that Jesus does it all. It is true here that even God gives us the faith we have. But the exercise of this faith is ours, not His. He gives us the gift (look, again He is the source!) but He asks us to exewrcise the gift. The blind men sought Him out they came to Jesus. They made request. They exercised faith. This is the setting in which Jesus' healing power was effective in them.
We need to embrace the measure of faith He gives us and let Him grow it in us. He wants to grow it in us. He has what we need. He gives to us what we need. Then it boils down to us stubbornly backsliding into trust of self, or advancing with the angels trusting in Jesus.
The Bible tells us what happened next. "And their eyes were opened." This is the reuslt of faith in Jesus. He opens our eyes. We are all blind in varying degrees. We see but through a glass darkly We see the edges of reality but we don't grasp the whole spiritual reality. God works behind the curtain, but He is laboring to bring us to the place where it is safe for us and for Him to step out from behind the curtain in His brightness. He wants the blind to see. He wants to open our eyes.
What an irony. Even the blind are capable of seeking Jesus. And isn't it too often true that we, the sighted, do not see?
If there are any blind here today, may God open their eyes to see the character of their King.
There is another whole aspect to this we won't delve into, how Jesus warned them not to tell others about this work of healing for them and how they did anyway. It was relatively early in Jesus' very limited period of direct ministry, and too much talk about these healing signs Jesus did would bring out the loaves-and-fishes type, people who may not be insincere but who are motivated materially rather than spiritually. Jesus' kingdom is not of this world.
So what do we have in all this today?
Jesus is the Son of David. We may come to Him all needy as we are. We may seek Him for help and healing. We also are blind. But our blindness only highlights our need. And while we do not see with clarity, or hear with clarity, if we are willing to humble ourselves as the blind in our story, if we are willing to risk humiliation, it will be done to us according to our faith in Jesus. We will be exalted by His help and healing rather than be humiliated. Jesus is not only willingbut He wants to reach out and touch our eyes. He wants us to see. He wants us to understand. He wants us to exercise the faith He has given us. Friends, this is His whole project, to show us who He is, a kind and gentle and loving Savior who deals justly and mercifully with the accusations against God's government and who is willing to die on the cross a sacrifice for even one wayward soul who will receive His gift of repentnace and turn to Him.
Life is so busy, our focus so fleeting. Could it be that anyone needs to turn to Him all over again? Is today such a day for you?
Deer Park WA SDA 2017-08-05