Matthew 20:29-34 - As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
31 “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them.
But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
32 When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”
33 “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.
Story Setting & Culture
- This story takes place in roughly 33 AD in Israel about 15 miles from Jerusalem
- Rome rules over the region and is the most powerful empire in the world.
- Jesus is leaving Jericho, along with many other people, and heading to Jerusalem for the celebration of the Passover Festival.
- This will be Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem before his brutal death at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders and Pontius Pilot the Governor of Judea.
- Jesus has been teaching his disciples about the Kingdom of God and the disciples have been struggling to understand the way to live it out. Most recently the disciples have been fighting about who and how to be the greatest in Jesus’ Kingdom.
- To better understand Passover we need to go to an earlier part of God’s story. Over 1,000 years before God called a people, Israel (Jews) out of slavery and oppression in Egypt. A leader named Moses was the instrument of God’s power and love as he obediently brought the Israelites through very difficult circumstances.
- Specifically Passover refers to a time when God’s 10th and final plague on Egypt was about to take the life of every firstborn child and animal as God passed through the land. Exodus 11
- However, God made a way for his people, the Israelites, to be spared from this terrible plague. Each household was to take a lamb, slaughter it, and to smear the blood over and on the sides of the doorway. Exodus 12:1-13
- The Passover Festival/Celebration is a specific command from God so that the Israelites would never forget how God delivered them out of slavery by His strength alone. Exodus 12:14-28
- God honors his promise. The Egyptians lose all their first born children, including Pharaoh’s son, but God passes over the Israelites. Exodus 12:29-32
- The Passover story in Exodus certainly points to Jesus as a foreshadowing of His mission as the Passover Lamb.
Kingdom of God
- To provide an incomplete definition the Kingdom of God is the saving and redemptive rule of God through Jesus Christ on earth. God’s Kingdom is not a land, earthly government system, or military rule. God’s Kingdom is everywhere and advancing through the people of God (The Church). There is a way to live under the reign of King Jesus according to his life and teachings. The Kingdom has already come in and through Jesus, but it is not at its complete reign in the world until the return of Christ.
- For more understanding on the Kingdom of God and living in the Kingdom of God read Matthew 5-7, 11, 13, 18-21
Matthew’s Story of Jesus Healing Two Blind Men
- A great crowd was following Jesus for at least two reasons:
- First many people would have been traveling the main road from Jericho to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration.
- Secondly, Jesus was nothing short of a celebrity as his miraculous works had gathered thousands of people to seek him for healing, to watch and see if something amazing would happen and to listen to his teachings.
- We can imagine the noise of the crowd and people pushing in on Jesus as they surrounded him as he left the city of Jericho.
- The physically handicapped and vision or hearing impaired often sat on roadsides to beg for money as they were at the mercy of passers by.
- The blind men could hear, but could not see. Some scholars believe Matthew includes this story because it is a picture of the disciples, Matthew included, spiritual condition at this point in the narrative. The disciples heard all of Jesus’ teachings, but didn’t yet see who he was as the Messiah and fulfillment of the Old Testament.
- When these two blind men hear that Jesus is coming they cry out with loud voices, “Son of David have mercy on us!”
- Son of David is a Messianic title used for Jesus, which means that these men were calling him the Messiah since King David was Jesus’ ancestor. For more on Messianic Prophecy read 2 Samuel 7, Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 & 118.
- It is interesting that the men who cannot see apparently see (spiritually) more than those with literal sight (12 disciples).
- What is the condition of our own eyes? Are we blind or can we see the truth of who Jesus really is?
- The crowd tells these two men to keep quiet… obviously Jesus has more important things to do than deal with two begging blind men. After all he is on his way to the Passover Festival and has a crowd to attend to.
- Notice the Bible gives a voice to the oppressed and marginalized of society. Through the entirety of the Scriptures these people have a voice, and their voice is heard by the attentive and ever listening ears of God.
- Do we, like the crowd, turn a blind eye, even though we can see, to the oppressed and marginalized in our community? In our work place? In our family? In our world?
- Who are the oppressed and marginalized? Is it only people who are physically poor, mentally or physically handicapped, or those in literal bonds or slavery? Or do we see oppression in terms of spiritual bondage to sin as well?
- Despite the jeers and attempt to silence these two blind men they cry all the louder! The oppressed and marginalized will not stop crying out until they are heard, seen and given the freedom they long for. We can choose to be like the crowd or to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
- Yes, social justice is part of the Kingdom Mission as we follow Jesus.
- Jesus stops. Imagine the crowd moving like a school of fish or herd in one direction and then Jesus stops after HEARING the cries of these men.
- Incredible that Jesus would stop considering all he must have had on his heart and mind. He knew this would be his final trip to Jerusalem. He knew he would be betrayed, mocked, whipped, and crucified Matthew 20:17-19 and yet he stops in the middle of the world’s most important mission to live out the very mission he came to accomplish. Matthew 20:26-28
- If we think deeply about what Jesus is communicating in his compassion on these men. Salvation is not merely to get us out of this life and into Heaven, rather salvation through Jesus transforms the life of people here and now. Jesus is giving sight to the blind as a testimony of the Kingdom breaking into earth and the restoring work of God, which he will finish when Jesus returns again, has already begun. The renewal of the world is happening all around us and we don’t want to miss it!
- It seems peculiar that Jesus would ask an open-ended question to a seemingly obvious problem. God is not forceful as he saves people, but gives people a choice to accept the healing power of his redemptive reign. *If you have questions about free will and election please read Romans 9-10 & Genesis 3.
- The two blind men ask for sight. Imagine the first thing these men witnessed with their restored sight is Jesus! Is this what a transformed life is like?
- Notice the response to Jesus’ healing power is they follow him… of course they do! They join Jesus and the crowd on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival… perhaps this is the first festival they will celebrate not as a beggar, but as men who now can fellowship with the community.
- Jesus not only restores the eyesight of these men, but also heals the broken fellowship and ends the isolation by bringing them back into community. Christ is doing this work in the church. He is reversing the Garden tragedy where Adam and Eve’s sin caused separation between God and man and created enmity toward each other in human relationship.
Jesus Fulfills Prophecy
- Certainly Jesus healing these two blind men, along with all the other miracles he has performed, is a touching story of power and compassion. However, it is so much more!
- Matthew 11:2-6 is an interesting encounter between Jesus and disciples of John the Baptist. John wants to know if Jesus is the Messiah? Jesus’ response is not a bragging about his miracles, but a reference to Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah 35 & 42
- Jesus is clearly pointing to himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament; Jesus is King (Messiah).
- When Jesus opens the eyes of these two blind men there is a sincere invitation of “Come and see.” This is reminiscent of Jesus’ call of the 12 disciples. It is important for Jesus’ invitation to be sincere because it leaves room for a rejection of the invitation.
- The world powers assert their authority over subjects, but it is different in Jesus and among his people Matthew 20:25-29. How can we invite others to come and see without having an agenda?
- The thought occurred to me what these men saw when they followed Jesus. One week after receiving their sight they most likely saw Jesus killed on the cross. What a sad day for these two men to witness the healing agent of their sight, their Messiah, murdered by the very people who cried out against these blind men.
- The way of Jesus is to lose your life. The way of Jesus is not only to help the poor, oppressed and marginalized, but it is to enter into the suffering by becoming one of these people. Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many… Will you, Church, give your life? Matthew 16:24-25