In this story, Jesus was continuing to give His faithful witness of the Gospel in the region Galilee in spite of the hard-heartedness of the people. Where was the repentance that should have marked the children of God when their Savior came? The hostility of the Jewish leadership against the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ pressed their hearts into new levels of hardness and rebellion. It provoked God’s judgment and sealed their eternal fate. Now the proclamation of the Gospel would not be given to the nation. It would be given in the quiet places, to individuals, cloaked in parables. The miracles would be done in private for those who showed true faith against the powerful voices of the religious leaders.
As Jesus left the tender healing of the ruler’s daughter and headed to Peter’s house where He was staying, two blind men began to follow him from behind. They cried out, “‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’”
When they called Jesus the Son of David they were declaring that they believed Jesus was the Man who fulfilled God’s divine promise to King David. They believed He was the Anointed One of Isaiah, the mighty warrior who would restore the nation of Israel to her golden years when King David reigned in power! These men did not understand that their Messiah had not come to bring a war. They didn’t understand the remarkable, heartbreaking way Jesus would bring in the New Covenant. But they did believe He was sent by God.
The Lord went into Peter’s home and the blind men followed Him right in. Jesus had a lot of choices at that moment. He could have been annoyed. He could have said He was tired. He could have asked them to show some manners. He could have kicked them out or treated them as unworthy, just as the rest of their society likely did.
Instead, Jesus said, “‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’” Interesting. He asked if they believed He was able. They both said, “‘Yes, Lord.’” So He touched their eyes and said, “‘According to your faith it will be done to you.’” Again, interesting. He empowered their healing according to the degree of their faith in a sort of two way interaction between His abundant capacity and their belief.
Right then and there, the sight of both men was given back to them. Imagine their awe as they stood in Peter’s house and looked around. Imagine how that moment had changed their lives! They had probably gone through great personal anguish grieving the fact that they would never see again. How would you feel if it happened to you? No more sunsets, no more independence, no more gazing on the face of your beloved. The whole visual world was restored to them in an instant. It is hard to imagine a greater gift apart from salvation. Before they left, Jesus warned them, “‘See that no one knows about this.’”
Why in the world not?
Well, the Jewish world was already hostile against Him. The leaders had already offended the Spirit of the Living God. Their had hardened their hearts over and over again against the amazing teachings and miracles of Christ. When they used their power to accuse Christ of being from Satan instead of acknowledging Him to the nation as the Messiah, they turned a corner. God confirmed the hardness of their hearts with judgment. The miracles would not serve to soften their hearts…it would only harden them. The Lord Jesus would not give them one more way to sin against His Father. As Christ’s compassion continued to compel Him to set the broken of Israel free from their bondage, it was no longer a part of the proclamation of the coming Messiah.
You would think that these men would be so grateful that they would do whatever Jesus asked. You would think that they would obey the one they had called “Lord.” But they didn’t. After they left, they went all around the region of Galilee telling everyone what Jesus had done for them. Whatever tiny amount of faith it required for them to access Christ’s healing power, it wasn’t significant enough to draw their loyal obedience. What a merciful Lord.
Even as these men were leaving the house, another man was brought to Jesus. This man was under the oppressive power of a demon. He wasn’t able to speak at all. Jesus drove out the demon, and the man was able to talk. The crowds that were always surrounding Jesus were amazed. “‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.’” But the Pharisees were saying, “‘It is by the prince of demons that He drives out demons.’”
It is breathtaking how these religious leaders continued to blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit! Let’s review the big picture here for a minute. If it seems like we are doing that a lot in these stories, know that it is not an accident. It helps us be mindful of the ongoing context that Christ was constantly bearing. That is important for the way we read the situation. It will also help us grasp anew the magnitude of the terrible and devastating error these religious rulers were making.
Everywhere Jesus went, He displayed magnificent power to undo the horrible effects of the curse. This curse had come on humanity at its very earliest age. The sin of Adam and Eve, the parents of every human, rebelled against God, and so they invited sin and death into the world and into the lives of all their descendants. For thousands of years the human race proved how wicked the heart of man is by their constant decisions to sin against the Most High God.
To look at human history, it would seem that all was lost. The most vicious rulers paved their road to victory on the backs of the weak. The glorious peace and perfection of the Garden was no more than a sweet fantasy in the memory of the human race as they toiled under the sun to grow enough food to eat. It was all they could do to survive the storms and drought and famine that the curse brought into the world. Sin distorted the depths of the heart of humanity as well. The wonder of marriage between one man and one woman was constantly violated through the sin of men and their perverse, distorted rejection of God’s intention for true love. Nation warred against nation and neighbor warred against neighbor in a never-ending cycle of selfishness. Sin was a weight that pulled humanity into filth and shame that Adam and Eve could never have imagined when they sought the knowledge of good and evil from that tree.
The Most High God was not going to leave His creation to the dark tragedy that Satan was working so hard to mastermind. He chose a nation to exhibit the right way to live for the whole world to see. He chose the descendants of Abraham to be His holy and treasured people. They would not destroy sin and death through their law, but they would show how to pursue the Most High God in a world tainted by sin and death.
From the midst of His holy nation, God sent His own Son into the world to be the Savior. He would walk the earth and live a perfect life, absolutely free from sin. He would live His life as the human race was meant to live in the Garden, in perfect communion with God and in total obedience to Him. Through Him, the goodness of God would flow, and the terrible pain and suffering that the curse brought would be turned back into health and wholeness.
This was the Old Testament promise of the Messiah. This is what the Jews should have seen when they watched the miracles of Jesus. Everywhere the Lord went, glorious miracles happened and captives were set free from the power of demonic forces. The lame could walk, shriveled hands stretched out to perfection, the dead were raised, and long-time diseases fled weary bodies. As Jesus journeyed through Galilee month after month, the people had time to think about these wondrous things that were happening among them. They could have search the Word and seen how Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophets. They could have bowed at His feet in reverent awe, just as Peter had in the boat when he saw his first miracle. They could repented of their prior sin and false ways of leading the people. They could have seen the work of Christ and announced to all the world, “THIS IS THE ONE! Come to Him!” like the woman at the well or the man who was set free from a Legion of demons. Except when they did it, the religious leaders would have done it on behalf of a nation…of the nation that God had set apart for the task. This was the amazing, epic, glorious role that the Lord had given these religious leaders. When they failed it was a failure on epic, historical and spiritual proportions.
Many did not fail. We know the story of quiet Nicodemus as He snuck to meet with Jesus in the dead of night. The Spirit of the Lord was working among the quietly faithful. But the established position by those who wielded power was set. Their proclamation was that Jesus was operating out of the power of Satan, and they would use their power from the Temple and the synagogues to turn God’s people away from Him with all their might.
As the households and villages and cities of regular Jewish families discussed this Jesus and all the amazing stories that came flowing out of Galilee, they were beginning to form their opinions about Him. It was becoming more and more established that they were going to have to either side with the national religious leadership or side with Christ. The middle ground was shrinking. And God the Father, who searches every heart, understood the exact measure of faith in the people He called His own. As He offered His magnificent grace and compassion through His Son, the Lord God was offering them the finest gift He could bestow. The people of Israel would have to decide which way to go. Would they follow their leadership at the Temple in Jerusalem and the synagogues in their rejection of the Messiah? Or would they allow the Spirit of God to speak and reveal the greatness of Jesus Christ? What would you decide?