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THE FAITH OF TWO BLIND MEN

Matthew 20:29-20:34
Key Verse: 20:31

In the previous passage while Jesus and his disciples were going up to Jerusalem for Jesus to be crucified, an ungraceful thing happened. As James and John and their mother came to Jesus and claimed the high positions in the messianic kingdom, all other disciples were upset and the vessel of the twelve was at breach. Jesus bore the discouraging situation and took this opportunity to enlighten them with the life-giving words concerning true greatness. In doing so he had to speak his life statement, which was one sentence, yet so concise and profound: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Today’s passage is a very encouraging and cheerful event in contrast to the prior one. Two blind men came to Jesus and received their sight. Through this event, their shining faith was revealed. This event is recorded in all three synoptic gospels and their faith shines in all generations. May God help us to learn the faith of the two blind men.

First, the faith that gets out of a fatalistic life situation (29-30). Look at verse 29. “As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him.” Jericho was the city which was conquered by the Israelites who followed God’s strategy. Since then it was revealed. Today it is known as the City of Psalms (Dt 34:3). Jesus and his disciples were leaving this beautiful city, yet a large crowd followed him. We don’t know exactly why the large crowd followed him, whereas he was heading toward Jerusalem to die. Certainly, the beauty of Jesus attracted them.

Look at verse 30. “Two blind men were sitting by the roadside…” The two blind men were a different set of people apart from the large crowd. They could not join the crowd, the major stream of the society. They were outsiders because of their specific human condition. So they were sitting by the roadside. They were blind men, and all the people of Jericho knew this. It was their label, a sticker. They did not know what to do with this sticky label. And the people could not see more than the label of their blindness. They remained in that human situation and could not help sorrowing over their fate as blind men. But what did they do on a certain day? Look at verse 30 again. “Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted…” It was a day when Jesus was going by. Jesus was not coming to them, but just passing by. However, when they heard it, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” First of all, they called Jesus, “Lord.” In this passage they spoke to Jesus three times. But at each time, they called Jesus “Lord.” Surely, it was not a meaningless or habitual repetition. This call stemmed from their sincere belief. They believed that Jesus was the one who was in control over everything, not to mention over their own lives and their blindness as well. They did not think that their blind human condition was a fatal one which could not be changed. We don’t know why they lost their sight and how long they had been blind. Yet, the length of the period of their blindness did not matter to them, as they believed that Jesus is the Lord.

To them Jesus was also Son of David, the promised Messiah, the one God promised to send to show his mercy to mankind. Now they knew themselves as miserable blind men. But they also knew that Jesus is the Lord and Son of David. To them, these were all the knowledge they needed to know at that time. So they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” In this way they came out of their fatalistic life situation sitting by the roadside as blind men. To get out of one’s fatalistic life situation is not easy, but faith in Lord Jesus can enable us to do so.

Second, faith that overcomes the obstacles (31-32a). The two blind men’s shouting for Jesus’ mercy was a great attempt for a new life stage. Then what happened next? Did Jesus hear their shout right away as they expected? Or did people around them cheer them up? No. Look at verse 31. “The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet…” They could not hear any word from Jesus. Instead, they heard a rebuking voice from the crowd. In NLT the crowd yelled at him. No doubt, they never expected such a response from the crowd. Why did the crowd rebuke them and tell them to be quiet? Probably, to the eyes of the crowd the blind men were too inferior to do such a thing. They may have thought, “We do not shout but you shout? You are too presumptuous.” They had preconception for the blind, thinking that they were to be inferior creatures to the end of their lives. The crowd tried to subdue them and knock them down with crowd power. Anyway, it was an unexpected huge obstacle to them.

As we all know very well, many times our good intentions and attempts in good faith do not go smoothly.When we try to do good or great or accomplish certain goals, it seems that there are always obstacles and things that discourage us. It seems that there is no blessing or success without obstacles. A proverb says, “…humility comes before honour” (Pro 15:33). Obstacles can humiliate us. And Job 23:10 says, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Obstacles can be God’s test for our gold-like shining faith. In life we should learn how to overcome obstacles if we want to succeed or receive God’s blessing.

Then how did the two blind men react at the obstacle of the crowd’s rebuking? Did they withdraw into themselves and swallow their fate in sorrow, saying, “No, way; we try but people do not help us, even the Lord”? No. Look at verse 31b. “…but they shouted all the louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’” Wow! It is so unexpected, but so good that two things, the crowd’s rebuking and the blind men’s shouting louder, are written in one verse. The two blind men did not give in to the rebuke of the crowd, their yelling. They did not become quiet. Their voice did not die down. They shouted all the louder (all the more in Mark and Luke). The voice of the two was louder than the voice of the crowd. Their shouting subdued the crowd’s rebuke. It was like the walls of Jericho fell at the shout of the Israelites who obeyed God’s command. The spirit of the two blind men was stronger than the spirit of the crowd. What made them shout all the louder when the crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet? It was not out of their strong vocal system or human courage. It was out of their faith in Jesus. They were sure that Jesus is the Lord and the Son of David. And they knew that what they were doing was right before him, pleasing him. So they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The great spirit of the blind came from their faith.

Their spirit was like that of Caleb and Joshua, who made “we can” report, while the ten others, “we cannot” report before their strong enemies of great size, after exploring the land of Canaan. Seeing the same thing their reports were different because their spirits were different. Joshua and Caleb said, “…we can certainly do. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us…we will swallow them up” (Num 13: 30-14:9). And also the spirit of the blind men was like that of David, who as a young boy defeated the giant enemy general Goliath with faith in LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel (1 Sa 17:45). We don’t know how a seed of faith was planted in the blind men that produced such a great spirit. Butit was planted in them when they heard of Jesus. This reminds us of Jesus’ words in Matthew 17:20, “…if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will be move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’” They were blind men, but they were “impossible men” who know no impossibility. They were forceful men as Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”

John Milton (1608-1674), was an English poet. He is best known for his epic poem, Paradise Lost, which is generally considered the greatest epic poem in the English language. He lost his sight the age of 44, 1652. The social situation of at that time was that Oliver Cromwell died and so the Republic commonwealth which Milton supported came to end. Charles II became a king and the king’s reign restored. Personally and socially he faced unexpected big obstacles. It was during this period that he wrote Paradise Lost, the first one published in 1667 and the second edition in 1674. When he lost his sight, people sympathized him saying, “Milton’s life also ended.” But he left famous words, “Losing sight is not a tragic thing, but not being able to overcome it, that’s a tragic thing.” You and I need the two blind men’s spirit that made them shout all the louder. My life long struggle has been to be a blessing in Canada according to God’s promise of Genesis 12:2. Especially I have prayed and struggled to be a servant of God’s word and messenger, through whose message the words of God fall upon his people like morning dew (Dt 32:2). It has been almost 25 years, and I have faced obstacles and discouraging situations time and again. But I still need the spirit of the blind men who shouted all the louder. We need “all the louder” spirit to conquer school study or feed one freshman or to raise one disciple or to do many impossible things in life and mission. May we learn “all the louder” spirit of the blind men.

Then what happened when they shouted all the louder? There was no more rebuke from the crowd. Their shout stopped the rebuke of the crowd and also finally stopped Jesus in his tracks. Verse 32 says. “Jesus stopped and called them…” Jesus was making one step after anther toward Jerusalem according to God’s will and his time schedule. Nothing could stop him. But the blind men’s undying spirit and shout did. Jesus stopped and called them to bless them.

Third, faith that has one clear prayer topic (32b-34). Look at verse 32. “Jesus stopped and called them. ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked.” At this point we wonder why Jesus did not just heal their blindness right away, since it was so obvious that their shouting for his mercy meant receiving their sight. But Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” as the expression of his gladness to bless them. Jesus wanted to give the most precious thing to these blind men whose faith was shining. He wanted them to look up the one who can do anything and everything for them. Since they put their faith in Jesus, Jesus wanted them to be certain of the object of their faith. Jesus wanted them to know that Jesus is indeed the Lord. Only the Lord over everything can ask such a question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Also, before this Jesus, what they wanted was important. He respects what we want. Of course, he has purpose and plan for us. But he wants us to know clearly what we want and ask him. He can work according to our request. What we ask is such a tremendous importance to the Lord.

Look at verse 33. “‘Lord,’ they answered, ‘we want our sight.’” In many cases people have too many wants and do not know what they really want. In the previous passage John and James and their mother did not know what they really wanted. So they gave discouraging answer to Jesus, when Jesus asked, “What is it you want?” But these men clearly knew what they wanted. So right away they answered, “Lord, we want our sight.” They did not say, “Lord, we want our sight, money and job.” Of course, they needed all these things and more. But they knew the most one single important thing in their lives. So unambiguously they answered, “Lord, we want our sight.” They could make such a crystal clear answer because it was their life-time struggle. They were not distracted by many things but focused. When the time of blessing came, they could not lose this chance but seized it to obtain what they had pursue for.

There was a man who prayed for a son to be given him throughout his life time until he became like a grandpa. God blessed this man of prayer and indeed granted him the great son, John the Baptist in his old age. There was another man who could not die until he could see the Messiah the baby Jesus with his own eyes. God indeed blessed him according to never-dying wish and prayer. We remember Paul’s life-long prayer topic, “I want to know Christ.” Thank God that Jemmie could complete her life testimony before God. Through this she could firmly hold to Jesus’ words of promise, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” May God help Jemmie to keep one clear direction in her life and pray so that Jesus indeed may raise her as a fisher of men, a worker for God’s kingdom. May each of us be able to answer to this question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Look at verse 34. “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.” This showed how much Jesus was pleased with these blind men. Jesus’ blessing upon them was overflowing. They not only received their physical sight but also spiritual sight to see Jesus enough to follow him.

May God bless each of us with the faith and spirit of the two blind men, especially “all the louder” spirit that we may receive his blessing we have desired and pursued.

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