10 October 2007Matthew 20:29-34
"There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, the shouted, 'Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David"'. (v.30)
Jesus is travelling from Jericho towards Jerusalem. When he gets
there, as is described in the following chapter of Matthew's
Gospel, Jesus will be greeted by enthusiastic crowds who describe
him as the 'Son of David'. This story of two blind men being cured
therefore prepares us for what is to follow.
('Son of David' was a traditional Jewish way of talking about the 'Messiah' or 'Saviour' whom they believed would be sent by God to restore their fortunes in the face of their enemies and oppressors - at that time the occupying forces of the Roman Empire. The Messiah was also expected to restore all God's people to true faithfulness.)
But the story of the blind men also serves as a commentary on what goes immediately before, because Matthew has told us (verses 20-28) a story about how his closest followers, disciples, have failed to understand what Jesus was about and how they ought to respond.
Thus it is left to two blind men, ironically to 'see' the truth about Jesus - that he is the 'Son of David'.
Except that, we are invited to understand, even they didn't see the whole picture. Because Jesus was not quite the kind of Messiah most people imagined. Rather than being a military hero who would raise up an army to drive out the Romans, Jesus was engaged in an even bigger 'battle', the one against all the deep-rooted forces of evil and death that hold the world and its people in oppression, poverty and despair. And Jesus' 'weapon' would be the giving of his life.
Only when God in Jesus touches the 'eyes' of our understanding are we able to 'see' the full truth and to follow.
Who do you identify with most in this story? A disciple, struggling to understand? One of the blind men, with immediate needs to be dealt with? Someone in the crowd, embarrassed by the way some people approach God? Or Jesus, wanting to put everything right, but aware of the great personal cost?
What words would you use to describe who Jesus is for you?