6 March 2013

Matthew 9:32-34

"After they had gone away, a demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, 'Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.' But the Pharisees said, 'By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.'" (vv. 32-34)


Another day and another miracle. This time a mute, demon possessed man was brought to Jesus. There are no more details about his identity than this. He was brought to Jesus, and was unable to speak (probably because of his demon possession.)

Many of my friends are currently awaiting the first words to be spoken from their children. The gentle encouragement and enticements to say 'mama' or 'dada' provides the daily soundtrack to mealtimes and playtimes.

What is particularly noticeable here, is that even though we are told that the man is mute and is then able to speak, we have no idea of what he actually said. For an event so life-changing, the lack of detail is frustrating!

Matthew's Gospel is not trying to pinpoint a key message through the healing of the mute, so much as to point to the other conversations happening at the same time. Those who are recorded as speaking have two quite distinctive responses. The crowd are amazed at the miracle, and declare that "never has anything like this been seen in Israel" (v. 33). The Pharisees, however, continue to plot and revile Jesus, accusing him of satanic dark arts (verse 34).

How do you feel about being faced with so many miracles? When faced with the problem of good (why to good things happen to questionable people), a standard response is that one would believe if one had 'seen it for themselves'. What we see here is the response of a number of people who have witnessed miracles - seen women cured of bleeding, blind men seeing and mute people speaking - and who are still convinced that Jesus is nothing less than evil.

I am left wanting the mute man to speak up, to stand up for what has happened, and to give some account for his new life. But instead, the chapter comes to a close with the judgemental groans of the Pharisees howling across the crowds.

To Ponder

  • What would your first words be, if you were the mute in this story?
  • What do you think about demon possession? Is it real or a metaphor?
  • What are the important things that you don't talk about? What would help you speak up?


Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Joanne Cox-Darling

Joanne Cox-Darling is a Methodist presbyter currently serving in the Wolverhampton Circuit, where most recently she participated in a harvest festival in a farmyard, surrounded by a 'small' dairy herd of nearly 200 cattle. Joanne is the chair of the Christian Enquiries Agency ( - described by the Archbishop of York as the "possibly the easiest form of evangelism you will ever do".