Matthew 9: 27-31 Never Has Anything Like This Been Seen in Israel part 2

Matthew 9: 27-31

Jesus Healing the Blind From 12th Century Basilica Catedrale di Santa Maria Nouva di Monreale in Sicily.

Parallels Mark 10: 46-52, Luke 18: 35-43 but these are closer to Matthew 20: 29-34

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

Irony is strong in these two chapters which are preparing us for the sending out of the followers of Jesus into the plentiful harvest. Untouchable and unclean lepers have been touched and made clean, a Centurion can express a trust in terms of his understanding of authority that Jesus has not seen in all Israel, disciples may wonder ‘what sort of man is this’ but demon possessed men can speak truthfully about Jesus being the Son of God, a scribe who will follow Jesus anywhere may not but a disciple will get in the boat even as a father is needing burial, sins can be forgiven a paralytic and sinners can become disciples, two daughters (one of the leader, one who Jesus addresses as daughter) are beyond touch but through their own or a parent’s faith are enabled to ‘rise up’ and have a new opportunity at life. Now two blind men see what others cannot and once again Jesus, the Son of David, is called as a healer who can bring sight to the trusting blind men.

The report has spread throughout the district that Jesus has done incredible things to those who have asked of him. Most recently a girl who was dead has been raised to life, and if Jesus is capable of restoring life or healing a flow of blood then it would be reasonable to assume that Jesus can bring sight to the blind. The number of blind men also links us to the two demoniacs in Matthew 8: 28-34 and this story’s closes counterpart of the two blind men at Jericho in Matthew 20: 29-34. The Son of David title for Jesus in Matthew often occurs in contexts where healing occurs (Matthew 12: 23, 15: 22, and 20: 31) which is interesting because David is never lifted up as a healer in the stories and poetry about or attributed to him and this title is related to his role as the expected messianic figure from the line of David that brings about this new connection with God. (Hays, 2016, p. 147)

Within this short healing story faith/belief plays a strong role. The words for faith and believe are both from the Greek pistis and, as mentioned before, this word has the connotation in trusting that Jesus is powerful enough/capable of doing what is asked. Jesus says to the blind men, “Do you believe (pistis) I am able (dunamai-literally powerful) to do this?” Their response beginning with “Yes, Lord” indicates by both affirmation and title they choose to address Jesus by an understanding that is favorable in Matthew. These blind men can see that Jesus is Lord, not merely a teacher. They are healed according to the faith/trust they have in Jesus.

Eyes can be opened but tongues can apparently not be stilled. Eyes have been opened and the faithful and newly non-blind followers of the Lord the Son of David are told to see that others do not see. They are commanded to say nothing to anyone but instead they go away and spread the news throughout the district. The command for silence leads to proclamation, secrets are shouted from the rooftops, and the seeds of the upcoming harvest continue to be planted. Those who have never seen now see what no one in Israel has seen before and there are others who need to hear the good news of the kingdom to have their eyes opened, to receive healing from their diseases and sickness and to have their demons exorcised.

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3 Responses to Matthew 9: 27-31 Never Has Anything Like This Been Seen in Israel part 2

  1. Alex says:

    What do you think is the substance of the faith/trust that people have in Jesus? What exactly do they believe about Jesus that warrants their healing? Maybe it is different from person to person. Maybe it is the belief that Israel’s God, the God of life and death, is in or with him.

    The connection between David’s son and Jesus’ healings/exorcisms is interesting. We would most naturally go to Isaiah’s servant songs for reference to the restoration of sight to the blind and the strengthening of the lame. But those texts don’t portray the servant as Davidic. The Davidic shepherd is a healer of sorts in Ezekiel 34, however. He is installed as shepherd of Israel when the current shpherds fail to “feed the sheep,” “heal the sick,” “bind up the injured,” and “bring back the stray” (34:2-4).

    • Neil says:

      Good point on Ezekiel 34.
      Matthew never defines what the faith (pistis) is concretely so at best I can draw inferences from the narrative. Provisionally I would say it is directed towards Jesus (‘Do you believe I am able to do this’) and some type of trust in his power in Matthew’s gospel. There seems to be an openness to what Jesus’ presence or ability means toward their situation. I need to think about this in relation to the titles used, particularly among Gentiles in Matthew. My initial guess wouldn’t be that it includes ‘belief’ in Israel’s God as we normally think of belief in modern times.

      • Alex says:

        Not the belief that Israel’s God exists, but that Israel’s God is with Jesus. I’d assume that Gentiles know Jesus is a Jew and therefore take for granted that he is empowered by the Jewish god.

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