Tag Archives: healing two blind men

Matthew 20: 29-34 Opening Eyes on the Way to Jerusalem

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

Matthew 20: 29-34

Parallel Mark 10: 46-52; Luke 18: 35-43

29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” 32 Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

Matthew is a careful narrator bringing together the pieces of Jesus’ story in a way that illustrates connections across the gospel and bringing enhanced meaning to each individual scene. The first disciples called to follow Jesus are two sets of brothers, (4:18-22) and the last who follow are two blind men enabled to see. Just as the request of the demons possessing two men make a request of Jesus (8: 28-34) is closely followed by the previous healing of two blind men (­9:27-31) so this healing of the two blind men is preceded by the formal request of the mother of James and John (see previous section). This pattern of twos provide clues to the oral structure underlying Matthew’s narration and provide signposts that allow the hearer to pay attention to commonalities in the stories. This narration of healing the two blind men outside of Jericho closes the gathering of Jesus’ followers in Galilee and on the road to Jerusalem. Its use of the Son of David title for Jesus recalls the previous usages of this title in the gospel[1] and prepares us for the crowds proclamation of this title as Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Jesus begins his final approach to Jerusalem making his way up from Jericho and a great crowd is with him. The crowds, like the disciples with the children, are a barrier for these two blind men to be in the presence of Jesus, but the use of both ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of David’ in their address to Jesus prepare us for Jesus’ eventual granting of their request. Previously when Jesus healed two blind men he ordered them to be silent, but instead they go and spread news about Jesus to the surrounding district. Here, the great crowds attempt to silence the two blind men only results in the blind men shouting greatly for mercy from the Lord, the Son of David. Matthew uses Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” as a key to understanding a merciful interpretation of scripture,[2] and just as the merciful are blessed and will receive mercy, Jesus responds with healing to numerous requests for mercy.[3] Jesus responds to this request for mercy with compassion.[4]

In contrast to the previous scene where the audacious request of the mother of James and John for a position of honor for her sons is met with a paradoxical partial fulfillment which points to James and John suffering, in this scene the request for mercy is met with healing. The response of Jesus to both the mother of James and John and the two blind men is and identical “What do you will (Greek theleo). There is irony in these two stories placed next to one another where disciples are unable to see what they ask, where these blind men are aware of their blindness and ask to be able to see. Despite the attempts to silence them by the crowds, they are invited into the presence of Jesus, touched by him, and have their eyes opened. Unlike the previous healing of blind men where faith was a primary portion of the story, the question of faith is unaddressed but assumed by both the titles used and the persistence of these blind men who become followers on the road to Jerusalem. Ironically, the words that the crowds attempt to silence from these two blind men becomes their shout as they surround Jesus to enter Jerusalem.

[1] The two blind men in 9:27 and the Canaanite woman in 15:22 use this title asking for healing and the crowd wonders could this be the Son of David in 12:23. For a fuller discussion of the use of the Son of David title see Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man Titles in Matthew’s Gospel.

[2] See 9:13 and 12:7

[3] 5:7 in the Sermon on the Mount; healings after requests for mercy: 2 Blind men (9:27-31), Canaanite woman (15: 21-28), Father of the moonstruck son (17:14-21) see also the request for mercy in the parable of the unforgiving slave (18:30-32)

[4] Previously Jesus has had compassion for the crowds (9:36, 14:18, and 15:32) but not for individuals. Compassion also is the expected action of the unforgiving slave in the parable (18:27)

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 close 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.