THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson on the life of Christ, we ended with Jesus raising Jarius’ 12 year old daughter back to life. As we press on, we are going to look at what Matthew writes next, which only he records.
Matthew 9:27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" 28 And when He had come into 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, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, "See that no one knows it." 31 But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.
As Jesus was leaving Jarius’ house, two blind men followed Him. We have to make a few assumptions here about how they knew Jesus was coming and how they followed Him. I would suggest that they must have had some friends or simply heard someone close to them say that He was coming. Unless they were following the noise of His footsteps or perhaps the noise of the others with Him, they were probably being led by someone. How they knew Jesus was coming and how they followed Him is not near as important as this statement they made. "Son of David, have mercy on us!"
The Pharisees and Scribes could learn a great deal from these blind men. Even though they could not see they were not blind to the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. To make such a statement tells us that these blind men believed the things they had heard about Jesus. It is even possible that these were part of the original crowd that followed Jesus to Jarius’ house. If they were, they may have heard what Jesus told the woman who was cured of her blood problem. So, there are a lot of possibilities here. Of course, all we know for sure is what our text tells us.
Our text does not show Jesus responding to them, but has Jesus continuing on His way until He goes into the house. These blind men were persistent because they followed Jesus into the house. I want you to think about this quality of persistence, because every person that loves the Lord should be persistent in their pursuit of God.
Let me illustrate it this way. Some of you have dated and some of you are married. Now if you were the pursuer in the relationship, then you saw this beautiful woman or this handsome man that you wanted to get to know. Maybe that person knew you and maybe they did not. Now, if you were lucky, that person might have given you the time of day the first time you approached him or her. However, many times the pursuer will be rejected the first time. However, if they are persistent in showing that they are a good person and worthy of knowing, then they might just change the mind of the one they want to get know better, but it does not stop there. Once the ice is broken and you begin to spend more time with that person and you discover that person is the one for you, then you are going to do everything in your power, within reason, to keep that person in your life.
When we love someone with our whole heart, we are going to persistently pursue them and do those things that they like. The same should be true when it comes to God. We are to love Him with our whole heart, mind and soul. When we become Christians, we do so because of our love for God. That love should never die, and we should persistently want to know more about Him and we should continue to do those things that please Him, which are found in God’s Word.
We are to be persistent in our prayer lives because God wants to hear from us. Paul said:
1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing,
When we pray, we need to make sure that we believe that our prayers will be answered. As James points out:
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
With this in mind, let’s get back to our two blind men. They have already shown their persistence by following Jesus into the house. Then Jesus puts them to the test.
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, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." 30 And their eyes were opened.
These men did not doubt that Jesus could heal them of their blindness. They were not ashamed to admit out loud that they believed in what Jesus could do. Their faith drove them to Jesus, and their faith in Him caused their eyes to be opened. Jesus touched their eyes, and now they could see. What a wonderful miracle. Can you image how happy these men were who had to go around in darkness all the time and were limited on what they could do. Back then, about the only thing they could do to survive was to rely on others or beg others for money. All of this would change, thanks to Jesus and their faith.
While Jesus comments about the faith of many of those He worked miracles on, faith was not always a requirement to be healed. The blind man in John 9 is a great example of this because that man did not even know who Jesus was. The only reason I point this out is because many times the fake miracle healers of today will tell a person that they cannot heal him because he does not have enough faith. They even say the same thing about those who thought they were healed at the healing service. Many times those who get caught up in the excitement of these alleged healing services convince themselves they have been healed, but when they go home their pain comes back or they find out from the doctor their cancer or whatever problem they had is still there. So, the fake miracle worker will say that they were healed, but they lost their healing because their faith was weak. This idea is not taught anywhere in Scripture.
Jesus was very adamant that these two blind men keep their healing to themselves, but like many of those who were healed, they could not keep it under wraps. So, they spread the news about Him throughout their country.
Many times we read these things in our Bibles, we might shake our heads about what these former blind men did. It is true that they should have honored Jesus’ request, but when I put myself in their place and think about being blind and then being able to see. I do not know if I would have been any better than them because it would be hard to not tell people about what Jesus did for me especially to those who knew I used to be blind. If they asked you, “how are you able to see?” Would you say, “I cannot tell you why?” That would be hard to do.
While Jesus was on the earth, He wanted most people to keep His miracles and what He did for them under wraps, but that is not the case anymore. Now, we are supposed to tell people about Jesus, and we should certainly tell people about the difference He has made in our lives. Today the blind is not being made to see, people are not being raised from the dead, and diseases are not being cured with miracles. However, something far greater than these things have been given to all those who are willing to persistently seek God out, which is the forgiveness of our sins. Sure, it would be great to be healed from a physical illness, but that will only last so long. The gift that Jesus has given us is eternal life in heaven and nothing compares to that.
The questions becomes, are you telling people about Jesus and what He did for you and how wonderful it is to know that heaven will be your home or do you remain silent? Isn’t it sad that we get excited about a movie we saw and we will go around and tell people all about, but we don’t tell people about Jesus and the difference He has made in our lives? We really need to think about that.
Notice what happens next:
Matthew 9:32 As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. 33 And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, "It was never seen like this in Israel!" 34 But the Pharisees said, "He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons."
Just after these blind men were healed, the people brought Jesus a man who was mute and demon possessed. Jesus had no problem casting this demon out. As usual, the crowd marveled at the power Jesus had. They knew that Jesus was someone special because they said, "It was never seen like this in Israel!" The Pharisees could not deny what Jesus was doing. All they could do was try and say that He was able to have this power by the ruler of demons. Jesus had already dealt with this false accusation before and we already covered in a previous lesson, so I will not go over that again, but the important thing to keep in mind is that even the Pharisees recognized that Jesus was doing powerful things, they just did not want to admit that it was by the power of God.
As we keep things in chronological order, we find Jesus going back to hometown in Nazareth, where He is going to be rejected by them a second time. We can find this in Mathew 13:53-58 and Mark 6:1-6. We will focus on Mark’s account.
Mark 6:1 Then He went out from there and came to His own country, and His disciples followed Him. 2 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him.
Jesus was a faithful Jew and He kept the Law of Moses. In fact, He kept it perfectly. It should not surprise us that Jesus would attend the synagogue on the day of worship for the Jew, which is our Saturday. Jesus took this opportunity to teach the people about God’s Word. Many that heard Jesus speak were blown away by His knowledge and His wisdom, but here in His hometown, it caused confusion because they knew Jesus and His family. They knew that He was the Son of a carpenter and was taught by his dad to be a carpenter. During those years that the Bible does not tell us about Jesus’ life, we can safely assume, based on what they are saying, that He was working with His hands a carpenter. Perhaps some of these very people used some of the things Jesus made. They also knew that Jesus did not have any formal training as some Jewish boys did, yet here He is speaking great words of wisdom.
They are having a hard time wrapping their minds around all of this because how could this lowly carpenter be speaking the way He does and be performing these mighty works that He is doing. Why is He any different than any of the other sons that grew up in their town? Because of this, they were offended at Him. I think it will help us understand what is meant here, by looking at the Greek definition of offended.
Strongs says this about offended: to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend… to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey… to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority
This shows that the stumbling block is who they think Jesus is. Since they think He is just some lowly carpenter, they cannot allow themselves to think that He is something more, which causes Jesus to state the following proverb:
Mark 6:4 But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house."
This is a general truth and we all should understand it because it does not matter if you become the president of the United States, your family and those you rubbed elbows with are not going to view you the same as those who did not know you. While some of your family and friends may be proud of you, some of them will not respect you or the wisdom it took for you to become the president. I have heard story after story about famous people who were treated poorly by their classmates, but they became famous and respected by many, but those same classmates probably still think lowly of them. Jesus was experiencing this same thing.
Mark 6:5 Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. 6 And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.
We need to keep in mind that the main purpose of Jesus’ miracles were to prove that He was the Son of God, but these people were so full of doubt that no amount of miracles would change their minds. Instead, the miracles would have just caused more confusion and did more harm than good. So, I do not believe this is saying the Jesus could not do mighty miracles there if He wanted to, but that it would not serve a purpose because of their unbelief. The reason I say this is because there are several time when Jesus works great miracles even though no faith was in place at the time.
Jesus did heal a few people there, but that was about it. People usually marveled at what Jesus could do, but here Jesus marvels at their unbelief. When I think about these people’s unbelief despite what Jesus could do, it really helps me deal with people today who reject what God’s Word has to say because, if people rejected Jesus who saw His mighty works with their own eyes, then it should not surprise me that many will reject what the Bible says about Him as well. From there, Jesus makes His way through the various villages teaching the Word of God. Matthew’s account gives a little more information about Jesus’ circuit He went on in:
Matthew 9:35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
This is a summary of what Jesus did, which I believe includes the circuit He went on. Though He did not do many miracles in His hometown, we can see that He did do many more mighty works in the various villages. Noticed, He preached the gospel of the kingdom, He healed every sickness and disease, and had great compassion on the people.
Jesus sets the groundwork for His disciples to go out and preach the basic message about the coming kingdom and how people need to repent. As Jesus said, it is important that we pray to God that He will send out labors into His harvest because the harvest in plentiful. Jesus disciples would be first to go out in the field as we continue reading in:
Matthew 10:1 And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
This is what these 12 men were being trained to do by Jesus. They have been with Him for a while and they have seen how Jesus’ operates. Now it is time for them to get some experience. So, Jesus gives them the power to cast out demons, cure sickness, and disease. This would be necessary to prove that the message they were teaching was from God. We are given the names of the 12 apostles. Next, Jesus gives His apostles instructions on what to do on this limited commission and what they would experience later on as well.
Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 "Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 "nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.
Jesus knew that the Gentiles would have their opportunity later to hear the Word of God, but for now, the house of Israel would be the focus because they were supposed to be God’s chosen people. Of course, under the new covenant, all people who obey God’s plan of salvation and live for Him based on His Word are His chosen people whether they are a Jew or a Gentile.
The basic message to be taught was the same as John the Baptist taught, which is the kingdom of heaven is hand, which is talking about the church. They were to do all the things that Jesus has already done including raising people from the dead. They were to do all the miracles for free because they did not earn this ability, it was given to them. However, the people they would teach and work miracles on were to support them by providing them with a place to stay and with food. This was not a get rich quick scam, it was simply the people supporting the apostles as long as they were in their city because a worker of the Lord is worthy of his pay. This thought is taught elsewhere in Scripture as well, such as 1 Cor. 9:14 and 1 Tim. 5:18.
11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 "And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
It was a custom for Jews to bless a house as they entered it. Jesus seems to be using this idea with a spiritual application. Whoever allows them to stay with them and has an open heart to hear the truth were to be blessed, but those who had closed hearts and would not allow them to stay would not be blessed. To shake the dust off your feet was a sign of rejection, but as Jesus said, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than it would be for those who rejected the teachings of the apostles.
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 "But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 "You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 "But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 "for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21 "Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
You have to love how Jesus paints pictures with His words. You can just imagine a sheep being put in the midst of a pack of wolves. This image shows just how dangerous it would be for His apostles. He tells them to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. In other words, be careful and do not become violent, but at the same time carry out your mission. He wants them to be prepared to suffer persecution, but when they speak to defend themselves it will not be their own words because the Holy Spirit will give them the words to say. He even talks about how family will betray each other over the message of Jesus, but when you remain faithful to the end, you will be saved. Jesus does not condone the idea of you keeping yourself in a dangerous situation because He tells them to flee to a new city.
There are several different views on what Jesus meant when He said: For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
What does “before Son of man comes” mean? While this is a vague statement I will share 3 views of what He is referring to.
1. The destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:29-31).
2. The Son coming into His dominion as King on the day of Pentecost.
3. The final judgment.
Out of these 3 choices the only one that would make sense is number 2 because the apostles would not make it through all the cities of Israel before this coming happens. We learn in Matthew 24 that the gospel would be proclaimed to the whole world before the destruction of Jerusalem, so all the cities would be gone through before then. The same is true with the final judgment. Based on what I just said, I really do not see why there would be that much confusion on this.
Jesus has more instructions for His disciples, but we are going to have to look at what else He says next time. Like Jesus, we need to continue to train Christians with God’s Word and to send them out to gain experience on reaching the lost. We must never forget that one of the major goals of being Christians is spreading the good news and leading people to Christ. When we lose sight of that, there will be fewer labors to send out into the field to gather the harvest. So, never stop being evangelistic.