Friday, October 07, 2005

Matthew 9:27-34

I am a literal person. That can be good and that can be bad, depending on the situation. Sometimes, I have difficulty reading the Bible and knowing what exactly I am suppose to learn from a given passage because my literal self won't allow the analytical self to take over. This passage is one of those. I simply do not understand why Jesus told the blind men whose sight he had just restored not to tell anyone. That would certainly have been impossible for me to do. And, evidently, it was impossible for them as they quickly went out telling everyone what had happened.

Why did Jesus want them to keep this a secret? One reason could be that he knew that miracles such as this would get him into trouble. But, he knew that he was headed for death anyway. It doesn't make sense that he was afraid of trouble - he was walking deliberately into it. Maybe he did not want those whose sight he restored to risk being persecuted for their faith. That seems unlikely as well because Jesus was telling those of faith that their weight was heavy but theirs was the kingdom of God so they should not fear the pain and suffering they would endure because of their faith.

Perhaps Jesus was testing their faith. If so, they failed this second test although they had just passed the faith test which allowed their eyesight to be restored to begin with.

Jesus was so intentional in the words he spoke. He would not have said this out of emotion and then think, "Oh, well, that's okay. They are faithful so I'll forgive them this time." In fact, Matthew says that Jesus sternly ordered them not to tell anyone of this miracle. But why?

In Matthew 5 through 7, Jesus delivers his "Sermon on the Mount". During Jesus' preaching and teaching from the time of the Sermon on the Mount until his death, everything he does and says is, as I said earlier, very intentional. Not only does he need to demonstrate his divinity, but he needs to set the stage for his death and his resurrection. History must see the religious leaders of the day as the very persons whose lives demonstrated the antithesis of what God was all about. One of the things he preaches during the Sermon on the Mount was not to be boastful. He was particularly speaking of the hypocritical Pharisees and the religious rulers of those days who would preach one thing and live another.

Perhaps he told the two men he healed not to tell others about the miracle as a reminder that it would be boastful and hypocritical to just boast about the good works God has shown in our lives without allowing such miracles to change our lives. This is not to say that we should not bear witness of the great works of the Lord or be opennly thankful for all that He has given to us. In fact, the Bible tells us to do just that. However, that should not be the hallmark of living our lives through faith. Instead, our hearts are to be changed. This reminds me of the line from the song: They will know we are Christians by our love. The world doesn't recognize Christians by our boasting of the good God has brought to us. Instead, it's our hearts filled with the love and grace that only God can give to us through our own reincarnation.

Vicki Nelson

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