August 2nd, 2015
Matthew 9:27-38; 20:29-34
“Emmanuel: Son of David”
Service Orientation: Jesus demonstrates His divine authority through His humanness by illustrating (like His ancestor David) what it means to be thoroughly human by the power of God through His love, mercy, and compassion.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel . . . —2 Timothy 2:8
- Matthew concludes his collection of miracle stories and discipleship sayings with the same narrative expression that he used to mark the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness” (9:35; cf. 4:23). These verses form an inclusio, creating a “bookends” effect that sets off the material in the chapters between them. In chapters 5-7 Jesus is the authoritative Messiah in word in the Sermon on the Mount, and in chapters 8-9 he is the Messiah at work in the miracle stories. (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary–Matthew, 374)
- (v. 27) Unsanitary conditions, infectious organisms, blowing sand, accident, war, malnutrition, and excessive heat all combined to make blindness a constant danger. Many infants were born blind because of various diseases suffered by the mother during pregnancy, and many others became blind a few days after birth by being exposed to venereal disease, especially gonorrhea, as they passed through the birth canal. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 89)
- (v. 27) In OT times, while God’s people were to be considerate and compassionate to the blind (e.g., Lv 19:14), nevertheless, every example of someone becoming blind is in the context of their being judged/punished for sin (cf. Dt 28:28). Think of the Sodomites knocking on Lot’s door. They were “struck with blindness” (Gn 19:11). Or think of the Syrians who were attacking God’s people. Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Please strike this people with blindness. So he [the Lord] struck them with blindness” (2 Kgs 6:18). Or think of Samson and how his eyes, due to his sin, were gouged out (Jdgs 16:21). He died blind. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 267)
- (v. 27) For the first time in this Gospel, when asked for something he just keeps on walking. What’s he doing? (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 268)
- (v. 30) As their sight is restored, Jesus warns them, “See that no one knows about this.” The demand for secrecy is a regular aspect of Jesus’ ministry (see comments on 8:4; cf. 12:16; 16:20; 17:9) and may be a reason why he waits to heal them until they are indoors. He carefully avoids stirring up in the crowds a misunderstanding of his messianic identity. Although miracles will attest the authenticity of his gospel message about the arrival of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus does not want crowds to clamor for the miracles alone or to think of him simply as a messianic wonder-worker; he is the Savior, who has come to bring salvation from sin. (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary–Matthew, 373)
- (v. 30) Jesus now sternly warns them (embrimaomai suggests strong emotion; in some early texts it was used of the snorting of horses) not to tell anyone. It would hinder the true messianic work of Jesus should he gain undue fame as a healer. (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary–Matthew, 87)
- (v. 33) Think of the times the prophets cured the blind. You can’t think of any? Okay. Think of all the times the apostles opened the eyes of the blind. You can’t think of any? Okay. Think of the times today’s faith healers have given sight to the blind. You can’t think of any? How about Jesus? Jesus alone in the Bible and Jesus alone in world history (as far as I’m concerned) gives sight to the blind. Why? Because Jesus alone is the divine Son of God. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 584)
(v. 35) This verse introduces the next discourse that Matthew recorded (from 9:35 through 10:42). This verse also mirrors 4:23, a verse that introduced the last recorded discourse in chapters 5 through 7. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 194)
- (v. 36) The verb “have compassion” is splanchizomai (“to be moved in the inward parts”), which usually indicates deep feelings in the heart and affections. Elsewhere this word describes Jesus’ motivation to heal and feed the crowd (14:14; 15:32) and heal the blind (20:34; cf. 18:27). (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary–Matthew, 374)
The question to be answered is . . . What is the big deal about people calling Jesus the “Son of David”?
Answer: “Son of David” was a Messianic title that showed the mercy, humaneness, and compassion the Messiah would possess as well as the leadership, authority and benefits directed towards those who trusted in Him. It also pointed to the fierce, blind, and prejudiced opponents the Messiah (like David) would face as He advanced God’s agenda.
The Word for the Day is . . . Authority
What do we learn from Matthew 9:27-38 about Jesus as the Son of David?:
I- Like David, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who exemplifies what it means to be truly human by being merciful, compassionate, gracious, caring and loving. (Mt 9:27-29, 32-33, 35-36; see also: Nm 27:16-18; 1 Sm 17:1-51; 22:2-1; 1 Kgs 22:17; Ps ch 23; 72:12-13; 146:8; Isa 9:7; 11:3-5; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 40:10-11; 42:6-7; 61:1; Jer ch 23; Ez ch 34; Zech 10:2-3; 13:7; Mt 1:1, 6, 17; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; 22:42-45; 26:31; Lk 1:32-33, 52-53, 68-69; 2:4, 26, 30-34; Jn 7:42; 10:1-18; 19:5; Acts 2:29-36; 13:22-23; Rom 1:3; 2 Tm 2:8)
The word for “weary” can also mean “troubled,” bewildered,” or “despondent.” The word for “scattered” is also “prostrate” or “thrown to the ground.” The two words are near synonyms that stress man’s helplessness without God. Jesus came to be the Shepherd, the one who could show people how to avoid life’s pitfalls (see Jn 10:14; 1 Pt 2:25). (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 195)
The Pharisees saw the common people as chaff to be destroyed and burned up; Jesus saw them as a harvest to be reaped and to be saved. The Pharisees in their pride looked for the destruction of sinners; Jesus in love died for the salvation of sinners. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 356)
The NT generally accepts and asserts Jesus’ Davidic origin as a given (e.g., Acts 2:29-36; 13:22-23; Rom 1:3; 2 Tm 2:8), but the title “Son of David” seems to have a special resonance for Matthew. It is used by others about Jesus, usually as here when approaching him to ask for help (cf. 15:22; 20:30, 31), but also in discussing (12:23) or proclaiming (21:9, 15) his messianic status. The only time Jesus himself uses it is to raise a question over its Christological adequacy (see on 22:41-45), yet it is apparently not in itself inappropriate, since Jesus is prepared to defend its use in 21:15-16. He is in fact the Messiah (which is what the title primarily means), however much his messianic role may be misunderstood by those who cannot see him as anything more than just another David. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament–The Gospel of Matthew, 366)
Sympathy sees and says, “I’m sorry.” Compassion sees and says, “I’ll help.”
Do we feel tenderly concerned about their souls? Do we deeply pity their spiritual destitution? Do we long to see that destitution relieved? These are serious inquiries, and ought to be answered. It is easy to sneer at missions to the heathen, and those who work for them; but the man who does not feel for the souls of all unconverted people can surely not have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). (Alister McGrath, The Crossway Classic Commentaries–Matthew, 69)
The mercy of God to us should melt our hearts into mercy toward others. It is impossible that we should be cruel to others, except we forget how kind and compassionate God hath been to us. (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 86)
If we feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problem, we often do little about it. Statistics about massive human suffering in Africa can actually make people less charitable. The reason? Researchers theorized that focusing on statistics short-circuits a compassionate response by shifting people into an analytical frame of mind. And when people think analytically, it can hinder their ability to act compassionately. The head gets in the way of the heart. (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 30-1)
Jesus is the object of their faith. Jesus as the “Son of David” (v. 27) is the object of their faith. They are the first to see both Jesus’ royalty and also his fulfillment–that he is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. The first words of Matthew’s Gospel are, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David…” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 266)
He is the Son of David, but unlike David (and nobody will get this until after the resurrection) he has not come as a military warrior but as a sacrificial lamb. He is the Son of David, but also the Suffering Servant. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 269)
His response is described by the strongly emotional Greek verb splanchnizomai, which speaks of a warm, compassionate response to need. No single English term does justice to it: compassion, pity, sympathy, and fellow feeling all convey part of it, but “his heart went out” perhaps represents more fully the emotional force of the underlying metaphor of a “gut response.” A further feature of this verb appears through a comparison with its other uses in Matthew (14:14; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34). In each case there is not only sympathy with a person’s need, but also a practical response which meets that need; emotion results in caring and effective action, in this case the action of sending out his disciples among the people. It is a verb which describes the Jesus of the gospel stories in a nutshell. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT–Matthew, 373)
The Jewish leaders, who should have been giving men strength to live, were bewildering men with subtle arguments about the Law, which had no help and comfort in them. When they should have been helping men to stand upright, they were bowing them down under the intolerable weight of the Scribal Law. They were offering men a religion which was a handicap instead of a support. We must always remember that Christianity exists, not to discourage, but to encourage; not to weigh men down with burdens, but to lift them up with wings. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 356)
The Lord saw lost people as having no real goals. They were “scattered abroad”–like sheep. Sheep are neither strong, nor smart, nor swift. They are somewhat stupid, having a propensity to go astray and wander aimlessly farther and farther away. Lost sheep have no goal, no instinctive sense that will bring them back to the fold. Jesus saw lost people as sheep wandering here and there through life, with no sense as to where it all leads and where it all ends. (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 174)
No creature is more apt to go astray than a sheep, and when gone astray more helpless, shiftless, and exposed, or more unapt to find the way home again: sinful souls are as lost sheep; they need the care of shepherds to bring them back. The teachers the Jews then had pretended to be shepherds, yet Christ says they had no shepherds, for they were worse than none; idle shepherds that led them away, instead of leading them back, and fleeced the flock, instead of feeding it; such shepherds as were described, Jer 23:1, Ez 34:2. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 129)
The activity that we might berate as mindless he sees as the result of being leaderless. The mass fads and hysteria that we write off as immature and ignorant he can therefore treat with compassion. The resentments, rebellion, diverting amusements, foolish pastimes, raw hooliganism, and stupid habits can be condescendingly dismissed by the elite of society; but Jesus’ diagnosis implicitly puts not a little of the blame on those who are so dismissive. Behind the objectionable behavior, indeed the sinful behavior, lie frustration, exploitation, unarticulated despair at not knowing which way to turn. Where, then, are the leaders? The sad truth is that they are often in the same state as the led–which is another way of saying they are not real leaders at all. In other instances they are too busy worshiping themselves; in still others, far from helping or leading the masses, they contribute to the sheer harassment of the people. (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 241)
The leaders in Israel’s history had also been likened to shepherds. Joshua was appointed leader after Moses, so that “the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd” (Nm 27:17). But that is what Israel is like in Jesus’ day. The leaders have not fulfilled their responsibility to guide and protect the people, and therefore the people are “harassed” and “helpless.” These crowds are experiencing distressing difficulties and are unable to care for themselves. The job of the shepherd is to make sure that the sheep are led peacefully beside still waters and that they lack for nothing, but these leaders are harassing the helpless crowds. They are suffering under the oppression of the occupying Roman forces, plus they have all of the daily concerns, heartbreaks, and difficulties of life beating down on them. (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary–Matthew, 375)
It is rare that Christians earnestly seek the Lord’s face when things are going swimmingly, when material blessings abound and we seem to be protected from the vicissitudes faced by others. But in the blackness of discouragement, when we are harassed and downcast, we may indeed turn to the Lord and acknowledge our helplessness apart from his grace; we may do so knowing that God is a compassionate God, and that Jesus’ compassion was particularly directed toward the harassed and the helpless. (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 242)
The key-word of this divine life is–compassion. If you do not seize that word in its true meaning, the life of Jesus Christ will be to you little more than either a romantic surprise or a dead letter. It is not a life of genius, it is not a display of literary power, it is preeminently, yet inclusively, a life of love, a history of compassion, an exemplification of the tenderest aspects of the infinite mercy of God. Begin at that point and read the history in that light, and you will see the right proportion of things and their right color, and you will hear their sweetest and richest music. (Joseph Parker, Servant of All, 93)
Within just a few days he will, by means of his suffering on the cross, show to all who are willing to see, in what sense he is indeed the Son of David. The character of his messianic office–in simple language: how he saves–will then become evident, though the majority will still refuse to accept the truth. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 754)
“Teaching” shows Jesus’ concern for understanding; “preaching” shows his concern for commitment; and “healing” shows his concern for wholeness. His miracles of healing authenticated his teaching and preaching, proving that he truly was from God. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 195)
He was the most merciful human being who ever lived. He reached out to the sick and healed them. He reached out to the crippled and gave them legs to walk. He healed the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and the mouths of the dumb. He found prostitutes and tax collectors and those that were debauched and drunken, and He drew them into the circle of His love and redeemed them and set them on their feet. (John MacArthur, Kingdom Living Here and Now, 107)
When Jesus came into the world, he made it clear that he had not come to be served, but to serve. That meant that he had a keen appreciation of human need and that he was absolutely committed to applying himself to meeting that need. (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 132)
As Soren Kierkegaard put it, when it is a question of a sinner He does not merely stand still, open his arms and say, “Come hither”; no, He stands there and waits, as the father of the lost son waited, rather He does not stand and wait, He goes forth to seek, as the shepherd sought the lost sheep, as the woman sought the lost coin. He goes—yet no, He has gone, but infinitely farther than any shepherd or any woman, He went, in sooth, the infinitely long way from being God to becoming man, and that way He went in search of sinners. (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 55)
Theologian Karl Barth, after writing thousands of pages in his Church Dogmatics, arrived at this simple definition of God: “the One who loves.” (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 55)
Motherhood and Compassion. A few days ago I made a marvelous discovery. In the Hebrew language of the OT the word for “compassion” comes from the root word, “womb.” The picture is of a birthing. Something new is being born. If I apply this in a human experience, it means that my compassionate acts always give the other person another chance. I do not hold past failures against them. I offer a “fresh start.” I want this for myself from others. Am I willing to give it to the other person? Such compassion will dramatically change the way we relate to each other. (Brooks Ramsey, Pastoral Counseling and Consulting Center, Memphis TN).
Our culture says that ruthless competition is the key to success. Jesus says that ruthless compassion is the purpose of our journey. (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 168-9)
I believe that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, right down to the jot and tittle. That means that even word sequence is significant. And when Jesus reveals the four primal elements of love, the heart comes first. I’m afraid that the Western church has tried to engage our culture mind-first instead of heart-first. But minds often remain closed to truth until hearts have been opened by compassion. There is certainly a place for logical, left-brained explanations of faith. But compassion is the ultimate apologetic. There is no defense against it. (Mark Batterson, Primal, A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity, 17)
II- Opened eyes of faith in Jesus, like faith in David, is rewarded. (Mt 9:29; see also: Ps chps 1, 103; Jn 10:10)
Religion is the major reason the West rose to become the most prosperous civilization in the world. In the Middle Ages, Europe was like a modern Third World country, with little education, widespread poverty, and recurring famine. Medieval Christians thought of holy living as something required only of a spiritual elite–just as the Bible belonged only to an elite, the priests and monks. The common people felt little moral imperative to be honest or industrious.
But the Reformation changed that. The Reformers taught that all believers are called to live holy lives–just as all may read the Bible. Every vocation can be a calling, a way to serve God and the human community. As a result, the Reformation stressed an ethic of honesty, diligence, and thrift–what has been called the Protestant work ethic. It had a profound effect economically. Modern business practices became possible, prosperity blossomed.
Today we have nearly forgotten that the foundation of our economy lies in the Christian moral vision. And as a result, we are seeing our economy dragged down by dishonesty and fraud. (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 305)
Before their healing, the blind men saw Jesus in their mind’s eye, enough to identify him as the Messiah. But when their eyes were opened, they saw him as he is, and they began to “spread the news about him all over that region” (v. 31). What happened here reminds us of what happened when Jesus appeared to the two Emmaus disciples when they were making their way back home after the resurrection. They had heard about Christ’s resurrection, but they did not believe it. Dead men do not rise. When Jesus appeared to them, they failed to recognize him. This was a spiritual blindness, illustrated by their inability to see who he was. But he began to teach them from the OT, and when he did, “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:31). (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew, Vol 1, 158)
Every one of us was born blind with respect to the things of God. By nature we cannot see the spiritual realm of God. There are scales on our eyes. We can see well enough in terms of our biological vision, but we cannot see beyond the plane of this world. If we talk to people about Christ, they say, “I just don’t see that.” They say that because they do not see it, and they do not see it because they cannot see it. It is not because there is something wrong with their optic nerves. It is because there is something wrong with their souls. The sin of our hearts blinds us to the things of God. Until God opens the eyes of our hearts, we cannot see them. If you perceive the things of God today, if you see the sweetness of Jesus, if you see the excellency of God, that is not a natural vision that you have accomplished on your own. That is a gift of God. It is evidence that God has touched you, just as Jesus touched these blind men. (R.C. Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary–Matthew, 291)
You have been reading the life of Christ as if he were one of twenty men, leaders of human thought; we have lectured upon him as if he belonged to a gallery of heroes. Therein have we done him injustice, and therein, too, have we done ourselves injustice, for we have not viewed the great occasion from the right standpoint; therefore have we missed its majesty, its perspective, its subtlest relations, and its deepest significance. He is not one of many, he is many in one. Therein is that singular utterance most true–he is All in All–multitudinous Man, as great a host as the throng on which he looked; they were detailed humanity, he was our totalized nature. He felt every pang, he responded to every emotion. He is not a priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, he knows us through and through, and he is every one of us, because he is the Son of Man. (Joseph Parker, Servant of All, 94)
To bring about faith in himself and to preserve this faith is the very purpose of the miracles. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 436)
All the blind men in the Gospels have certain resemblances. One is that they are all sturdily persevering, as perhaps was easier for them because they could not see the impatience of the listeners, and possibly because, in most cases, persistent begging was their trade, and they were used to refusals. But a more important trait is their recognition of Jesus as “Son of David.” Blind as they are, they see more than do the seeing. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 87)
His message was to individuals, not to crowds. It was a natural impulse to tell the benefits these two had received; but truer gratitude and deeper faith would have made them obey His lightest word, and have shut their mouths. We honor Christ most, not by taking our way of honoring Him, but by absolute obedience. (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 9-17, 89)
If they had boldly called Him by the messianic title Son of David before they were healed, how much bolder their declaration must have been after they received their sight by the touch of His hand! When John the Baptist was imprisoned and sent His disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus did not answer directly, but rather said, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Mt 11:3-5). Jesus was concerned that especially the Jews, as God’s chosen people, accept His messiahship on the basis of His fulfillment of OT prophecy, not simply on the basis of hearsay or mere verbal claims. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 94)
People tend to imagine that the moment we move away from biblically controlled legislation we will get more freedom and more tolerance. That is not the lesson of history. What we will get is more inhumanity, more barbarism and more savagery.” (Donald MacLeod as quoted by Alistair Begg; in Pathway to Freedom)
Ask most people what they need to do to get into heaven and they will say, “Be good”. But ask Jesus what we need to do to get into heaven and He will tell you , “Cry for help!” (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 55)
The truth is that you cannot separate morality from religion. Historian Will Durant who conducted a massive survey of Western civilization, concluded that no society has ever been known to maintain “a moral life without the aid of religion.” (Charles Colson, A Dangerous Grace, 140)
Excerpts taken from “Three Days to See” by Helen Keller:
I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his early adult life. Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.
Now and then I have tested my seeing friends to discover what they see. Recently I asked a friend, who had just returned from a long walk in the woods, what she had observed. “Nothing in particular,” she replied.
How was it possible, I asked myself, to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note? I who cannot see find hundreds of things to interest me through mere touch. I feel the delicate symmetry of a leaf. I pass my hands lovingly about the smooth skin of a silver birch, or the rough, shaggy bark of a pine. In spring I touch the branches of trees hopefully in search of a bud, the first sign of awakening Nature after her winter’s sleep. Occasionally, if I am very fortunate, I place my hand gently on a small tree and feel the happy quiver of a bird in full song.
At times my heart cries out with longing to see all these things. If I can get so much pleasure from mere touch, how much more beauty must be revealed by sight. And I have imagined what I should most like to see if I were given the use of my eyes, say, for just three days.
…On the first day, I should want to see the people whose kindness and companionship have made my life worth living. I do not know what it is to see into the heart of friends through that “window of the soul,” the eye. I can only “see” through my fingertips the outline of a face. I can detect laughter, sorrow, and many other obvious emotions. I know my friends from the feel of their faces.
How much easier, how much more satisfying it is for you who can see to grasp quickly the essential qualities of another person by watching the subtleties of expression, the quiver of a muscle, the flutter of a hand. But does it ever occur to you to use your sight to see into the inner nature of a friend? Do not most of you seeing people grasp casually the outward features of a face and let it go at that?
For instance, can you describe accurately the faces of five good friends? As an experiment, I have questioned husbands about the color of their wives’ eyes, and often they express embarrassed confusion and admit that they do not know.
…..I should let my eyes rest on the face of a baby, so that I could catch a vision of the eager, innocent beauty which precedes the individual’s consciousness of the conflicts which life develops.
…In the afternoon I should take a long walk in the woods and intoxicate my eyes on the beauties of the world of Nature. And I should pray for the glory of a colorful sunset. That night I think, I should not be able to sleep.
…I should arise with the dawn and see the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day.
…I (would) stand at a busy corner, merely looking at people, trying by sight of them to understand something of their daily lives. I see smiles, and I am happy. I see serious determination, and I am proud. I see suffering, and I am compassionate.
…I am certain that the colors of women’s dresses moving in a throng must be a gorgeous spectacle of which I should never tire. But perhaps if I had sight I should be like most other women–too interested in styles to give much attention to the splendor of color in the mass.
…Perhaps this short outline does not agree with the program you might set for yourself if you knew that you were about to be stricken blind. I am, however, sure that if you faced that fate you would use your eyes as never before. Everything you saw would become dear to you. Your eyes would touch and embrace every object that came within your range of vision. Then, at last, you would really see, and a new world of beauty would open itself before you.
I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses. Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell and taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you through the several means of contact which Nature provides. But of all the senses, I am sure that sight must be the most delightful. (Readers Digest, 4/02)
III- Jesus, like David, had fierce, blind, and prejudiced opponents. (Mt 9:34; see also: 1 Sm 24:1-5; 26:1-25; Mt 12:24-27; 13:13-15; 23:16-26; Jn 9:39-41; Rom 1:18-25; 2 Cor 4:4-6; Eph 4:18; 2 Tm 3:13; 2 Pt 1:5-9)
Seeing is NOT believing. Believing is seeing. —Augustine
It must always remain true that what the eye sees depends upon what the heart feels. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 351)
They were too prejudiced to see. Their eyes were so blinded by their own ideas that they could not see in Jesus Christ the truth and the power of God. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 352)
Matthew showed how Jesus was maligned by those who should have received him most gladly. Why did the Pharisees do this? (1) Jesus bypassed their religious authority. (2) He weakened their control over the people. (3) He challenged their cherished beliefs. (4) He exposed their insincere motives. While the Pharisees questioned, debated, and dissected Jesus, people were being healed and lives changed right in front of them. Their skepticism was based on jealousy of Jesus’ popularity. The opposition to Jesus was intensifying: Jesus was far too powerful and popular for the Pharisees’ comfort. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 194)
There are some men who never can do right in our estimation. They may be gifted with genius, their character may be above suspicion, and all their work may be of a high type, but we hate them, and therefore, when we are called upon to explain their influence or to account for their character, we are willing to accredit the devil with the whole rather than to speak one just word about the man we detest. Beware of prejudice: it enters the mind very subtly, and once in the mind, it is the most difficult of all its occupants and rulers to dislodge. It is irrational, you cannot get a hold of it, it has no center, it acknowledges no court of appeal, it is invisible. It was from such prejudice that Jesus Christ suffered. (Joseph Parker, Servant of All, 88)
When an unbeliever is determined not to believe, no fact or reason, no matter how obvious and convincing, can enlighten him. The person who is sold out to darkness refuses to recognize the light, even when it is blindingly clear. And the person who praises Jesus but rejects Him or ignores and rejects Him is just as damned as the person who denounces and rejects Him. Any response to Jesus but the response of faith amounts to rejection and results in damnation. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 8-15, 103)
It’s been observed in surveys that the average person believes he is better than the average person. We are blind to our own blindness. (David Jeremiah, Captured by Grace, 69)
One thing the Bible makes abundantly clear is that human beings with a stake in their self-centered lives are experts in fooling themselves. (D. James Kennedy; What Is God Like?, 73)
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. —William James
Now this is the most alarming thing that we can ever realize about ourselves. Every one of us is subject to prejudice. There is not one of us that is free from it; the devil sees to that. And the prejudices are almost endless in number. So that when we come to the Scriptures we come with a prejudiced eye and we see what we want to see. That is what the heretics have always done, is it not? They have always quoted Scripture. Some of the modern heretics quote a little Scripture, not much, but even they do try to quote a little. And, if you take the Scriptures with their prejudiced mind and understanding you can make them prove almost anything you like. So the Jews were perfectly happy about themselves, because it seemed to them that the Scriptures everywhere were saying that they alone were saved and that everybody else was lost; whereas the truth was that they were lost and others were saved.
We must always beware of prejudice. We must never read the Scriptures without praying. We should never approach them without asking the Holy Spirit to lead us and to guide us and to direct us. We should deliberately humble ourselves, we should talk to ourselves and say, Now why am I going to the Scriptures? Am I going there only to find arguments to support my case, or am I going there to be instructed, to be enlightened, to have my eyes opened to the truth of God? We should always try to come as little children and be ready to find that we are wrong. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 9, 321)
If we do not move in divine forgiveness, we will walk in much deception. We will presume we have discernment when, in truth, we are seeing through the veil of a critical spirit. We must know our weaknesses, for if we are blind to our sins, what we assume we discern in men will merely be the reflection of ourselves. Indeed, if we do not move in love, we will actually become a menace to the body of Christ (Mt 7:1-5). (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 75)
The centurion shows that Gentiles can see Jesus for who he is. The tax collector Matthew shows that sinners can also see him. And then, irony of ironies, even blind men see Jesus as Lord and Christ. But these Jewish religious elites are completely blind. The blind see, the mute speak, but the Pharisees speak out of their blindness. (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew–All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, 270)
Do nothing in the world, and nobody will care who you are or from where you came. You will not be a figure, you will not be a force in society, you do not start any impulses that move other men, you throw no new lights upon the path of life, there never comes into your voice a startling tone; nobody cares, therefore, who you are and where you came from, it is a point of concern to no one to account for you, simply because there is nothing to be accounted for. But challenge the thinking of the time, put truth in new phases and aspects before the intellect of the age, startle the world by challenging its ancient orthodoxies and its most accredited traditions and prejudices, then perhaps people may begin to say, “Who are you? By what authority doest thou these things?” [Mt 21:23; cf. Mk 11:28; Lk 20:2]. (Joseph Parker, Servant of All, 86)
They exclaimed, Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel. The reaction of the religious leaders was quite different. Instead of acknowledging the power of God at work, they decided that it was by the power of the prince of the demons that Jesus had performed the exorcism. The contrast in how the healing was perceived is Matthew’s major point. (Robert H. Mounce, New International Biblical Commentary–Matthew, 88)
He was despised and rejected of men, but he shall one day be the desire of all nations. He was a root out of a dry ground, but one day he will be to the world as the Flower of Jesse and the Plant of Renown. He can wait. Falsehood is in a hurry; it may be at any moment detected and punished; truth is calm, serene, its judgment is on high, its King cometh out of the chambers of eternity. (Joseph Parker, Servant of All, 92)
This chapter has the Pharisees accusing Jesus of four different sins: blasphemy, befriending outcasts, impiety, and serving Satan, the prince of demons. In Scripture Satan is constantly portrayed as the imitator of God, so the Pharisees may have been referring to this belief. They tried to explain Jesus away by saying that he was only imitating God but was really in league with Satan–and that’s why the demons obeyed him. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 194)
It is to be observed that the Pharisees did not try to deny the reality of these mighty works. Cf. Acts 4:16. They did something even more wicked. It was to the enabling influence of Satan, the prince of the demons, that they ascribed Christ’s power to perform miracles. The hostility revealed already in verses 3 and 11 reaches a very high point here in verse 34. (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 438)
Thus we are now told, for the first time specifically (already implied in 8:17), that Jesus’ helping and healing missions result from sympathy or compassion; that the base accusation of the Pharisees–“By the prince of the demons he casts out demons,” 9:34–is not about to be dropped but is to be repeated (10:25; 12:24, 27), with murderous intent (12:14); and that the people’s enthusiasm regarding the prophet of Nazareth is to a large extent of a carnal nature, so that when their earthly expectation is not satisfied they turn against him (11:20 ff.). So do his own brothers (12:46 ff.; cf. Mark 3:21, 22), and his own townspeople (13:57). (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary–Matthew, 439)
Without eyes of faith the Pharisees cannot see beyond their parochial experience that God is doing something unique in Israel in the word and work of Jesus. So they gather their opposition to Jesus, both protecting their religious domain and thinking they are protecting the people from Jesus. (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary–Matthew, 374)
Thoreau wrote that “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to the luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor… None can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.” (Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor, 313)
As for man, his very life depends on a special impartation of the “breath (neshamah) of life” (Gn 2:7) and the divine Spirit is behind all the unique powers that he possesses, in distinction to the animals. The Spirit, or Breath, of God is the source of man’s reason (Job 32:8); of his endowments and gifts (Gn 41:38; Ex 28:3); or his artistic skills as in the case of Bezalel (Ex 36); of his cunning in war as exemplified in Joshua (Dt 34:9); of his heroism as displayed in the Judges (Jdg 13:25); of his wisdom, as celebrated in Solomon (1 Kgs 3:28); of his religious and ethical insights as seen in the inspiration of the poets and prophets (Nm 11:17; 25f., 29; 2 Sm 23:2; 1 Kgs 22:24; Ez 11:5; Dan 4:8, 9), and of his purity as seen in the strength and penitence of the righteous (Neh 9:20; Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10; Ez 36:26; Zech 12:10). (The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible Vol. H-L, 184)
One of the lures of the New Age movement is its teaching that we’re all essentially good and evolving into better and better people—a premise thoroughly contradicted by the evening news on any given day. This bogus belief feeds into what psychologists call our “self-serving bias,” which is our tendency to emphasize the positive side of our lives.
For example, a few years ago a drug dealer was being sentenced in Chicago for masterminding a giant drug operation and committing—and this is no exaggeration—hundreds of felonies, including plotting to murder a federal agent. At his sentencing he looked the judge in the eye and said with complete sincerity, “I may be a drug dealer, but I’m not a bad person.” Talk about self-serving bias!
Contrast that with how the British writer G.K. Chesterton came face-to-face with the depth of his own sin and the way it was poisoning others around him. When the London Times invited readers to write on the topic “What’s wrong with the world?” this is the complete text of what he submitted:
G.K. Chesterton (Lee Stroble; God’s OUTrageous Claims, 204-5)
IV- Like David, Jesus was driven to pursue God’s agenda and will — a new creation. Are you? (Mt 9:37-38; see also: 2 Sm 6:12-23; ch 7; 1 Chr 22:2-19; 15:25-16:3; Mt 19:28; 2 Cor 5:17; Heb 10:5-10; Rv 21:5)
Why do you think Jesus would look at the crowds around him, with all their deep needs, and then turn to his disciples and tell them to pray for themselves? The answer is humbling. When Jesus looked at the harassed and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the lost would not come to the Father. Instead his concern was that his followers would not go to the lost. (David Platt, Radical, 187)
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be. —William Hazlitt
“That we put values, principles and ideals above our very being is what places us above animals.” —Dr. Laura Schlessinger
The church is herself only when she exists for humanity…She must take her part in the social life of the world, not lording it over men, but helping and serving them. She must tell men, whatever their calling, what it means to live in Christ, to live for others.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The desire to understand the world and the desire to reform it are the two great engines of progress, without which human society would stand still or retrogress. — Bertrand Russell
What if being human means to keep vigil, to long to be free, to battle with pain, to be discontented with the fallen world in which we live to weep, to hunger, thirst, to mourn to wait. What if to become inhumane is to accept this fallen world as the norm? (Paraphrase of Henri Nouwen; Reaching Out, 24)
Progress has brought us both unbounded opportunities and unbridled difficulties. Thus, the measure of our civilization will not be that we have done much, but what we have done with that much. I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism. (George Grant, Carry a Big Stick: The Uncommon Heroism of Theodore Roosevelt, 134-5)
The great ambition of the million is to be happy as animals, not to be blessed as “saved,” noble-spirited, sanctified men. (A. B. Bruce; The Training of the Twelve, 187)
God is the Lord of the harvest; my Father is the Husbandman, Jn 15:1, 7. It is for him and to him, and to his service and honor, that the harvest is gathered in. Ye are God’s husbandry (1 Cor 3:9); his threshing, and the corn of his floor, Isa 21:10. He orders everything concerning the harvest as he pleases; when and where the laborers shall work, and how long; and it is very comfortable to those who wish well to the harvest-work, that God himself presides in it, who will be sure to order all for the best. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 129)
Where the OT speaks of “reaping” people, it is usually a metaphor for judgment (Isa 17:4-6; 24:12-13; Jer 51:33; Hos 6:11; Joel 3:13; cf. Rv 14:14-20), though in Jer 2:3 Israel is God’s “harvest” in a positive sense. Here, following the reference to Jesus’ “compassion,” it can hardly refer to judgment. Rather, as with the fishing metaphor of 4:19, the focus is now on bringing people in for their own good. The metaphor will be developed in 13:24-30, 35-43, where it will become clear that in the process of bringing the good grain there will also be the need to separate out the weeds, so that the judgment aspect of the metaphor is there preserved. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament–The Gospel of Matthew, 373)
“The worse sin toward your fellow creature is not to hate him, but to be indifferent toward him. That is the essence of inhumanity.” — George Bernard Shaw
The Bible is clear here: I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live–this lost world–means that we desert the people who need our greatest help.
Let me illustrate. I am walking down the street and I come upon a big, burly man beating a tiny tot to death–beating this little girl–beating her–beating her. I plead with him to stop. Suppose he refuses? What does love mean now? Love means that I stop him in any way I can, including hitting him. To me this is not only necessary for humanitarian reasons: it is loyalty to Christ’s commands concerning Christian love in a fallen world. What about that little girl? If I desert her to the bully, I have deserted the true meaning of Christian love–responsibility to my neighbor. She, as well as he, is my neighbor. (Francis A. Schaeffer; The Great Evangelical Disaster, 128)
All human things are trivial if they exist for nothing beyond themselves.” The real value of anything depends on its aim. If we eat simply for the sake of eating, we become gluttons, and it is likely to do us far more harm than good; if we eat to sustain life, to do our work better, to maintain the fitness of our body at its highest peak, food has a real significance. If a man spend a great deal of time on sport simply for the sake of sport, he is at least to some extent wasting his time. But if he spends that time in order to keep his body fit and thereby to do his work for God and men better, sport ceases to be trivial and becomes important. The things of the flesh all gain their value from the spirit in which they are done.” (William Barkly; Commentary on John: Vol. 1, 227)
Jesus’ compassion issues in prayer, and in a call to pray. It may be that if we fail to pray, it is because our compassion is defective. Or it may be that our compassion is engaged, but our diagnosis of the problems and their remedies is faulty, prompting us to devote all our energies to what are at best secondary solutions. But if we align ourselves with the compassion of the Lord Jesus, and his analysis of the most urgent needs and their solution, we shall learn to pray to the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest field. (D.A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 246)
The first great fact which emerges from our civilization is that today everything has become “means.” There is no longer an “end”; we do not know whither we are going. We have forgotten our collective ends, and we possess great means: we set huge machines in motion in order to arrive nowhere. —Jacques Ellul (Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 99-100)
Human beings are the only animals on the face of the earth who blush—or need to. — Mark Twain
Nine Statements as written in the Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey: #7 – Satan represents man as just another animal, sometimes better, more often worse than those that walk on all-fours, who, because of his “divine spiritual and intellectual development,” has become the most vicious animal of all!
Do not allow the success of democracy in America to confuse you with righteousness. The majority vote does not equal justice or righteousness. There are tribes in Africa that the majority of the people are cannibals. Does that make it right? In the early 19th century South a majority of the people believed that to own blacks as slaves and to regard them as property was properly legal. Does that make it right? In late 1930’s Germany there were lots of people who believed that putting Jews in concentration camps was best for the nation. Does that make it right? In 2015 America, the democratic government of the United States has deemed that homosexuality is legal and good. Does that make it right?
The word pastor means “shepherd.” That means gentle, right! Not at all! The Bible’s most famous shepherd, David, was also the Bible’s most celebrated warrior. This is what men need: a pastor with a shepherd’s heart and the spirit of a warrior. (David Murrow; Why Men Hate Church, 174)
When a mother can kill her baby what is left of civilization to save? — Mother Teresa
Worship Point: If you truly know Jesus as your Savior, and the work of Christ has begun in you to make you more human (compassionate, gracious, merciful, forgiving and loving) you will worship the God of the Universe Who will be faithful to complete that good work.
The sense of disorientation is one of the most common things that people talk to me about in counseling. People from all walks of life tell me that they have a sense of unreality, that something is out of whack, that they feel as if something indefinable is wrong with their lives. They have a sensation that they are not part of a whole, they are unrelated to what is going on around them. Unsure of who they are, confused as to their proper role as humans, they complain that they apparently are achieving less than they think they should. But they are not sure what they should be accomplishing! This sense of dissipation of life, wasting of energy, and squandering of opportunity is leading to frustration and concern. Worried about what they are, where they are, where they are going, what they are doing, they see life slipping away, days rushing into weeks and weeks becoming years without any feeling of achievement and ultimate success. (D. Stuart Briscoe; Parables of Luke: Patterns for Power, 127-8)
We alone of living beings have to cooperate in making ourselves, in gaining for ourselves true existence.
Even certain common idioms show our awareness of this truth. G.K. Chesterton once observed that you might slap a man on the shoulder who was drinking too heavily and say, “Be a man!”, but it would be pointless to tell a recalcitrant crocodile to “be a crocodile.” It can’t fail to be a crocodile. But we can fail to be men and women, fail to be human. For the human being is made in God’s image to love and serve his maker and his fellows. And if a thing fails of its essential purpose, it fails to exist. A fire which fails to burn is not a fire. A seat which collapses when you sit on it is for practical purposes no longer a seat.
That is why we need education while animals do not. A lamb will skip about on its legs soon after it is born. A human baby needs two or more years and a good deal of patient tuition to get to that stage. We have heard how a child brought up in India among wolves walked naturally on all fours. It is within the choice of any of us to walk or not to walk. A lamb separated from its mother and its flock and brought up as a domestic pet might make a very nice tame companion, but it would not begin to walk on two legs, even if you tried to teach it. Nor would it forget its bleating and learn to speak. Men and women can virtually turn into animals, but even faithful and friendly dogs and horses stop well short of turning into human beings. The better they are as dogs and horses, the more we like them.
And the more human beings are, the more we approve of them. Education is, or ought to be, the process that turns us into fully human beings. Which means that it will try to turn us into the beings God made us to be.
It is a grave thing to say, but “secular education” is a contradiction in terms. True education would try to mold us in the image of Christ. It would insist that no progress in any sphere of knowledge or activity can be a substitute for learning to know, to love, and to serve God. And such knowledge, such love, and such service are the gifts of grace. “By Grace ye are saved,” St. Paul said. By grace alone can we become human.
That is why civilization is so in danger of returning to the jungle. (Harry Blamires; Christian Truth, 71-2)
Gospel Application: Sight, revelation and understanding of Jesus’ identity and God’s agenda come ONLY by the Spirit of God to repentant, humble, broken humans who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. (See: Mt 11:25-30; 13:17; 16:13-20; Lk 2:26; 8:10; 10:21-22; 24:45; Jn 12:39-40; Rom 1:18-25; 3:11; 1 Cor 1:18-2:16; Eph 3:4-5; 4:18; Col 1:9; 2:2)
If you were in this happy [humbled] state, far from impatiently enduring those who are not, the immense stretch of your heart would make you indulgent and compassionate toward all the weaknesses which shrink selfish hearts. The more perfect we are, the more we get along with imperfection. The Pharisees could not bear the publicans and the women sinners, whom Jesus Christ treated with such gentleness and kindness. (Fenelon, Christian Perfection, 61)
The gospel is not at all what we would come up with on our own. I, for one, would expect to honor the virtuous over the profligate. I would expect to have to clean up my act before even applying for an audience with a Holy God. But Jesus told of God ignoring a fancy religious teacher and turning instead to an ordinary sinner who pleads, “God, have mercy.” Throughout the Bible, in fact, God shows a marked preference for “real” people over “good” people. In Jesus’ own words, “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Philip Yancey, What’s so Amazing About Grace?, 54)
He gave him reason and understanding. He made him essentially different from the animals. Animals live according to their lusts, their instincts, their desires; not so man. He was given a critical faculty. He was given the power of looking on at himself and of making estimates. He was able to curb and to control himself. He was different, not a part of creation but the lord of it. God, in other words, gave something of his own power. He could not have paid a greater compliment.
And not only that, God gave freedom. Man, as he was originally made, was absolutely free, with free will, complete freedom of choice. And not only that, God set before man a very glorious possibility. He told him that if he obeyed the commandments of God, he would be glorified and would never die at all.
That is how God made man and set him in this world. And God here argues that he has a perfect right, therefore, to lay down conditions for men and women and to make demands of them. There is nothing derogatory in that. There is nothing derogatory in asking them to acknowledge the lordship of the Almighty. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 140-1)
Spiritual Challenge: Look to Jesus (the Son of David) to become more and more like Jesus.
I am among those who believe that our Western civilization is on its way to perishing. It has many commendable qualities, most of which it has borrowed from the Christian ethic, but it lacks the element of moral wisdom that would give it permanence. Future historians will record that we of the twentieth century had intelligence enough to create a great civilization but not the moral wisdom to preserve it. (A.W. Tozer, Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 49)
The ascendance of the scientific method based solely in the physical realm over the past four hundred years presents a major problem: we have lost touch with the deep mystery at the center of existence–our consciousness. It was (under different names and expressed through different world-views) something known well and held close by pre-modern religions, but it was lost to our secular Western culture as we became increasingly enamored with the power of modern science and technology.
For all of the successes of Western civilization, the world has paid a dear price in terms of the most crucial component of existence–our human spirit. The shadow side of high technology–modern warfare and thoughtless homicide and suicide, urban blight, ecological mayhem, cataclysmic climate change, polarization of economic resources–is bad enough. Much worse, our focus on exponential progress in science and technology has left many of us relatively bereft in the realm of meaning and joy, and of knowing how our lives fit into the grand scheme of existence for all eternity. (Eben Alexander, M.D., Proof of Heaven, 152)
Hebrew understanding of “green pasture” (Psa 23) is a tuft of grass here and there that can be secured only by following the shepherd (Ray VanderLaan, Walking with God in the Desert: “Ears to Hear”)
Quotes to Note:
We should note that there are three kinds of speaking in these final verses. First, the crowds are amazed and speak about Jesus. They say, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel” (v. 33). True, but not good enough. At the very least, the miracles should have led them to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. . . .
Second, the Pharisees speak against Jesus. We saw the sad beginning of their opposition earlier when they called his claim to forgive sin blasphemy. Then they criticized him for eating with “sinners.” In the story of the raising of Jairus’ daughter, they laughed at him. Here they do the worst thing of all. Being helpless to deny the miracle, they attribute it to Satan’s power, thereby showing themselves to be closer to Satan than to Jesus. . . .
The third kind of speaking is speaking for Jesus, and it is illustrated by the testimonies of those who were healed. They had experienced a wonderful deliverance, and they were unable to keep silent about it. (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary–The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, 159)
The Good Shepherd