Christmas is a time when we celebrate the miracle of the incarnation. We stand in awe of the grandeur of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us and marvel that we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). This miraculous Baby born of a virgin in the cold stall of a Bethlehem stable grew up and went about performing many miracles, doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). In fact, the last verse in John’s gospel instructs us that Jesus did so much that if all was written down in detail, he supposed that the entire world could not contain the books that could be written (John 21:25)! For this month’s newsletter we will focus on the last miracle (with the exception of the healing of Malchus’ ear when Peter cut it off at Jesus’ arrest) that our Lord performed during His incarnate earthly ministry, that of the healing of two blind men as recorded in Matthew 20:29-34.
Are You One Who Follows OR A True Follower?…Jesus and His disciples were leaving the city of Jericho and a large crowd was following behind. It was not unusual for the Lord to be surrounded by a multitude. Hardly anyone in the region had been untouched by Jesus’ miracle ministry. They had either been touched by the Lord themselves, knew of someone who had been healed, or had at least heard reports of the mighty power displayed by this Man from Galilee. If you were sick in any way or had a family member or friend who was plagued in their body, it was no secret that next to Jesus is where you wanted to be. In Bible days, as in our present time, there was no shortage of sick and infirmed and they were drawn to Jesus like a magnet in hopes of being cured of their malady. The Lord was also known to do miracles of multiplication in the food department. Mark 8:1-9 records that Jesus had compassion upon the large crowds and fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish. There were even enough leftovers to fill up seven large baskets. An even greater number, five thousand, were fed in John 6:1-14 when Christ multiplied five loaves and two fish. So much bounty was had on that day that 12 baskets were filled with the remnants! Then, like now, there was no shortage on the poor in need of sustenance. If you were hungry, next to Jesus was where it was at. Heal the sick, feed the hungry, and an entourage was sure to follow. Jesus knew this. He knew what was in the heart of every man (John 2:24-25). He knew there were some who only followed because they saw miracles or needed miracles. He knew there were some who followed simply looking for something to fill their bellies (John 6:26). (*And knowing this didn’t keep Him from healing more sick people and feeding more hungry people.*) Indeed, not all those who follow are true followers. Those who follow are looking for something, anything that will meet their physical, emotional, and material needs in this life. True followers realize there is a spiritual need that is deeper than any other and that only Jesus can meet that need. Those who follow may profess allegiance to Christ but true followers have fruit that give evidence to a genuine commitment to the Lord. Those who follow may experience some genuine blessings of God in this life, yet the more blessings they experience from His hand only add to the condemnation they will receive when they hear “depart” (Matt. 11:23-24; Matt. 7:21-23). True followers will experience hardship, persecution, and endure hatred from this world, yet that which the devil meant for their harm will be redeemed by God and will merely add splendor to their crown to lay at the feet of their Lord who welcomes them with the greeting “well done, My good and faithful servant” (2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 10:22; James 1:12; Matt. 25:23). Those who follow care about saving or finding their life in this world, true followers deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus, losing their life for Christ’s sake that they may have life eternal (Luke 9:23-25). So which are you? One of those who follow or a true follower indeed?
Whatever Good Sense You Have Comes From God!…Matthew 20:30 tells us that in the midst of the multitudes following Jesus were two blind men sitting by the road. Somehow they heard that Jesus was passing by. Maybe it’s because someone told them directly. Maybe it’s because the sense of hearing of the blind is often more keen than the sense of hearing for sighted people and they indirectly heard through the clamoring clatter that Jesus was passing by. Whatever the case, however they sensed the nearness of the Lord, it was the grace of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that truly gave them the ability, the sense, the good sense, to be drawn unto Christ. If your spiritual eyes have been opened, if you have been convicted of your sin, if you have responded in repentance and placed faith in Jesus as the only Savior, if you are a true follower of Christ and a genuine child of God, then you ought to lift up your voice and your heart, soul, mind, and strength in praise to the Lord who has awakened your spiritual sense, drawn you to Himself, given you the capacity to repent, and has chosen you for His glory (John 16:8; John 6:44; 2 Tim. 2:25; John 15:16).
The Blind “See” Jesus Better Than The Sighted!…Upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, the blind men lifted up their voices, loudly declaring and beseeching, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David (Matt. 20:29)!” That phrase probably didn’t take long for them to say or for you to read, but there is immense profundity in those eight words. First, they confessed Jesus to be Lord. “Lord” is a title that means “boss.” Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16)! He is God and He is boss! He is to be obeyed, absolutely obeyed. There are many people who claim to know Christ as Lord and yet care very little to read His Word to know what He commands, and care even less about obeying what He commands. To these Jesus asks the question, “why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not do what I say?” He goes on to declare that these false converts who have perhaps deceived even themselves will ultimately be like a house built on the sand that collapses into great ruin (Luke 6:46-49). The belief that there are those who know Jesus as Savior but do not know Him as Lord is unscriptural. In fact, the Bible teaches that all, even those that never knew Him as Savior, will know Him as Lord, but does not teach that there will be people who truly knew Him as Savior who had no concern for acknowledging His Lordship (Philippians 2:9-11)! Second, the blind men asked for God’s mercy. They did not profess the height of their good works nor the depth of their need as a reason for God to touch them. They appealed to the only factor that can give any man any hope at all, the mercy of God. Every member of the human race, from the likes of Billy Graham to the likes of Adolf Hitler, has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). There is none of us righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). There is none who does good or even seeks for God (Rom. 3:11-12). All of us deserve hell and the mercy of God is our only hope. Finally, the blind men called Jesus the Son of David. The religious leaders, who had studied the Word of God intensely, who had vast sections of it memorized, who laboriously copied the pages of Scripture by hand (before the days of Xerox), largely failed to see that Jesus was the Messiah promised by and pointed to from Genesis through Malachi. Yet, these blind men saw it clearly. The fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, the hope of their healing and, more importantly, their salvation stood before them and they did not fail to recognize it.
Do You Think Of Yourself As Being Valuable OR As Being Valued?…The crowd following Jesus tried to get the blind men to quiet down. Yet they cried out all the more, fearing God more than men (Matt. 10:28). The Lord stopped, called them, and asked what they wanted Him to do for them. They replied that they wanted Him to open their eyes. Jesus’ response was prefaced with a familiar phrase telling the reader that He was “moved with compassion.” Christ would touch their eyes, in such a powerful way that their sight would immediately be restored; but Matthew wants to be sure the reader knows that the source of this miracle was the compassion of God, not the faith of the men, not their virtuous deeds, not the admiration or fame that Jesus could glean from putting on a “show” with two blind men, only the compassion of God. We tend to think of ourselves as valuable, so valuable that God should surely want to save us. We have many messages come our way telling us to believe in ourselves and to find the champion within. Yet, a more biblical way is not to think of ourselves as valuable, but rather as valued. What’s the difference? Perhaps an illustration will help. If I had a truck loaded with bars of gold (which I don’t), I could take them and trade them in most anywhere for thousands upon thousands of dollars (perhaps millions and millions of dollars depending upon the size of the truck and the exchange rate for gold—a dollar’s not worth what it used to be!). Gold is valuable. Now, suppose I take my Papa’s Bible to the same exchange houses I took the gold to and asked them what they would give me for it. Most would probably give nothing. Some might give me the fair market value of $20 to $30. None would give me what I think it’s worth. None would agree with me that my Papa’s Bible is worth more than the gold. My Papa’s Bible is valued by me. Did Jesus heal the blind men because they were valuable, having intrinsic value in and of themselves or did He heal them because His compassion valued the blind men and wanted to see them whole? Let’s make it more personal, does God save us because we are valuable, people so intrinsically precious in and of ourselves that we are worth dying for, or does He save us due to His mercy and compassion that has valued us even though we are unworthy, that loves us even though we are unlovable, that died for us even though we should have been the ones to be executed? Thanks be to God for His mercy and compassion! Thanks be to God we aren’t valuable, but we are valued! Thanks be to God we are saved by grace and not by works! A Miracle Indeed!