Isaiah 29:17-24; Matthew 9:27-31
We might assume, at first glance, that this is just another healing story among many in the gospels. There were numerous accounts of Jesus healing, as we know, and the gospel writers cited them as proof that Jesus was from God and was doing the work of God. As a miracle story, this account has some unique features, such as the fact that two blind men were healed rather than one, and that the healing took place inside a house rather than in an open public space. The important role that believing seems to play in this account is also noteworthy. In other miracle stories Jesus does not seem to require faith on the part of the person in need, but here he specifically questions the faith of the blind men. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” he asks them. He underscores the importance of their faith a second time when he makes a direct connection between their belief and their ability to receive healing: “According to your faith let it be done to you.” Only after he has tested their faith does the healing occur.
But if we are to understand the full significance of this healing miracle for those who witnessed it and for those who later read about it in Matthew’s gospel, we have to connect it back to the Hebrew scriptures and to the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. We have a hint of this in our first lesson from Isaiah 29 where we read, “On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see… the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah is talking about the promised day of the Lord. He is even more explicit a few chapters later when he writes concerning this day of promise, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy” (Isa 35: 5,6).
These texts would have been very familiar to the Jews of Jesus’ day and to the readers of Matthew’s gospel. They would have recognized immediately that the healing of these two blind men was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy and proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They would have seen that the belief that Jesus waits for and commends from these two men is belief not only in the ability of Jesus to bring about healing, but belief that the Golden Age promised by Isaiah was dawning in and through the person of Jesus. This is such powerfully good news that they can’t keep silent about it; they went out immediately and “spread the news about him throughout that district,” the gospel writer tells us (v. 31).
How might this text inspire our prayer today? I would suggest that it might summon us to open our eyes and to actively look for evidence in our own lives and in the lives of others that the kingdom of God is present among us. We are still in that Golden Age that Jesus inaugurated and God’s power is at work among us, but it requires eyes of faith to perceive it. Have you seen it and do you believe it? What signs have you witnessed of God’s coming among us? What evidence of God’s healing and life-giving power can you cite to others? Do you have some good news that you can spread throughout your own district? In the New Testament, seeing is a metaphor for believing. So we must ask ourselves, “What have I seen?” or “Do my eyes need to be opened?”
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