Matthew 20:29-34

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”

 Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-34

Again I am reminded that the author of Matthew probably had a copy of the gospel according to Mark in front of him as he wrote…and Matthew, for his own purposes, sought to improve Mark. Here Matthew has two blind men waiting by the road for Jesus while in Mark (Mark 10:46-52) there is only one. The long-held theory here is that Matthew was very aware that Jewish custom required two or three witnesses as confirmation of the truth.

That might not seem all that important but, to me, it is. On two levels. First, it is always helpful to remember that real live human beings doing the best they could to further faith in Jesus wrote the gospels. They weren’t perfect. The gospels aren’t perfect. Jesus is perfect. The writers, like us, are witnesses to what they have heard about Jesus and what they have seen in his effects on the lives of people. The Jesus story is told in stereo.

And second, Matthew himself, following Mark, becomes a confirming witness. Soon Luke would follow, then John. They would all be writing on the heels of the work of Paul and all of the other first century witnesses to the rise of the Christian movement. They would become a part of the great cloud of witnesses, stretching back to the first words put to paper and ahead to you and me. Most importantly, they spoke up. They didn’t keep the good news to themselves.

Two blind men are sitting on the side of the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” What did they have to lose? What other hope did they have? They heard that Jesus might be helpful to them and they weren’t going to let the opportunity to seek his help pass them by.

But the crowd around them – the crowd who could clearly see what was going on – sternly ordered them to be quiet. I wonder why. Why was the crowd bothered by their cries for help? Was it a Potemkin village moment – like cities clearing out the homeless ahead of a Super Bowl? Did they find the blind men to be an embarrassment to the dignity of dusty village of Jericho?

Why did the crowds shush the blind men? How did their pleas for help bother any of them? Was anyone else made blind by their cries? Did anyone in the crowd have anything to lose?

The story could read differently. The whole crowd could have joined the witness of the two blind men. The whole crowd could have directed Jesus’ attention to their hopeless plight. But they didn’t. They sternly ordered them to be quiet. But Jesus heard them anyway.

He walked through the crowd, past the crowd, and healed the men’s blindness. Jesus asked them, “What do you want me to do for you?” and he honored their request.

Remember this story the next time you find yourself hot under the collar because of the voices you hear pleading for justice and healing and full inclusion in human community. Will you shush them or will you join the cloud of witnesses advocating for them? You don’t even have to wonder about what Jesus might do in the same situation.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you hear the cries of the helpless and you help. You hear the voices of those on the edge and you come to their cause. We hear those voices all around us – those who fear deportation, those caught in addiction, those frightened in their own neighborhoods of those who ought to help them. So many voices, many too afraid to speak up, others afraid of what might happen as they refuse to remain silent. Open our eyes. Heal our blindness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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4 Responses to “Matthew 20:29-34”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Wow! thank you for opening my eyes!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    ouch! Thank you.

  3. georgene Thompson Says:

    Is there a way I could share this on FB?

    • Kelley Says:

      Hi Georgene, Yes, you can share on FB. Just below the advertisements following the devotion, above these replies are options for sharing. Click on the Facebook box and follow any prompts to share devotion.

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