The Matthew Series 11. Following the Healer's Footsteps
Please turn to Matthew 9:27. Let’s read together from verse 27 to verse 31.
Picture with me. Jesus had just arrived at Capernaum when he was almost crushed by the crowd of that swarmed to see him. Out of this crowd emerged the synagogue leader, Jairus, begging Jesus to come and heal his sick daughter. Jesus goes with him, and along the way two things happen. Firstly, a woman who had been sick for many years was healed just by touching the hem of Jesus’ cloak; and secondly, Jairus’ daughter dies.
But that’s not the end of that story. Jesus continues to Jairus’ house and, taking the little girl by the hand, raises her to life.
This story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter to life and healing the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years are quite well-known stories.
Then you have our story for tonight. It starts with Jesus leaving Jairus’ house. And as Jesus went out from Jairus’ house, two blind men followed him.
The first thing I want you to notice about this story is that these blind men followed after him, calling after him, and Jesus didn’t stop.
Do you ever feel like one of these blind men? You know what your struggle is. You know that Jesus has the cure. And so you go to Him, asking for His help and He seems to simply ignore you. Maybe for 2 months now you’ve been struggling with depression, and you’ve been asking Jesus to change your heart and your mind and He doesn’t seem to be answering. Maybe for 2 years now you’ve been struggling with loneliness and you’ve been asking Him for a friend and even though you are persistent in your praying, He seems to be walking ahead of you without hearing you.
And yet we learn from our passage tonight that just because your miracle isn’t immediate, doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. Keep following Jesus. These men could have stopped after 20 steps – they could have stopped after 20 cries – but they kept stepping, and they kept asking.
Again, notice that these men followed Jesus. They didn’t just hope for a miracle, they pursued the Source of miracles.
Many of you have given up pursuing Jesus for a miracle many years ago. Long time ago there was something you saw that you needed, or something you wanted, and you asked Jesus for it – maybe cried out for it – but then gave up. You didn’t give up wanting, or needing, but you gave up pursuing Jesus for it.
And you tell yourself you haven’t stopped pursuing, because look at you: you’re in Church! You still pray, you still read your Bible, you’re not a backslidden Christian. But you’ve given up pursuing. You used to call out often, ‘Jesus, please help me with this – Jesus, please change this in me – Jesus, please change my heart about this – Jesus, please give me this thing I need.’ But you’ve sat back down and grown comfortable with waiting for Jesus to do His great work with someone else, some other group of people, but not here, not with you.
Sometimes Jesus allowed those requesting healing to wait a while – this wasn’t the only time in Scripture. There was a level of testing here, a level of checking: Do they really believe I can do this?
Why does God sometimes call us to wait? What’s the point? Why did Jesus leave these men to keep pursuing and keep asking? Was He just playing?
Of course not! As they waited, they were changed. Their faith was being refined in the wait, it’s a method of God our Father teaching discipline to His children. And so ‘As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees’ (Hebrews 12).
I want to encourage you: If you’ve given up pursuing Jesus and grown comfortable in your blindness because you hated the discipline of waiting – Take a new grip with your tired hands, strengthen your weak knees: Go again to seeking; go again to prayer; go again to the Lord and ask Him to continue His work of holiness and healing in you. If you have to wait a while, remember that doesn’t mean God is ignoring you – as you wait, you’re changed. God isn’t only interested in giving you what you want; He’s even more interested in who you become. So wait patiently, ask eagerly, grow steadily.
The second thing I want you to notice about this story is what these two blind men are saying: ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’
Let’s look at that title. The title ‘Son of David’ was a messianic title – it was a title that was given to the one who was the Messiah.
The first prophecy that there would be a great king in the line of David with divine qualities who would prosper God’s people comes from 2 Samuel 7 where the LORD gave this promise to David: ‘When your days are over, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom…’
From that point on, many of the prophesies relating to a Messiah link him to David – He’s called the Son of David.
So when people referred to Jesus as the Son of David, they meant that they believed that He was the long-awaited Deliverer. By calling Jesus ‘Son of David’, they were expressing their faith that He was the promised Messiah and therefore able to do what was expected of the Messiah – healing and more. By calling Him ‘Son of David’ they reminded themselves of the promises of who the Messiah would be and what He would be able to do.
It’s very important for us to remind ourselves of Who we are speaking to when we pray. Why? Because the motivation for your persevering in asking for your miracle will be knowing who you’re asking it from. Who is Jesus to you?
And be careful in your quick answer. Some of us only call Jesus ‘Lord’ because that’s how we’ve always heard Him referred to by others.
When I was growing up, my parents sometimes asked me to say grace before we ate. So I would bow my little head, and say as fast as I knew how: ‘Je-lo-Jesus-thankyouforthefoodAMEN!’ – the prayer I’d been taught to pray. It literally took me years to figure out that ‘Je-lo-Jesus’ was supposed to be ‘Dear Lord Jesus’. But in all those years, and for many afterwards, He was neither dear to me, nor Lord.
I know you know the right words to say, the right titles to use – but who is Jesus to you really?
Is He simply a fairy-tale character? Kind of like Father Christmas? If you find yourself disappointed in God because He hasn’t given you what you asked for, you might see Him as that.
Is He simply a historical figure? A great man in history. A wise man from the past. Kind of like a millennia old Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi? Many people see this as a reverent way of looking at Jesus, but it’s not only untrue, but it’s dangerous. Because a wise man from the past is to be remembered and respected, but not really obeyed.
Do you see Him as divine – but distant? Yes, He can do all things; but no, He isn’t ‘walking on my street’. He’s far away, concerned with many other matters, and unavailable to me?
Or is He to you a very close and a very dear friend? Is He your ever-present help in time of need?
When you call Jesus ‘Lord’, do you say it with an expectation that He is able to do what is expected of the Lord? Or do we simply say it out of habit?
Let’s go on.
Verse 28: When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you.’
Jesus continued to walk, with these blind men and others in tow, until he reached the house he was heading to. Then he went inside, and finally turned to these two men and spoke to them. And what Jesus asks them will show us what is really important to Jesus. If you want what’s important to Jesus to be important to you, then listen to what Jesus asks them.
Firstly, he asks them a question: Do you believe that I am able to do this?
I am very interested in the variety of methods Jesus used in His healings and various miracles. Just glance through the last two chapters and you’ll see that in one case, he reaches out and touches the man with a contagious disease, and heals him. Then he speaks a word from a distance, and heals another man in response to not his faith or request but the faith and request of his master. Then he calms a storm with a word; forgives then heals a paralytic let down to him through a hole in the roof, heals a woman without a touch, a word, or even a look or an acknowledgement when she reaches out and touches the hem of his cloak. Then he returns life into a dead girl with the touch of his hand.
He didn’t have a ‘method’, a ‘style’, or a ‘type’. Jesus seemed to exude power and authority over every cause of pain in the human experience. And let me just say; Jesus possesses power and authority over every cause of pain in your human experience too.
But what was common to all of these miracles was this: faith – trust that Jesus is able. The leper came to Jesus in Matthew 8:2 and said: Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean. The Centurion was commended by Jesus because of his faith: I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. When the disciples became afraid of the storm, Jesus rebuked them because of their lack of faith: You of little faith, why are you so afraid? The paralytic was healed because his friends had faith: When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, your sins are forgiven.’ When the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched Jesus, she was healed because of her faith: Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter…your faith has healed you.’ Finally, just before this incident, when Jairus is informed that his daughter is in fact dead, Jesus turns to him and says: Don’t be afraid, have faith.
Brothers and sisters, I don’t know why God has chosen it so, but the currency of God’s kingdom is faith. It’s not biblical knowledge, it’s not Church attendance, it’s not ministry activity, it’s not tithe-giving. Those things are not bad, but they’re not what God is most concerned about.
The currency of God’s kingdom is faith. So what is faith? Let’s not get to ‘Christianeze’ about this: Faith is Trust; complete trust or confidence in God as a Person: Trust that God is able; trust that God is faithful; trust that what God says, He can do, and what He says, He will do.
Jesus cared about the faith of these two men. ‘Do you believe (have faith) that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you.’
And you and I think to ourselves, ‘If that’s true, probably only one of my eyes would have been healed. Or maybe they would have gone skew – squint. If it was done according to my faith, I’d be in trouble, because my faith isn’t great. I don’t have a great deal of faith currency in the bank of heaven.’
Faith is not a hard thing, my friends. Faith is not a storehouse of good-feelings. Faith is exceptionally simple.
Picture this: When a boy goes hiking with his dad and reaches a ridge, he follows closely on his father’s footsteps. He slips and falls and grabs onto a root coming out of the cliff face. He looks down at the rocks waiting far below to take his life. He looks above at the hand of his strong, loving father who says: ‘Grab my hand, son, and let me help you up.’ The boy doesn’t need to well up a store-house of good-feelings towards his dad to receive the help he needs. He simply needs to say, ‘Yes, dad’ and grab and wait.
My friend, because God is a relational Being, He cares about your heart towards Him more than your work for Him. Maybe you think to yourself, ‘If I studied my Bible better, God would favour me better. If I did more Church activities, God would favour me better. If I tithed properly (or tithed at all), then God would turn a kinder eye towards me.’
Now, my friend, I won’t say those things aren’t important – but they are not most important. Before any of that, God wants you to trust Him. What you can do now is turn your heart towards Him in trust. Simply say to God in the quiet of your own heart: God, right here, right now, I trust You. Don’t look for or wait for the feeling – choose and speak.
Let’s go on. Verse 30: And their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’ But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.’
For those who are somewhat new to the books of the gospels, this seems like a really strange command from Jesus. Why would Jesus tell these people to hide this great miracle? What evangelist today would do a miracle and tell people to be quiet about it: Usually it’s done on a stage or for TV. Didn’t Jesus want everyone to know about what He could do?
This is actually a pretty common theme through the gospels. Time and time and time again Jesus would do his miracles quietly, in secret as much as possible, and tell those He healed to be quiet about it. Sometimes he would only take his three closest friends to witness the miracle (like in the story of Jairus’ daughter), sometimes he would pull the man to be healed aside into a quiet corner to heal them (like in the story of the blind mute), sometimes he went into a house to do the miracle (like in this story).
Why was Jesus so concerned about privacy? Was He scared it wouldn’t work? Was He a fraud and like a bad magician needed a small audience to fool?
Of course not, because we know of many cases where the miracle was done before massive audiences, or crushing crowds. And there were few instances where Jesus told the healed: Go and show yourself to the priests; or, Go and tell the villages around.
The reason for this secrecy is found in Mark 1. Here we see the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy and, as was his custom, telling the man not to tell anyone. “Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone…Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.”
While Jesus exuded power and authority over every pain linked to human experience, Jesus didn’t come primarily as a miracle worker but a message bringer. We know this from Luke 4:42-43 ‘At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”’
Take this as a principle for your life: At every point in your life, Jesus is more interested in you receiving the message of the kingdom than you receiving the miracle of comfort. Jesus cares about your comfort, but He came for your redemption.
So, Jesus commanded again and again that the recipients of his miracles be quiet about them because He knew the hearts of people. He knew that people can get so distracted by the gift-wrapping that they forget to check for the gift inside.
You and I can become more concerned with our miracle, our comfort, than with the Giver of good gifts. And He didn’t want to get boxed in. So, He told people to be quiet; at least, until His redemptive work was done. Jesus said to His closest disciples after they saw Him transfigured on the mount not to tell anyone what they had seen until He had risen from the dead.
But, now! The time for quietness is over. The time of concealment is ended. Christ has overcome; His work is finished; we live in the last days. The commandment since Jesus’ death and resurrection is to Go, Tell.
My friends, let me leave you then on this point: The time has come to share your testimony. The time has come to tell others about what God has done for you. If it’s a healing – tell of the healing. If it’s a heart change – tell of the heart change. If it’s a bondage that you’ve been freed from – tell of the freedom. If it’s a broken marriage restored – tell of the restoration. It is God’s will and your great joy to tell others about what God has done.
Maybe you say, ‘Well, I’ve never done that and it’ll be weird if I start now.’ No, it won’t! But if you’re nervous, don’t just be quiet: seek a fresh miracle and tell of that one when it happens. Don’t tell me you don’t need a change in your life that only God can bring. God’s not done with you yet. He’s got great plans for you. He’s got great plans to work in you. Lay your struggle before Jesus; pursue the Messiah, go to the Lord asking for His mercy. Take up afresh the cries of your heart when you first believed and resolve to not stop following Him until He answers.
And then tell broadly of the work that He begins and finishes in your life, in your finance, in your friendship, in your marriage, in your children, in your school, in your office. Make Him famous, because as He walked this earth He could be crowded, but He left and sent the Holy Spirit so that anyone who needed Him could turn to Him, and anyone who would turn to Him can have Him.
So the question to leave you with tonight is this: Will you follow in the healer’s footsteps? Will you pursue Him with your needs? And having received, will you go and tell?