Jesus teaches us deep evangelical poverty and humility in today’s Gospel. Having understood something of the faith, these two blind men are led to cry out – not about what they understand – but that they need mercy for their blindness. It is important, no matter what we have learned from God’s revelation, to continue to cry out to God to heal our blindness. Faith provides certainty, but one that we hold fast to without evidence. Faith is certainly rich with light – but it is a light we can never keep for ourselves or possess fully. Faith makes us beggars while pride puffs us up with what we already know or think we know about God. Faith invites us to realize again that we are blind. It isn’t that we’ve never understood anything at all, but rather that what we’ve understood is always inadequate – always less than what and who God is.
Jesus teaches these two blind men an important lesson when they receive their sight. They must learn how to speak of Jesus without making it about themselves. The wonderful things God has done for them has to not become central to their teaching and message. Jesus must become the central Truth they preach. Even though they’ve recovered their sight, the fact that they can now see must take a back seat to what they can now see.
The Lord showed them that faith should not be expected as a result of health but health should be expected because of faith. The blind men saw because they believed; they did not believe because they saw. From this we understand that what is requested must be predicated on faith and that faith must not be exercised because of what has been obtained. If they should believe, he offers them sight. And he charges the believers to be silent, for it was exclusively the task of the apostles to preach.1
According to another interpretation, we might consider the people of the Jews and the people of the Gentiles as being prefigured in these two blind men. But this would not be appropriate. For would it be possible for the people of the Gentiles, before being enlightened, to declare Christ to be the Son of David, for they had not heard of the law or the prophets? For that reason, more properly it is understood concerning these two blind men that they did know from the law and the prophets that Christ is the Son of David. Both were blind, therefore, through their own unfaithfulness, for they were not yet able to see the true light, the only Son of God who was foretold in the law and the prophets. Bereft of the light of faith and covered by the veil of the law, they were being held in the gloom of blindness, according to the blessed apostle who says, “To this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord the veil is removed.” And again: “For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.” Therefore sight was restored to these blind men as soon as they expressed their faith in the Son of God. This shows that whoever from these two peoples should believe that the Son of God came to save humankind would receive knowledge of the true light as soon as the blindness of error is removed.2
For what purpose did it happen that, while they are crying out, he delays and questions them further? Here again Jesus is teaching us utterly to resist the glory that comes from the crowd. There was a house nearby. He led them into the house to heal them there in private. Then he charged them to tell no one.3
The blind men did not follow his instruction but immediately became preachers and evangelists. Though asked to hide what had been done, they revealed it. Remember that elsewhere he had said to a different hearer, “Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.” This does not run contrary to what he says here but complementary to it. For it teaches us that we should say nothing about ourselves. In fact, it even teaches that we should prevent those who want to praise us from doing so. But it also teaches that if the glory would be offered up to God, not only should we not prevent this but we should even command that it be done.4
- ON MATTHEW 9.9. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 186). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- TRACTATE ON MATTHEW 48.2. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 186–187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 32.1. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 187). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 32.1. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 187–188). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.