Flashback Episode — Loving to Heal: Matthew 20:29-34

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As we move forward through the gospels looking at Jesus’ miracles, we come to the last normal miracle that the gospel writers record prior to the crucifixion. When I say normal, this means that it is a miracle that prompts those present to give praise to God and it’s a miracle where someone involved displays a level of faith. While there have been miracles that fall outside of these boundaries before this point in Jesus’ ministry, from this point forward leading to the cross, we don’t see the normal details of faith and praise like we do in most of the miracles we’ve focused in on previously.

Also, as I shared in the previous episode, the miracle in this episode is often listed as being parallel to the miracle we focused on in the last episode. However, while there are similarities, I think enough differences are present to call this a separate event.

Let’s read what happened, and discover what we can learn from this event. Our passage and miracle for this episode is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 20, and we will read it from the Good News Translation. Starting in verse 29, Matthew tells us that:

29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd was following. 30 Two blind men who were sitting by the road heard that Jesus was passing by, so they began to shout, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

31 The crowd scolded them and told them to be quiet. But they shouted even more loudly, “Son of David! Have mercy on us, sir!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked them.

33 “Sir,” they answered, “we want you to give us our sight!”

34 Jesus had pity on them and touched their eyes; at once they were able to see, and they followed him.

In this passage and miracle, this sounds a lot like the previous miracle. When comparing these two miracles, both miracles happen just outside of Jericho, both miracles have the crowd wanting to silence those desiring healing, both miracles have a similar dialog, and both miracles relate to restoring eyesight. I can definitely understand how many people would connect these events into being descriptive of one event.

However, when we look at the details in each miracle, we discover some interesting distinctions. Unlike the miracle from our previous episode, this miracle happens when Jesus and His disciples are leaving Jericho rather than when they are arriving, and in this miracle, we learn about two men verses the one man in the previous miracle. These distinctions alone suggest two very similar events, but there is one other distinction present. In our miracle from our last episode, Jesus simply commands the man to see again, while in this miracle, we see Jesus touching the men’s eyes in order to restore their sight.

In my mind, these are two similar, but distinctly different, miracles. Since the gospel writers had to scale back what they included in their gospel letters because of space concerns, it wouldn’t surprise me if Matthew, having read Mark and or Luke, decided to place a different miracle in his gospel story than was written in these other two gospels. While there is a lot of overlap between the gospels, there are also very distinct details in each. It is also interesting to note that every one of the four gospels includes a miracle that is unique to it. Each gospel has a miracle included that the other three gospel writers chose to exclude.

However, what can we learn from this miracle that isn’t the same as what we learned in our last episode. While there are plenty of shared themes, a theme that this miracle shows that the other one doesn’t comes at the start of verse 34, where Matthew tells us that, “Jesus had pity on them”.

Nowhere in our previous miracle do we see Jesus showing pity on the man, even if the idea is present. I imagine Matthew wants to draw our attention onto the importance that Jesus loved those who He healed. This detail might be easy to dismiss, but it is powerful when we stop to focus on it.

When Jesus healed people, He had no ulterior motive. There was nothing in Jesus’ miracle working that even hinted at Jesus desiring followers, fame, or wealth because of His help. Jesus helped because He loved, and because Jesus loved, we see Him help.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be like Him, and being like Jesus also includes loving like Jesus loved, living like Jesus lived, and helping others like Jesus helped. While we might not have the ability to miraculously return the sight to a blind person, this shouldn’t stop us from helping where and when we can. And this also should not stop us from letting the Holy Spirit use us where God needs us. Don’t ever discount the possibility that the Holy Spirit temporarily gives you the ability to do a miracle to help someone in need.

God has called us to lean on Him and on the Holy Spirit for direction, help, and guidance in our life – and this is exactly what Jesus did. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we see examples of Him leaning on the Holy Spirit to work miracles, and when the disciples were sent out in pairs, they worked through the Holy Spirit as well.

In this miracle, we see faith demonstrated by the one being healed, and we see Jesus love those He healed. Jesus loves you and me, and He is actively working, in heaven and through the Holy Spirit, to bring us safely home with Him for eternity!

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Keep seeking God first in your life and intentionally lean on Him. Place your trust, faith, hope, and belief in Jesus and in what He has done for us and in the work He currently is doing for us as well. While we are alive on this earth, God has a mission and a plan for our lives, and I’m positive He wants us to walk with Him on the journey He has set before us.

Also, always pray and study the Bible for yourself to keep growing closer to God each and every day. Learn to filter what you read and hear through the pages and truth contained in the Bible, and trust that God has kept His message safe throughout history. Above all, trust in what Jesus has done for you and in what He is doing for you as He leads all of us towards eternity.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of Miracles – Episode 44: As Jesus was leaving Jericho, we see a miracle very similar to one that occurred before Jesus arrived in the city, but one where we get to see a glimpse of Jesus’ heart and His love for those who needed healing.

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