Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matthew has said wonderful words about Jesus wanting to help bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. But actions speak louder than words. Solid evidence would bolster Matthew’s kind compliment. Is a bruised reed or smoldering wick nearby for Jesus to help? A prospect filling the bill was quickly brought to Jesus.
Matt. 12:22a (Holman) Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and
unable to speak. . .
Demon-possessed, blind, unable to speak–definitely a bruised reed and a smoldering wick. In Jesus’ day, all illness was attributed to Satan. Jesus could have corrected this misconception, but the ancients knew too little about germs and disease for medical concepts discovered later to be of consequential help.
Birth defects have natural, physical causes. My sister is deaf, my grandson has autism, I have cousins with handicaps. They all are in families that love Jesus.
Handicaps are not demon-possession. Demons may rarely play a part–no one can speak with absolute authority to any particular situation–but any instance caused by demons would tend to be easier to remedy than if the cause is physical. We have God’s delegated authority over evil spiritual forces, and can thwart them.
The man in our text faced two negatives and two positives. Negative one, he was demon-possessed. God is not the only extraterrestrial force at work in our world. Satan also works on people. Paul referred to “the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient” (Eph. 2:2b). Jesus said, while people sleep, the enemy comes, sowing weeds among the wheat (Matthew 13:25).
Absolute human independence does not exist in this world. Individuals, whether mindful of it or not, are living life yielded to either God or Satan. The choice is stark. We can surrender to One who loves us or to one who abuses us.
Negative two, he was blind and unable to speak. Significant interaction with people was cut off. He couldn’t see to help himself or ask for help, couldn’t see the Savior or sing about Him. These two negatives had seemingly left the man helpless and hopeless, but fortunately, two strong positives rescued him.
Matthew 12:22b . . . was brought to Him.
Positive one, he had a friend. The demon-possessed, blind, speechless man was brought to Jesus by someone who had compassion on him and had faith in Jesus’ power. Unbelievers desperately need family and friends to care for them like this. We must do our part to bring the hopeless and helpless to Jesus.
We have to believe Jesus can change people’s very nature. We also have to have compassion on the lost. Our winning them falters in the selfish moment our thoughts switch from caring for them to worrying about what they think of us.
Matthew 12:22c He healed Him, so that the man could both speak and see.
Positive two, he had a Friend. Nearby was Jesus, eager, ready, able to help. Without Jesus, this world would be a Pandemonium, the all demons city which served as the capital of Hell in Milton’s epic work “Paradise Lost.” God did not forsake our planet to Satanic rule. In a personal divine invasion, Jesus launched a counter offensive to reclaim what was stolen from Him in Eden.
He woos us to Himself, appealing through nature, history, circumstances, conscience, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, believers. To those who respond to His appeals, Jesus gives spiritual gifts typified by the physical healing in our text. Jesus gave the man eyes to see His healer, and a voice to praise Him. Similarly, when people believe in Jesus, they see light, and can talk about Him to others.
Matthew 12:23 And all the crowds were astounded and said, “Perhaps this is the Son of David!”
The crowd was beside itself with wonder, yet unable to commit. Yes or no, is Jesus the Messiah promised to descend from King David? Unable to make up their mind, they faltered. Not even a miracle working prophet could overcome their preconceived notions as to what Messiah would be like. They saw a gentle carpenter, wise words, loving eyes, powerful hands–traits too unlike what they were expecting: pomp, war, bloodshed, rattling swords, an army with banners.
Indecision in spiritual matters is crippling. For unbelievers, a pet sin can cause a hiccup. Please don’t let a momentary thrill send you to everlasting pain.
Often the taunts of others make unbelievers reluctant to commit to Christ. Public opinion polls shouldn’t matter in this matter. Follow Jesus if every human hates and hoots us. Don’t do as the most do, but as the best do (Henry). May God help us be ashamed of being ashamed of Him and afraid of being afraid of others.
Unbelievers are not alone in spiritual hesitation. Many believers refuse to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. The Bible’s first public invitation was directed not to unbelievers, but to God’s people. Moses, angry at seeing the golden calf, divided the crowd, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me” (Exodus 32:26b).
God’s people heard a second stern public invitation from Joshua. “Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship” (Joshua 24:14b-15a).
God’s people were targeted by a third public invitation, this one from Elijah on Mount Carmel, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him” (I Kings 18:21a). The nation was in an absurd position. The image drawn by Elijah was of a person trying to walk on two limbs of a tree at the same time. This can’t be done for long without falling. God’s own people were spiritually wobbling and weaving, staggering as if drunk.
Three public invitations, one message–don’t be a between-ite (Spurgeon). Jesus deserves better than indecision. Everyone should run to Him with heart ablaze for Him. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Devotion is successful only when wholehearted, no “perhaps” intermixed. Our resolve has to be all-absorbing, unflinching. We must be totally convinced inside, unanimous within, or we will waver.
Hesitant believers know their attitude is sin, but often refuse to settle the issue. Some won’t yield to baptism, tithe, devote Sundays to worship, set aside time for daily devotions, yield to God’s call on their life to full-time ministry, or find their spiritual gift in order to fill their precise God-intended place of service.
When do we intend to settle these matters? Have we written “full holiness” on a future date in our calendars? Many believers are fully committed tomorrow.
In their dreams, their future is spiritually perfect, but tomorrow does not count. God keeps score today, now, immediately. It is never too soon to do right.
Delay smuggles too many dangers into our lives. Each day we dally outside total surrender to Christ is a loss, a day we miss out on God’s best blessings for us.
Never lurks in delay. Postponing duty makes it ever harder for us to select the right choice. Procrastination has a hardening effect in spiritual matters.
A person’s lifelong spiritual direction can be compressed into a fleeting moment of decision or indecision. The opportune moment when every succeeding moment is forevermore drastically affected can be mishandled. The choice of today often becomes the choice of tomorrow and forever.
It behooves every believer to be able to state and act on our purpose. Every believer should with conviction be saying by word and deed, “The goal of my life is to please God.” Keep the compass true. God spare us from aimless spirituality. Meanderers never win races. People going nowhere spiritually always get there.
I read an elderly man’s assessment of the aimless life he had lived. Looking back down the corridor of his life he said, “I have thrown away a life.” God spare us all from this verdict. Put on the front burner serving God. Set it in our sights.