In these verses we have an account of two more miracles wrought together by our Saviour.
I. The giving of sight to two blind men, Matt. 9:27-31. Christ is the Fountain of light as well as life; and as, by raising the dead, he showed himself to be the same that at first breathed into man the breath of life, so, by giving sight to the blind, he showed himself to be the same that at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Observe,
1. The importunate address of the blind men to Christ. He was returning from the ruler’s house to his own lodgings, and these blind men followed him, as beggars do, with their incessant cries, Matt. 9:27. He that cured diseases so easily, so effectually, and, withal, at so cheap a rate, shall have patients enough. As for other things, so he is famed for an Oculist. Observe,
(1.) The title which these blind men gave to Christ; Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. The promise made to David, that of his loins the Messiah should come, was well known, and the Messiah was therefore commonly called the Son of David. At this time there was a general expectation of his appearing; these blind men know, and own, and proclaim it in the streets of Capernaum, that he is come, and that this is he; which aggravates the folly and sin of the chief priests and Pharisees who denied and opposed him. They could not see him and his miracles, but faith comes by hearing. Note, They who, by the providence of God, are deprived of bodily sight, may yet, by the grace of God, have the eyes of their understanding so enlightened, as to discern those great things of God, which are hid from the wise and prudent.
(2.) Their petition, Have mercy on us. It was foretold that the Son of David should be merciful (Ps. 72:12, 13), and in him shines the tender mercy of our God, Luke 1:78. Note, Whatever our necessities and burthens are, we need no more for supply and support, than a share in the mercy of our Lord Jesus. Whether he heal us or no, if he have mercy on us, we have enough; as to the particular instances and methods of mercy, we may safely and wisely refer ourselves to the wisdom of Christ. They did not each of them say for himself, Have mercy on me, but both for one another, Have mercy on us. Note, It becomes those that are under the same affliction, to concur in the same prayers for relief. Fellow-sufferers should be joint-petitioners. In Christ there is enough for all.
(3.) Their importunity in this request; they followed him, crying. It seems, he did not take notice of them at first, for he would try their faith, which he knew to be strong; would quicken their prayers, and make his cures the more valued, when they did not always come at the first word; and would teach us to continue instant in prayer, always to pray, and not to faint: and, though the answer do not come presently, yet to wait for it, and to follow providence, even in those steps and out goings of it which seem to neglect or contradict our prayers. Christ would not heal them publicly in the streets, for this was a cure he would have kept private (Matt. 9:30), but when he came into the house, they followed him thither, and came to him. Note, Christ’s doors are always open to believing and importunate petitioners; it seemed rude in them to rush into the house after him, when he desired to retire; but, such is the tenderness of our Lord Jesus, that they were not more bold than welcome.
2. The confession of faith, which Christ drew from them upon this occasion. When they came to him for mercy, he asked them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? Note, Faith is the great condition of Christ’s favours. They who would receive the mercy of Christ, must firmly believe the power of Christ. What we would have him do for us, we must be fully assured that he is able to do. They followed Christ, and followed him crying, but the great question is, Do ye believe? Nature may work fervency, but it is only grace that can work faith; spiritual blessings are obtained only by faith. They had intimated their faith in the office of Christ as Son of David, and in his mercy; but Christ demands likewise a profession of faith in his power. Believe ye that I am able to do this; to bestow this favour; to give sight to the blind, as well as to cure the palsy and raise the dead? Note, It is good to be particular in the exercise of faith, to apply the general assurances of God’s power and good will, and the general promises, to our particular exigencies. All shall work for good, and if all, then this. “Believe ye that I am able, not only to prevail with God for it, as a prophet, but that I am able to do it by my own power?” This will amount to their belief of his being not only the Son of David, but the Son of God; for it is God’s prerogative to open the eyes of the blind (Ps. 146:8); he makes the seeing eye, Exod. 4:11. Job was eyes to the blind (Job 29:15); was to them instead of eyes, but he could not give eyes to the blind. Still it is put to us, Believe we that Christ is able to do for us, by the power of his merit and intercession in heaven, of his Spirit and grace in the heart, and of his providence and dominion in the world? To believe the power of Christ is not only to assure ourselves of it, but to commit ourselves to it, and encourage ourselves in it.
To this question they give an immediate answer, without hesitation: they said, Yea, Lord. Though he had kept them in suspense awhile, and had not helped them at first, they honestly imputed that to his wisdom, not to his weakness, and were still confident of his ability. Note, The treasures of mercy that are laid up in the power of Christ, are laid out and wrought for those that trust in him, Ps. 31:19.
3. The cure that Christ wrought on them; he touched their eyes, Matt. 9:29. This he did to encourage their faith, which, by his delay, he had tried, and to show that he gives sight to blind souls by the operations of his grace accompanying the word, anointing the eyes with eye-salve: and he put the cure upon their faith, According to your faith be it unto you. When they begged for a cure, he enquired into their faith (Matt. 9:28), Believe ye that I am able? He did not enquire into their wealth, whether they were able to pay him for a cure; nor into their reputation, should he get credit by curing them; but into their faith; and now they had professed their faith he referred the matter to that: “I know you do believe, and the power you believe in shall be exerted for you; According to your faith be it unto you.” This speaks, (1.) His knowledge of the sincerity of their faith, and his acceptance and approbation of it. Note, It is a great comfort to true believers, that Jesus Christ knows their faith, and is well pleased with it. Though it be weak, though others do not discern it, though they themselves are ready to question it, it is known to him. (2.) His insisting upon their faith as necessary; “If you believe, take what you come for.” Note, They who apply themselves to Jesus Christ, shall be dealt with according to their faith; not according to their fancies, nor according to their profession, but according to their faith; that is, unbelievers cannot expect to find any favour with God, but true believers may be sure to find all that favour which is offered in the gospel; and our comforts ebb or flow, according as our faith is stronger or weaker; we are not straitened in Christ, let us not then be straitened in ourselves.
4. The charge he gave them to keep it private (Matt. 9:30), See that no man know it. He gave them this charge, (1.) To set us an example of that humility and lowliness of mind, which he would have us to learn of him. Note, In the good we do, we must not seek our own praise, but only the glory of God. It must be more our care and endeavour to be useful, than to be known and observed to be so, Prov. 20:6; 25:27 Thus Christ seconded the rule he had given, Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. (2.) Some think that Christ, in keeping it private, showed his displeasure against the people of Capernaum, who had seen so many miracles, and yet believed not. Note, The silencing of those who should proclaim the works of Christ is a judgment to any place or people: and it is just in Christ to deny the means of conviction to those that are obstinate in their infidelity; and to shroud the light from those that shut their eyes against it. (3.) He did it in discretion, for his own preservation; because the more he was proclaimed, the more jealous would the rulers of the Jews be of his growing interest among the people. (4.) Dr. Whitby gives another reason, which is very considerable, why Christ sometimes concealed his miracles, and afterwards forbid the publishing of his transfiguration; because he would not indulge that pernicious conceit which obtained among the Jews, that their Messiah should be a temporal prince, and so give occasion to the people to attempt the setting up of his kingdom, by tumults and seditions, as they offered to do, John 6:15. But when, after his resurrection (which was the full proof of his mission), his spiritual kingdom was set up, then that danger was over, and they must be published to all nations. And he observes, that the miracles which Christ wrought among the Gentiles and the Gadarenes, were ordered to be published, because with them there was not that danger.
But honour is like the shadow, which, as it flees from those that follow it, so it follows those that flee from it (Matt. 9:31); They spread abroad his fame. This was more an act of zeal, than of prudence; and though it may be excused as honestly meant for the honour of Christ, yet it cannot be justified, being done against a particular charge. Whenever we profess to direct our intention to the glory of God, we must see to it that the action be according to the will of God.
II. The healing of a dumb man, that was possessed with a devil. And here observe,
1. His case, which was very sad. He was under the power of the devil in this particular instance, that he was disabled from speaking, Matt. 9:32. See the calamitous state of this world, and how various the afflictions of the afflicted are! We have no sooner dismissed two blind men, but we meet with a dumb man. How thankful should we be to God for our sight and speech! See the malice of Satan against mankind, and in how many ways he shows it. This man’s dumbness was the effect of his being possessed with a devil; but it was better he should be unable to say any thing, than be forced to say, as those demoniacs did (Matt. 8:29), What have we to do with thee? Of the two, better a dumb devil than a blaspheming one. When the devil gets possession of a soul, it is made silent as to any thing that is good; dumb in prayers and praises, which the devil is a sworn enemy to. This poor creature they brought to Christ, who entertained not only those that came of themselves in their own faith, but those that were brought to him by their friends in the faith of others. Though the just shall live eternally by his faith, yet temporal mercies may be bestowed on us with an eye to their faith who are intercessors on our behalf. They brought him in just as the blind man went out. See how unwearied Christ was in doing good; how closely one good work followed another! Treasures of mercy, wondrous mercy, are hid in him; which may be continually communicated, but can never be exhausted.
2. His cure, which was very sudden (Matt. 9:33), When the devil was cast out, the dumb spake. Note, Christ’s cures strike at the root, and remove the effect by taking away the cause; they open the lips, by breaking Satan’s power in the soul. In sanctification he heals the waters by casting salt into the spring. When Christ, by his grace, casts the devil out of a soul, presently the dumb speaks. When Paul was converted, behold, he prays; then the dumb spake.
3. The consequences of this cure.
(1.) The multitudes marvelled; and well they might; though few believed, many wondered. The admiration of the common people is sooner raised than any other affection. It was foretold, that the new song, the New-Testament song, should be sung for marvellous works, Ps. 98:1. They said, It was never so seen in Israel, and therefore never so seen any where; for no people experienced such wonders of mercy as Israel did. There had been those in Israel that were famous for working miracles, but Christ excelled them all. The miracles Moses wrought had reference to Israel as a people, but Christ’s were brought home to particular persons.
(2.) The Pharisees blasphemed, Matt. 9:34. When they could not gainsay the convincing evidence of these miracles, they fathered them upon the devil, as if they had been wrought by compact and collusion: he casteth out devils (say they) by the prince of the devils—a suggestion horrid beyond expression; we shall hear more of it afterwards, and Christ’s answer to it (Matt. 12:25); only observe here, how evil men and seducers wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13), and it is both their sin and their punishment. Their quarrels with Christ for taking upon him to forgive sin (Matt. 9:3), for conversing with publicans and sinners, (Matt. 9:11), for not fasting (Matt. 9:14), though spiteful enough, yet had some colour of piety, purity, and devotion in them; but this (which they are left to, to punish them for those) breathes nothing but malice and falsehood, and hellish enmity in the highest degree; it is diabolism all over, and was therefore justly pronounced unpardonable. Because the people marvelled, they must say something to diminish the miracle, and this was all they could say.