Sermons

Summary: Matt 12

NO EYE HAS SEEN, NO EAR HAS HEARD (MATTHEW 12:22-37)

My best friend in Hong Kong is a coworker whose surgery on his eyes made him impaired to a certain degree. Whenever he looks for me in a restaurant, he could only find me without fuss if I raise my hands.

One time, he asked me in the morning as he entered the office, “Did your department coworker walk by me and call my name at the MTR stop below?” I said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask.” Unfortunately, I told my friend, “Yes, it was him, alright.”

Last week (August 18, 2020) my friend told me he was at a taping for the virus weekend ministries when a lady passed by and greeted him, “Rev. Cheng, good morning.” It was hard for him to ask for a name in that instance with more than a few people in the busy room, and so he let it slide, Before too long, the same person came up to him again and said, “Good morning.’ That bothered him, so he made it a point to look for the person, to find out to his embarrassment that the lady was the senior pastor’s wife, who was seldom around for such events!

Matthew’s gospel has a very interesting introduction to Jesus’ miracles that is not available in other gospels: “they/I brought” or “was brought to him” (Matt 8:16, 9:2, 32, 12:22, 14:35), in this case a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute/dumb was brought to Jesus. The words “demon possession,” the “blind,” the “dumb” and “heal” appear more times in Matthew’s gospel than other gospels.

What would you do if people misconstrue and misrepresent your help? How can you be involved in the lives of those who are less fortunate in the world today? Why is one’s conduct inseparable from one’s character?

Help Rather Than Hinder

22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Westerners are very natural when it comes to saying “Thank you!” I came across a Google image that is titled “So Many Ways to Say THANK YOU!” with its content, no matter how awkward at times:

- I owe you one

- You are great

- I’m in your debt

- Thanks a million

- We were touched

- You were a life saver

- That’s so kind of you

- I thank you most warmly

- I do not know how to thank you

- I’m grateful for your assistance

- Please accept my deepest thanks

- Words can’t describe how thankful I am

It might surprise you to know that Matthew recorded the verb “heal” (v 15, “therapeuo” in Greek) more than the good doctor Luke himself, who recorded more times the verb “made whole (heal)” (Luke 9:2, “iaomai” in Greek). This incident was special because this is the only case whereby the person Jesus healed could both speak and see; usually the healed person Jesus helped could just speak (Matt 9:33) or see (Luke 7:21, John 9:15)

God scorns and mocks the devil, in setting under his very nose a poor, weak, human creature, mere dust and ashes, yet endowed with the firstfruits of the Spirit, against whom the devil can do nothing. Martin Luther.

The people present were astonished or amazed (v 23), not alarmed or aghast. The verb “astonished” (ex-istemi) is translated elsewhere as (the people were...) “besides themselves” (Mark 3:21, 2 Cor 5:13), lost their senses (NASB, Mark 3:21) and out of their mind (ESV, Mark 3:21). They were excited, extended and exhilarated. Literally it is “out of one’s stand” (out + stand) in Greek. They were bowled over, blown away and beyond belief. No one could remain silent and still, remain calm and composed, or remain unchanged or untouched.

The Pharisees, however, attributed Jesus’ healing and the man’s recovery to Satanic activity. All the Pharisees talked about was the identity of Jesus, never the improvement of the man or the impartiality of the witnesses. The religious leaders did not inspect, investigate or even inquire. There was no commendation, celebration or consideration from the Pharisees, but only controversy, condemnation and confusion. The title “Son of David” is a major talking point in Matthew’s gospel, as early as in Matthew 1:1 and a big motif in Matthew (Matt 1:1, 1:20, 9:27, 15:22, 20:30, 21:9, 15), but not a big deal to other gospel writers, except in the unanimous case of the blind men (Luke 18:38, Mark 10:47). The Son of David refers to Christ’s royalty, His reign and redemption. It was an unbelievable and an unimaginable turnaround, transformation and triumph that raised and revived the people’s Messianic expectations and excitement.

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