Summary: Praying for the Kingdom to come is an awesome responsibility, for some of us remain blind and mute despite Jesus’ healing, criticizing those who are different and causing divisions.
Our backyard is heavily populated. It is home to birds and bugs, to snails and occasional snakes, and most of all, our backyard is populated with moles. The turf is home to those burrowing creatures, moles. I have the twisted ankle to prove it, thanks to sinking in one of the burrows. Our backyard has moles. In fact, if you would like to have the church picnic in my backyard, maybe some of you would be kind enough to stomp on them. Moles are unpleasant, destructive, and even dangerous animals – not so dangerous by what they are as by what they do. They dig and make ridges in the turf, where people can stumble, and that’s dangerous.
Now moles, as you may know, are animals with some unusual features. They have very small eyes; they cannot see very much. Moles really don’t need to see, because they spend most of their time underground. For all intents and purposes, moles are blind.
Nor do moles make any significant noises. They have almost no voice. Oh, a tiny squeal of complaint comes out when your dog gets after a mole, but, for the most part, they do not make sound. Moles are not only essentially blind; they are mute as well.
But it is not their blindness or their muteness that makes them a problem. It is what they do. They dig burrows. They make ridges in the lawn. The ridges are dangerous. When you trip on a mole tunnel, you are likely to stumble and fall. The mole is blind and mute, yes; but that’s not the worst of it. The mole is dangerous because he deliberately burrows the heart out of your finely tended lawn and makes dividing lines right through it.
So anybody for a mole-stomping picnic this afternoon? Hey, don’t laugh. Stomping moles is better than swatting yellowjackets, which we have sometimes done at church picnics in Rock Creek Park! Oh, I forgot. I have yellowjackets in my backyard too. I guess we’d better stick to the park.
Jesus showed us one day that there are moles in God’s world, and that they are blind and mute, and worse. They are divisive. Moles want to do damage. They do not understand, but they want to do harm. They will not speak a word of hope, but they will grumble about things and cause trouble. Blind and mute and worse; they are divisive.
It all happened when someone brought to Jesus a man who was indeed both blind and mute, and Jesus healed that man. One person, touched by Jesus, once blind and mute, could now see and speak. But now listen. Is anybody else still blind and mute, despite what Jesus has done?
All the crowds were amazed and said, "Can this be the Son of David?" But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons."
Isn’t that astonishing? The crowds said, “Can this be the Son of David?” If somebody is healed of his disabilities, doesn’t this mean God is at work? Doesn’t this mean that the Messiah we have hoped for is finally here? Isn’t it wonderful? Somebody who was blind and mute can now see and speak? That’s what the simple, uncomplicated folks saw.
But listen to the Pharisees. The religious leaders, the good folks, the ones who had studied their Bibles, went to church all the time, were diligent about getting it right – what did they say? What was their reaction?
“It is only by … the rule of the demons that this fellow casts out the demons.”
Can you believe that? They saw a man healed and made whole and decided that it was of the devil! Now I ask you, who is still blind and mute? One man got cured and can once again see and speak. But don’t you have the feeling that a whole lot of other folks are still blind and still mute? They don’t see; they don’t get it.
The moles in my backyard are not only blind and mute, but they do a lot of divisive damage as well. Let’s think about this. Jesus cured a blind and mute man, and the Pharisees react with irritation. They don’t like it. Why not?
Jesus saw that they were making excuses for their own failures. Jesus saw that they were trying to draw attention away from their own spiritual power shortage. And the way you do that is to pooh-pooh somebody else’s achievements. The way you get the monkey off your own back is to make excuses and to dismiss as worthless what others have done.
Jesus healed. The Pharisees knew they had never done that. Well, since we know we are right, since we know what God is about, since things like that just cannot happen – it must have been Satan that did it. Jesus is some kind of trickster, some sort of flim-flam man. We don’t know how He did it, but it wasn’t real, it wasn’t of God. The Pharisees labeled Jesus’ healing miracle as demonic because they had failed to do Kingdom things, so to get attention off their power shortage they wrote off His Kingdom accomplishments.