Jesus continues his ministry of going about healing and saving—while at the same time aware that the culmination of this ministry is at the cross, a culmination that was not yet widely understood (if at all), and so he is careful to ensure that his growing fame did not derail him from his ultimate goal. But such is the extraordinary nature of what he is doing that nonetheless more and more people hear of him.
Two blind men have heard of his messianic status (“Son of David”), and they simply cry out, “Have mercy” (9:27). What a sweet thing it is in the ears of Jesus to hear sinners in need simply asking God for mercy! Would you do that, sinner stuck in your sin, blind to the truth, unable to see the way forward? God, have mercy! Those who seek shall find, and God did not, and does not, turn a deaf ear to the genuine cries of “have mercy!” The critical factor is their faith (9:28-29). Faith does not function as some sort of magic element that generates miracles, but rather is the relational glue that is the channel through which God’s salvation comes. Only believe, and you will be saved. “And their eyes were opened” (9:30).
Having healed two blind men, he now heals a mute man. The blind see, the deaf hear, those unable to speak are given a voice. The messianic promises are being fulfilled in the person of Jesus. The crowds marvel (9:33). But the Pharisees find a way to cast aspersions on the work of Christ: “He casts out demons by the prince of demons” (9:34). This is an old slander against Christ, and it is recorded so that we might take courage when we work for Christ and are slandered too. The only way to avoid being criticized is not to attempt to do anything, and those who serve Christ will be greatly attacked. A servant is not above his master (Matt. 10:24), and if they treated Christ like this, then, Christian, so will they treat you (John 15:20). Be encouraged: Christ has overcome the world, and he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Great crowds gather around Jesus as he preaches the gospel of the kingdom (9:35-36), and Jesus has compassion on them. He is a shepherd, and he sees how people then (and still today) are vulnerable, fall easy prey to the latest lie or charlatan, are harassed and helpless, and without a shepherd. What is the solution? The only solution is that of verse 38: pray God for more workers. We are to pray for, train up, identify those who are answers to our prayers, so that the work of God can continue through all the massed crowds of the world. Would you pray that God would raise up preachers, missionaries, evangelists, Bible teachers, professors, elders, deacons, and faithful Christian shepherds of every kind, that people might be reached for Christ and, once reached, then shepherded faithfully by Christ’s under shepherds.
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