After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Heals a Man Unable to Speak
As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
We have been in Mathew for a series of miracles and it may be profitable to recount the work of Jesus up to this point, at least from Matthews standpoint. Previous to this miracle, Jesus has
- Healed a woman of a blood disease
- Raised a 12 year old girl from the dead
- Given two blind men sight
Given our last mighty work of Jesus as providing sight to blind men, it is interesting to compare the two miracles and their recipients.
What actually was this fellows physical disability? Of course, the source of the mute man’s condition was the demon oppression, which Jesus addressed in this miracle. Yet to get a feel of this man’s existence, it is worth considering the world he lived in. The term describing this man brought to Jesus is the Greek word kōphos κόπτω (G2875), and includes the idea of deafness. Although this passage describes the man as unable to speak, the term may also include the inability to hear. If so, consider this poor man’s condition.
If deaf and mute, he was in a world where communication was limited to hand gestures, or facial expressions. Understanding the simplest message was fraught with confusion. Remember, the skill of reading and writing was not as widespread as it is today, and we may safely assume this skill was not available to this poor soul. Given this, he lived in a world of silence, restricted of any method of communication to those around him. His thoughts were his and his alone, and the privilege of sharing with another person the joys or sorrows of this life were unavailable to him. He experienced a loneliness many have never entered into.
If only mute, this condition is not much better, since he may hear a message, yet not be able to communicate his thoughts or feelings fully. This, in my opinion, would be incredibly frustrating, since I am a fairly opinionated fella!
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
Those who brought the mute man. (I am assuming more than one person brought him.) These folk who brought him had heard of Jesus, and may have seen the miracles. But nothing is said of those who brought him to Jesus. They are not the focus of this miracle.
As a matter of fact, nothing is said of the mute man, other than his demon oppression and of his cure. He is a “silent” witness in all of this – no pun intended!
Two main groups are spoken of in the recounting of this miracle.
The crowd marveled, saying “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” To be marveled was to be amazed, to be cast into wonder. This crowd may very well be made of many in Capernaum that had seen many of Jesus’ miracles so far, yet this one amazed them. At no time does Matthew inform us of the mute man or his friend(s) requesting a healing. (Granted – they may have and Matthew simply doesn’t record it!) Yet the absence of the request allows me to think Jesus may have addressed this man’s disability without request.
Just healing a mute man for the sake of those in attendance? For the Pharisees possibly? Remember that at this time, the Pharisees are tagging behind the Lord to determine if He truly is a charlatan or the real McCoy!
A miracle for the Pharisees? Interesting possibility!
Consider the progression Matthew gives us in this chapter, regarding the Pharisees attitude toward the Messiah. Initially, the Pharisees accused Him in their hearts of blasphemy in Matthew 9:3.
Matthew 9:3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
Then the Pharisees breach the subject of besmirching the Lord’s character with the disciples in Matthew 9:11.
Matthew 9:11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Finally, with the healing of this mute man, the Pharisees come out with their current judgement against the Master and His ministry.
Matthew 9:34 ESV – But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”
This is the first time this judgement on the Lord’s ministry is delivered to the masses, but Matthew will inform us later that the Pharisees maintained this strategy to defame the Lord.
Matthew 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.”
(I have considered this passage previously in a post called Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Unpardonable Sin.)
At this point in the Lord’s ministry, and due to this mute man being healed, the Pharisees reveal their opinion of the Messiah to the masses and set themselves on a collision course with God and His Messiah.
When did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.
Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?
As mentioned above, the Pharisees had seen enough, and publicly gave a judgement against the Lord, informing the crowd of their determination of His source of power. It is quite humorous (if it wasn’t so tragic) that given the proofs of His person, those most qualified to determine His identity would be so far off in their judgement! Yet we must admit that good religion has to rejects Jesus. This miracle provides a perfect example of how religious pride breeds a rejection of the only true God.
Jealousy and pride may be found in every religion, and sad to say, even within Christianity – or should I say Christendom? Denominational claims of superiority over other groups of believers is a blight that hurts the church constantly.
What was the message for the original audience?
The message to the original audience?
It was, for the crowd, a message of amazement, a message that this itinerant preacher was constantly astounding those who came to Him. He performed mighty works that had not been seen before, and the multitude of various and diverse disabilities brought to Him did not limit His abilities to heal.
For the Pharisees, the message was received with mockery, disdain and disbelief, producing a verdict associating the Judge of all the earth as being in cahoots with the His arch enemy. Consider this reaction by the Pharisees. It is illogical, due to their pride twisting a normal thought process upside down, eliminating a thoughtful conclusion. Pride forces, against all proofs, a ridiculous conclusion that brings pain and sorrow on the ones living in that pride. Pride truly goes before destruction!
What is the message for us today?
Two reactions to the Lord’s ministry is provided for us in this mighty work.
As those in the crowd, we may experience amazement over His grace to all in need, even to those who have no faith, as this mute man brought by his friends seems to exhibit. Each of the miracles, and each of His messages, should produce a level of amazement in our hearts. He is beyond our understanding, and this is good to remember. When He becomes like you and I in our thoughts, and we see Him as we see ourselves, we lose.
As for the reaction of the Pharisees, as believers, we are to remember that pride is the death knell of the Christian life. Pride of religious association brought the Pharisees to an erroneous conclusion concerning the identity of their Messiah. You see, the Pharisees “knew” they were right and looked down on those who were the unwashed. They were the righteous ones, the ones “in the know”, the only ones with truth, and as the pure and wise arbiters of truth for the theocracy of Israel, felt they had to protect their sheep and make a public judgement against Jesus.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
As we have seen in this miracle, one of the fallouts of religious pride is a rebellion against God and His Messiah. This religious rebellion produces many toxins within the Body of Christ, one of which is division within the Body.
Paul saw the damage of pride in the body when he wrote to the Corinthians. Consider his appeal to the Corinthians when he writes of their allegiance and pride of association to multiple parties in the church. He is shocked by the tribalism of the Corinthian church, and seeks an agreement of mind and judgement.
It may be wise to consider any attitude we may harbor toward other Christian groups, denominations, churches, associations and such, for if we judge our group to be superior to others, we may have fallen into the Pharisee trap.
It didn’t turn out well for them, for the very nation they thought they were protecting became the very nation that had one generation left before destruction. The Pharisees, fueled by religious pride, brought destruction to the nation that they were tasked to protect.
As a tonic to this toxin, consider Micah’s admonition for our final application out of todays miracle, for I fear our modern church, consisting of the modern Christian, finds the Pharisee trap very appealing for their religious life.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
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