Daily Devotion 18 May 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Matthew 9:27-31 ‘The Healing of Two Blind Men’

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

This story makes for an interesting comparison with that of the healing of Bartimaeus, subject of yesterday’s Devotion, because it can teach us a quite different lesson. It’s difficult – almost impossible – to put ourselves in the position of these two unfortunate men, but if I try to imagine what it must have been like to be blind and yet try to follow Jesus, I run into immediate difficulties. The picture of the two men following after Jesus is hard enough to comprehend by itself, but that’s not all, and it comes down to the word ‘followed’ (‘ekoluthesan’) in vs. 27, which can be understood in two ways.

On the one hand, it means ‘to come after’ but in a determined sense. The British classical scholar E.V. Rieu, who translated Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey into English, turned his attention to the four Gospels. When he came to the above passage from Matthew, rather daringly but almost certainly more accurately, Rieu translated it as ‘pursued’! Now that seems extraordinary, but it graphically illustrates the desperation that these blind men must have felt as they scrambled after Jesus.

Secondly, this word ‘followed’ can equally mean ‘to follow someone as a disciple’. In other words, Matthew is suggesting that they came after Jesus with more than a wish to be physically cured. They wanted more than this. We can’t fail to notice how they called after Jesus: “Son of David”. They knew who he was because, even in their pain and darkness, they saw Jesus with the eye of faith.

It’s a lovely, touching story which can speak to each one of us when we experience the darkness of pain, or loneliness, or despair of any kind. But it’s also a reminder that our faith is based upon relationship, rather than assent to doctrine. In his autobiographical Confessions, St. Augustine writes of this longing: ‘Too late have I loved Thee, O most beautiful one’, but he speaks for us all in our need for God and the knowledge of his love. When we understand this, the light of his love will penetrate the deepest darkness that can surround us, and give us blessed peace.

Prayer:

Loving God, your Son restored sight to the blind, and in Christ,
you have experienced the darkness that can afflict us all at times.
Help us to see you with the eye of faith and to pursue you to our life’s end,
knowing that, as we follow in the footsteps of our Saviour,
we will always be upheld by the power of his love. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Barrie Tabraham.
Image © Good News Productions International and College Press Publishing from www.freebibleimages.org.

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