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But, but, but...

Matthew 9:27-31

And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. BUT they, when they were departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country.

Two men followed after Jesus, begging for mercy. They can represent all people. All of us have needs that are beyond our control. We are capable of taking care of ourselves and our families in most ways and we are proud of our accomplishments. Unlike some neighbors whose houses are an eyesore to the community, we keep our home clean and in good repair. We work hard, pay our debts and have kids that we can be proud of. So many kids don’t get proper parenting and get into trouble, but not ours. 

Of course there are things in life that we are not happy with, BUT there is not much that we can do about it, so we tolerate. Nobody is perfect! Some wear eyeglasses and others have hearing aids or false teeth. We learn to live with such defects. BUT it is more difficult to accept some problems. If you are not good-looking, you can use more make-up, BUT suppose you are mentally handicapped? They put you in an institution with others who have similar deficiencies and you adjust.

BUT… these men were blind! Perhaps two or three thousand people lived in Capernaum and these two men were likely the only ones who were blind. They were in a class by themselves. No woman wanted to marry them and no employer would hire them. Their blindness excluded them from other relationships, BUT it placed them in contact with each other. Like the ten lepers that Jesus healed, they had built relationships, helped each other and kept each other company.

Then one day, they heard about a man named Jesus who was healing all manner of disease and even brought a girl back to life. They spoke to each other and said “Let’s go find him!” They followed a crowd to a house, all the while calling out, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us!Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened!  

So, blind people CAN do something about their blindness! Do you suppose that if they had only a little faith, that they would be able to see just a little bit? No! When a person believes, Jesus saves that person completely! When he healed the man who had been lame from birth, he stood up and carried his bed. He healed Peter’s Mother-in-Law and she stood up and served him and the disciples.

A Similar Scene in Mark 9

Jesus had healed many and it drew quite a crowd. But then Jesus took three of his disciples (the "Sons of Thunder") and disappeared. They went up on the Mount of Transfiguration, leaving nine disciples and the crowds behind.  Jesus and the other three had been gone probably several hours.  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged the disciples that had gone with him,  "that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.  And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. Mark 9:9-10

And when Jesus came to his disciples, he saw a great multitude about them, and the scribes questioning with them (vs. 14).  Jesus said, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The father of the child cried out with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief! 

“And Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. BUT when they were departed, they spread abroad his fame in all that country.”  

We might ask why Jesus would command them not to tell people. These men may have wondered about that too. After all, how could they keep their sight a secret? Sometimes the Lord gives us a command that we don’t understand. Perhaps he is just testing our faith. Jesus probably had a good reason for that command. Most who sought to see and hear Jesus just wanted to see  miracles – a show, amusemnet park, circus or football game are not ideal places for presenting the gospel. Many churches offer music and entertainment to draw people in, but how many are saved? How many lives are changed?

The blind men in Matthew 9 had faith to believe that Jesus could restore their sight, BUT they disobeyed his command. Many Christians are like that. They have faith to ask God for what they want, BUT after that, God’s Word is no longer important. They are recipients of God’s blessings and have the promise of eternal life in heaven, but are still blind to God’s purpose for them. The conversion of a sinner is just the beginning of a great new life in Christ!

Matthew 9:32-34

As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. BUT the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.

Jesus and his disciples went back outside. A man who was dumb (couldn’t speak) and who was possessed of a demon was brought to him. Jesus cast out the demon and the man could speak.  The multitudes (apparently thousands) saw this as a sensation. They recognized that Jesus was special – from God – perhaps the Messiah!

“BUT the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” These were teachers who had been proclaiming that the Messiah would soon come. They knew scripture, but because Jesus didn’t elevate them and was openly critical of their hypocrisy, they said he could not be the Messiah. The reason our Lord performed miracles was to underscore his deity – his claim of being the Messiah. Multitudes believed that it was possible BUT those who knew the scriptures best did not believe and blasphemed without cause! This leads us to the next statement of Jesus, which otherwise seems out of place. 

Matthew 9:35-38

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. BUT when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Jesus was successful as a miracle worker and those he helped were happy about that, but very few had responded in a faith commitment to our Lord’s kingdom. Few became disciples. It is still like that today.

What did Jesus command his disciples? Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creatureJesus went about all the cities and villages preaching the gospel of the kingdom. What was the second command that he gave his disciples? Matthew 28:20: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. In this passage, Jesus was teaching in their synagogues. That is what the synagogues were for. The Scribes and Pharisees were teaching in the synagogues, but the people were not getting fed spiritually. They read the law to the people, including those which they had made themselves. In fact, it had become a mark of distinction if one of them was credited with creating a new law or redefining an old one.

BUT when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Jesus saw the multitude as scattered sheep – scattered abroad. They were disoriented, without leadership and without fellowship. And the sheep “fainted” – they were desperate, perplex. weary of wandering and searching for spiritual food, yet not finding it. 

Jesus suddenly switched parables. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Instead of sheep and shepherd, he compares the situation with a bountiful harvest standing in the field, ready to be gathered into the barn, but there are very few reapers. A flock of sheep would normally only have one shepherd, but the task of harvesting was too great for a few. What was the solution? Obviously the solution was more reapers, more workers! Remember what Matthew 28:20 says? Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. That means to obey, to do!

Jesus concludes his words with a command. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. There are “multitudes” of sheep who are scattered and disoriented and they need to be brought to the Good Shepherd. And there was much fruit – a “plenteous harvest” standing in the field, but only a dozen disciples. There was an obvious need for more workers. Twelve disciples were not enough. Seventy disciples were not enough. A hundred twenty disciples who were gathered in the Upper Room at Pentecost were not enough.

Jesus told his disciples to pray for laborers.  Two things are important to note in this command:

1) We are to pray [ask] the Lord of the harvest. It is God’s harvest and not ours. We are just laborers.

2) It is God who calls, sends, equips and provides for workers. And he leads them in his wisdom.

There is a disturbing trend in North American churches today. Because churches pray for missionaries and give for their support, some of them are now saying, “The church should be in control of their missionaries.” They talk about cutting out the “middle man” i.e. mission organizations.

That may seem like a logical move to those not directly involved in missions, but there are negative consequences in such a step. The idea behind this movement is selfish and materialistic. It is about money and control. Mission organizations should work closely with churches, but churches can not and should not be in control of what takes place on foreign soil, in a different culture and under entirely different circumstances. Churches could be more involved and better informed, but their job is making disciples and teaching them to observe all that the Lord commanded.  It is neither the church nor the mission that calls and sends laborers into the Lord’s harvest. God himself does it. Prayer is a very important  part of this process. Mission organizations oversee this work and pick qualified missionaries to provide leadership in specific ministries and fields of service.  This has worked well for centuries and God has blessed. Most importantly, it is in sync with New Testament scriptures.

Ralph V. Harvey