Matthew 9:18-34 illustrates so powerfully the difference between the faithful and the faithless. The final two verses in particular really hit me when I reflected on the passage:
And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”
Jesus had just healed a woman of a long-term illness, raised a girl from the dead, healed two blind men and made a mute man speak. This is truly amazing, and clearly from v. 33 we are told that this was a most remarkable event.
Matthew appears to mention quite deliberately throughout the passage the fact that the healing of each person by Jesus was preceded by some approach made by them (or on their behalf, in the case of the dead girl) – made in faith that Jesus could heal them. That faith is amazing.
Perhaps even more amazing than Jesus’ miracles and the faith of the healed persons is the fact that something so amazing would cause others (ie the Pharisees) to respond so negatively. How could they possibly have been anything other than joyful to see other people healed?
Jesus speaks elsewhere of those who have been forgiven little loving little, and those who have been forgiven much loving much. It is a matter of recognising our need before God – a need that the people who were healed in this passage recognised, but the Pharisees could not.
I often hear mature Christians whom I respect say that the more their hearts are inwardly regenerated by the Spirit, the more they realise how corrupted their hearts are in other ways. I’d love to be like that, but often wonder if I’m falling into thinking I’m doing pretty good – such thinking is self-deceit, as I really need God!
May the examples of the mature Christians that I’m thinking of be true of all of us. Let’s be amazed and marvel at what God has done in declaring us righteous and renewing our hearts to date, but realise that we need God now just as much as we ever have!