Mercy in Matthew (2): Have Mercy!

. 3 min read

Christ Church, Mountain Top
Matthew 9.27-31, 20.29-34
in Matthew:
      Last week, “fraternal twin stories”, Jesus
quoting “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. Inclusion & Permission. The
unworthy made welcome and sinners made guiltless.
      This week, “identical twin stories”, both
of the healing of two blind men. In both stories, they call out, “Have mercy on
us, Son of David”. In both stories, they follow Jesus. In both stories, they
call him “Lord”. In both stories, Jesus touches their eyes. The fact that
Matthew tells this story twice, whereas Mark and Luke only do so once, and the
fact that Matthew puts two blind men in the story, whereas Mark and Luke only
list one … well, that’s a mystery that the scholars still haven’t figured out …
but it matches other patterns in Matthew’s writing (Bruner, I:434). I won’t be
offering a ground-breaking solution – or any solution at all – to that
particular conundrum, though I will be making an observation relative to their
placement within the broader context of Matthew’s gospel.
      These two stories, with their reinforcing
similarities and their contrasting differences, provide us some insight on the
experience of God’s mercy. In line with the structure of the story, we’ll
structure the experience of mercy as
      Mercy’s Cry
      Mercy’s Community
      Mercy’s Commission

1. Mercy’s Cry
            9 – follow Jesus (ignored?), follow
into a house
do the blind follow Jesus? (Hauerwas, Matthew,
Brazos Theological Commentary, p 103; Bruner)
            20 – through the rebuke of the crowd
            Desperation – have to meet Jesus
            Perseverance manifests faith,
nurtures faith
            “Son of David” – Messiah, royal
perceive Jesus as “Son of David” (Messiah), though those who are have sight are
unable to perceive this (Hare, Bruner).
2. Mercy’s Community
      Connecting with experts – medicine, lawn
care, cooking, computers
            Recent retail experience
      TENS (learning names, meeting people)
            Eye contact
            Name (spoken, and repeated)
      Blind, marginalized, second to leprosy;
repulsive (Bruner, I:436)
            Sitting (social outcasts, Bruner
            Invites them into community
            Calls forth faith that they may not
even know they have
            Grossness and congregational care
3. Mercy’s Commission
            9 – disobedient – tell the story
when are told to be silent
                  Perhaps due to the political
content of Jesus-Messiah
                  Patriotic theology (Bruner,
– “disciples … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”
            20 – followed Jesus
God’s mercy does not relieve us of responsibility to obey Jesus in all things.
            In the context of Matthew,
                  9 – precedes mission of
                  20 – precedes passion of
                  Mission that overcomes
barriers & integrates into community
            20 – the crowd was following Jesus,
and preventing the blind
Christ’s followers are the greatest obstacle to others following him” (Bruner,
Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary (2
volumes), Eerdmans
      Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew, Brazos Theological Commentary

      Douglas Hare, Matthew, Interpretation