God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ
Once people brought a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see (Matthew 12:22). This person suffered from 2 conditions – he cannot see and speak. Of these two, being blind was a lesser condition because people could take pity on this man and bring him to seek healing, which was what happened.
Being mute was a more severe condition. In fact, according to Jewish tradition no one could heal such a person because being unable to speak, there was no way the demon could identify itself by a voice and therefore could not be cast out.
“If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:28).
Hence, in order for this person to be healed, somebody who is from God (or someone with a higher authority) could do what others could not. That is why the Jewish leaders later attributed the healing to the work of Beelzebub, the prince of demons, since they refused to accept the Lord as the Messiah. In response, Jesus said, “If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt 12:28). In other words, the Messiah is here when the Spirit of God is upon Him and He is able to cast out such demons.
Recently I received a newsletter from an organization whose work is to reach the Jews for Christ. Messianic Jews are Jewish Christians who retain their Jewish heritage and practices in order to remain Jewish so as to be witnesses among their own people. There is a promise that all Israel will be saved and the trickling of Messianic Jews is only a small beginning.
During bible school training I was introduced several books written by Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889). He was a Jewish Christian scholar who was converted by a Presbyterian minister while studying in England. (In those days, they were not called Messianic Jews.) His books have helped several generations of theological students understand the Hebraic backgrounds to the New Testament. His books about the Old Testament have also enlightened many of the “big picture” of God’s salvation story through Abraham and his descendants.
His classical works include The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services and Bible History: Old Testament. I doubt these books are still in print but you can still get it on Amazon.
An appreciation of the Jewish mindset helps greatly in our understanding of Scripture. The story I quoted above is a good example. And there were other miracles that Jesus performed that were “messianic” miracles. That is, they pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.
During this mission month let us remember to pray for the 2 units of missionaries serving in the Middle East. It is not easy to serve in a place so rich in biblical tradition because it is this very thing that prevents them from receiving the truth. Their prayer is that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ (Colossians 4:3).
By Rev Philip Lim