Curing the blind men (Mt 9:29-9:31)

“Then Jesus

Touched their eyes.

Saying.

‘According to your faith,

Let it be done to you.’

Their eyes

Were opened.

Jesus

Sternly ordered them.

‘See that no one knows it.’

But they went away.

They spread the news

About him

Throughout that district.”

 

τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν λέγων Κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν.

καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί. καὶ ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων Ὁρᾶτε, μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω.

οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες διεφήμισαν αὐτὸν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῃ.

 

Although there are similar stories about curing a blind man in Jericho in Mark, chapter 10:52, and Luke, chapter 18:42-43, but also in Matthew, chapter 20:33-34, here is the only time that the cured blind men were not to let anyone know about it.  Jesus healed the sight of these blind men by touching their eyes (τότε ἥψατο τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν αὐτῶν).  Jesus said that their faith had let him heal them (λέγων Κατὰ τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν γενηθήτω ὑμῖν.).  Their eyes were opened (καὶ ἠνεῴχθησαν αὐτῶν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί), so that they could see.  However, Jesus strongly ordered them (καὶ ἐνεβριμήθη αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων) not to tell anyone, since no one should know about it (Ὁρᾶτε, μηδεὶς γινωσκέτω).  Instead, these newly sighted former blind men left (οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες) and told everyone in the whole land or district area everything that had happened (διεφήμισαν αὐτὸν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ γῇ ἐκείνῃ).  There was no mention of secrecy in the other accounts of this healing, but that was not an uncommon warning.  Earlier in chapter 8:4, Matthew had Jesus tell the cured leper not to say anything to anyone.  He did not want anyone to know about his power.  This is often referred to as the messianic secret.

Secrecy (Mt 8:4-8:4)

“Then Jesus said

To the leper.

‘See that you say nothing

To any one!

But go!

Show yourself

To the priest!

Offer the gift

That Moses commanded,

As a testimony to them.’”

 

καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς Ὅρα μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ, καὶ προσένεγκον τὸ δῶρον ὃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

 

This admonition to the leper can be found in Luke, chapter 5:14, and Mark, chapter 1:41-42, perhaps indicating Mark as the source.  Jesus told the leper (καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) not to say anything (Ὅρα μηδενὶ εἴπῃς), often referred to as the messianic secret.  Jesus did not want anyone to know about his power.  Instead the leper was to show himself to the priest (ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ,), as recommended in Leviticus, chapter 14:2-9.  He should offer the gifts (καὶ προσένεγκον τὸ δῶρον) as outlined in Leviticus, since this is what Moses had commanded (ὃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς) in the Torah.  He wanted this cleansed leper to show himself as a witness or testimony to the priests (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).

Secret fasting (Mt 6:17-6:18)

“When you fast,

Anoint your head!

Wash your face!

Thus,

Your fasting

May not be seen

By other men,

But by your Father,

Who is in secret.

Your Father,

Who sees in secret

Will reward you.”

 

σὺ δὲ νηστεύων ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,

ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ· καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυφαίῳ ἀποδώσει σοι.

 

As earlier, Jesus, via Matthew, indicated that secret almsgiving and prayer were good.  Here now, unique to Matthew, Jesus said to fast in secret (σὺ δὲ νηστεύων).  They should anoint their heads (ἄλειψαί σου τὴν κεφαλὴν) and wash their faces (καὶ τὸ πρόσωπόν σου νίψαι,).  Thus, no one would know that they were fasting (ὅπως μὴ φανῇς τοῖς ἀνθρώποις νηστεύων).  However, their father (ἀλλὰ τῷ Πατρί σου) in secret (τῷ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ) would know.  Like in the almsgiving and praying, their Father would be able to see them in secret (καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ).  Thus, he would also reward them (ἀποδώσει σοι), so that their reward would be in heaven, not here.  Why all this secrecy?  Were they afraid of being persecuted for something?  The followers of Jesus were to give alms, pray, and fast in secret, not in public, so that they would get a reward from their heavenly Father.

Secrecy (Jer 38:24-38:26)

“Then Zedekiah said

To Jeremiah.

‘Do not let anyone else

Know of this conversation!

Otherwise you will die!

If the officials should hear

That I have spoken

With you,

They would come to you.

They would say to you.

‘Just Tell us

What you said

To the king!

Do not conceal it from us!

Otherwise we will put you

To death!

What did the king say to you?

Then you shall say to them.

‘I was presenting my plea

To the king

Not to send me back

To the house of Jonathan

To die there.’”

Once again, the wishy-washy King Zedekiah wanted Jeremiah to keep this conversation with him a secret. If Jeremiah told anyone about this exchange of views, he would be killed. The problem was that the king’s officials might come to Jeremiah and force him to talk under the same threat of death. They would want to know all of what they said to each other. The king had a plan for Jeremiah to tell anyone who asked what they talked about.   Jeremiah was to say that he just did not want to go back to the dungeon prison at the house of Jonathan, mentioned early in the preceding chapter during his arrest by the king’s officials. In other words, the whole conversation was about what prison Jeremiah should be in. No one seemed to worry about how Jeremiah got out of the cistern well.