Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian

Did Jesus Claim to be the Messiah? (Exposition of Matthew 9:18-34)

How can John Hagee not see what two blind man could? John Hagee has recently authored a book titled, In Defense of Israel. In an advertisement for the book on his television program, Hagee claims that his new book “will shake Christian theology.” “It scripturally proves,” says Hagee, “that the Jewish people, as a whole, did not reject Jesus as Messiah. It will also prove that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah.”

Please allow me share a few quotations from the book:

I would like to categorically declare that these statements are false. Jesus did claim to be Messiah in both word and deed! In this morning’s text Jesus demonstrates that He is indeed the Messiah by His ability to restore and even two blind men can see that!

While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.” (19) So Jesus arose and followed him, and so did His disciples. (20) And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. (21) For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” (22) But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (23) When Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, (24) He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. (25) But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. (26) And the report of this went out into all that land. (27) When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (28) And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” (29) Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” (30) And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it.” (31) But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country. (32) As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a man, mute and demon-possessed. (33) And when the demon was cast out, the mute spoke. And the multitudes marveled, saying, “It was never seen like this in Israel!” (34) But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons.”

In Matthew 9:18-34, the King’s ability to restore health, life, sight, and speech is demonstrated.

Matthew connects the events of 18-34 with what has preceded in 9:9-17. This was one eventful meal! Matthew, no doubt, remembers these events well. He is called by Jesus. He throws a party for his friends to meet Jesus. Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees about why He eats with tax collectors and sinners. The disciples of John show up and question Jesus about why His disciples do not fast. And now, just as He is finishing responding to John’s disciples about the radically new nature of the New Covenant, up runs a man named Jarius, a ruler of the synagogue with a request to raise His dead daughter. What a meal! Jesus gets up, along with His disciples, and follows the man to His house. Did they get to eat dessert? I don’t know. But Jesus said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.”

On the way, a woman who has been bleeding, probably from the womb, for 12 years sneaks up behind Jesus and touches the edge of His garment and is healed. Jesus then proceeds to the ruler’s house where He sees professional mourners and flute players at work. According to the Talmud, even the poorest of families were to provide at least two flute players and one wailing woman when there was a death. This was a middle eastern custom. Jesus tells them their services are no longer needed, because this is not a funeral but a nap. These mourners become mockers! They laugh at what they perceive as naivety in Jesus.

By saying that the girl is asleep He is identifying her current state as temporary, in the same way that believers who are dead are said to “sleep in Christ.” This is not a reference to “soul sleep” because the Bible clearly teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Jesus touches the girl and she comes to life!

After leaving the scene of the resurrection, Jesus is followed by two blind men who cry out, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” After they affirm their belief in Jesus’ ability to restore their sight, Jesus heals them. As Jesus moves on, a mute and demon-possessed man is brought to Jesus. Jesus casts out the demon and restores the speech of this mute man. The response of the crowd is split. The multitudes are amazed, but the Pharisees ascribe what has happened to the devil.
That’s a pretty busy evening. It may be considered typical of how Jesus’ day went during His public ministry. John tells us that if all that Jesus had said and done were written, the worlds could not contain them (John 21:25). It’s easy to see why, if Jesus kept up this hectic schedule.

But why does Matthew record all of these miracles of restoration? He does so to demonstrate that Jesus is the Messiah!

According to Isaiah 35:5-6, the Messianic age would be characterized by such miracles.

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. (6) Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.

When John the Baptist’s disciples came and asked Jesus if He was “the Coming One”, Jesus responded in Matthew 11:2-6:

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples (3) and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (4) Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: (5) The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. (6) And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

In other words Jesus asks, “Am I the Messiah? Look at what I’m doing!” This is a resounding “Yes,” to the question which this sermon seeks to answer.

Use of the title “Christ”

What is the meaning of the term Christ? Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The Greek term Christos literally means “the annointed one”. The Greek word for the Hebrew Messiah. It is a title which refers to the coming Son of David, the Messiah.

This is one of the main emphasis of the Gospel of Matthew which begins with “the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David” (1:1). Then recounts the birth of the Christ (1:18). When the wise men want to find the young Jesus, Herod gathered together all the chief priests and scribes and asked where the Christ would be born (2:4). John the Baptist heard about the works of Christ and sent His disciples to see if He was truly Him (11:2-6). When Jesus asked the disciples who they believed Him to be, Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (16:16). This revelation, said Jesus, came from God, not man. During His trial, when the high priest asked Jesus under oath, if He was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus responded, “It is as you said.” (26:63-64). In light of this evidence, how can anyone say that Jesus did not claim to be the Messiah?

Use of the title “Son of David”
This is also a Messianic title because it refers to the covenant made with David in 1 Chronicles 17. Matthew uses this title for Jesus in the introduction to his gospel. His genealogy is purposefully given to show that Jesus is a descendent of David and thus qualified for this title. But the first time Jesus is called by the title is in our text this morning (v. 27). And the title is on the lips of two blind men. As one commentator said, “It is interesting . . . that in Matthew such recognition comes primarily from blind people and Gentiles (viewed by many as spiritually blind).” (Craig Blomberg). These blind men see, what apparently John Hagee can not see, and what many in Jesus day did not see. The fact that this title is on the lips of these blind men is meant to highlight the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees. The truth is that Jesus did come as the Messiah. He declared Himself to be the Messiah in word and deed. But those who were spiritually blind did not see it then, and they do not see it now!

In Matthew 12:22-24, the

Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. (23) And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” (24) Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”

There are the same two responses here as in 9:33-34. Some acknowledge the uniqueness of Jesus, while others reject Him as demonic.

Jesus is the Messiah! You’ve seen the evidence. Will you acknowledge Him as Messiah or reject Him as demonic?