IN THOSE DAYS, two blind men followed Jesus, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When He entered the house, the blind men came to Jesus, and He said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” But they went away and spread the news about Him throughout that land.
After they had gone away, behold, a demon-possessed man, who was mute, was brought to Jesus. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed and said, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out the demons.”
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness.
There are two points that I would like to reflect on from this Gospel lesson: first, "see that no one knows of this" vs "go and proclaim;" and second, the ways Jesus healed blindness and muteness.
When encountered by the blind men and being confessed the the Messiah, Jesus took them inside, in a house, and healed them there. The title "Son of David" was a messianic name. The Jews expected the Messiah to be one of the descendants of King David (note, however, nobody expected the Messiah to be God incarnate). Therefore, calling Jesus Son of David, the two blind men publicly acknowledged Him as the Savior.
This title was also politically charged by the times of Jesus. The Jews didn't just expect the Messiah from God, they expected a political liberator, and their neighbors (especially the occupying Romans) knew that. Therefore, Christ removed Himself and the two men in need of help from the public eye. His time had not come yet, He could not draw too much unwanted attention to Himself. Unwanted attention in this case was of political nature. He was, after all, healing and preaching unlike anyone else before.
After healing the two men, Jesus told them to make sure that "no one knows of this." Meaning, His time had not yet come to be glorified (that is, crucifixion and resurrection), the miracles He was performing, He was performing them to show the people that God is with them, that God has acted. On a couple other occasions the Lord gives the same command to "say nothing" about a healing (for example, cleansing of a leper found in Matthew 8:1-4 and Mark 1:40-45).
There are also times when Christ explicitly tells people to "go and proclaim" the Gospel or the Kingdom some time before His glorification. Such as when He sent out the twelve disciples on their initial missionary journey (Luke 9:1-6); or after healing the Gerasene demoniac and telling him to "return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you" (Luke 8:26-39); or telling His would be follower to "let the dead bury their own dead, but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:57-62).
It appears that it depended on a specific situation whether Jesus would tell someone to "say nothing" or "go and proclaim." In case with the two blind men, they were told to stay quiet because the Lord did not yet want to garner unnecessary attention to Himself. However, what do the two men do? "They went away and spread the news about Him throughout that land."
So, did they disobey God? Some of the Father of the Church, commenting on this passage, say no. Rather, the healed men must have understood that the Lord had implied that they could not boast of their healing, as if they were worthy of it, but were obliged to proclaim God's glory manifest in the miracle. Since they did not go out and say, "Look at us, we are healed!" but spread the news about Jesus, they proclaimed His Gospel, then we can say that this was not a direct act of disobedience.
The point of all of this (and I took a long way to get to the point) is that after Christ had been glorified, the commandment (to all of us) very clearly is to "go and proclaim and baptize and teach" (Matthew 28:16-20). While before the glorification, the Lord picked and chose specific situations for specific purposes. So the question is - why are we acting and behaving as if we are still in the pre-glorification times? Are we blind like the two men and in need of healing (we just might be)? Is the commandment to "make disciples of all nations" vague? Christ has been glorified; we have received the Holy Spirit to encourage and guide us. What are we waiting for?
And to the second point, notice that Jesus healed the blind men by touching them, but the mute, demon-possessed man, He "simply" healed. The mute man was unable to ask for what he desired, so Jesus quietly, without saying a word, healed him by His power. Therefore, the physical illness (blindness) was healed by a physical touch. While the spiritual disease (demon-possession) was healed by the presence of God.
A truly amazing and miraculous thing is that we experience both of these when we get together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. There is only one point of the Liturgy - to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ as one community, as one Church. The Lord Himself promised that "where two or three are gathered in My Name, I am there among them" (Matthew 18:20). God is present among us when we are together in prayer, just like He was present before the possessed man.
Likewise, He is fully present in the Holy Gifts of the Eucharist (Communion), as He had promised at the Last Supper. The bread is His Body and the wine is His Blood (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-23, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). There is no way to misunderstand Christ's words, He was not speaking symbolically here, as some try to claim. Furthermore, Jesus said, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh" (John 6:51, emphasis mine). He established this sacrament so that we would establish ourselves in Him. In the Eucharist the Lord physically touches us, with His own flesh, like He touched and healed the two blind men.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest