The Scriptorium

You Can't Help the Willfully Blind

Only God can change hearts. Matthew 15.10.14

Matthew 15: True and False Faith (2)

Pray Psalm 53.5, 6.
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them.
Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When God brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

Sing Psalm 53.5, 6.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The wicked flee in shame; their ways our God rejects.
Renew Your people in Your Name with great effects!
Let great rejoicing sound once we renewed have been,
and let salvation’s Word resound from us again!

Read Matthew 15.1-14; meditate on verses 10-14.

1. What did Jesus say to offend the Pharisees?

2. What advice did Jesus give concerning those who are willfully blind to truth?

We call improperly digested food that spews from our mouths “vomit.” Vomiting is a pleasant experience for no one. He was saying that it doesn’t really matter what you take into your soul – in terms of ideas, insights, opinions, news, and the like. As long as you digest and process that input properly, there’s no danger of it coming out of your mouth in the form of lies, half-truths, deceptions of various kinds, or transgressive traditions. The implication of Jesus’ remark is that the Pharisees believed whatever suited them, without processing their ideas through the digestive system of Scripture (vv. 10, 11). Indeed, in just a little bit, Jesus will say it plain: “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt. 22.29).

No wonder the Pharisees took offense. Jesus was saying of these posturing theologians that they were vomiting undigested notions on the people, making them and themselves a stench in the nostrils of God.

Did the disciples suppose that Jesus did not know this would be offensive (v. 12)? Jesus knew, and Jesus intended it to be. He replied to their caution in two ways, with two brief parables. The first was meant to say that the Pharisees were not what they presented themselves as being; God had not planted them – like the tree in Psalm 1 – and they would therefore be uprooted in due course (v. 13).

Next, Jesus indicated that the Pharisees were blind; they did not know the truth of God. Thus, they were leading the people into blindness as well, and together they would fall into the catastrophe that engulfs all those who will not obey the truth of God (v. 14).

Jesus’ counsel to His disciples is important: “Let them alone.” There is no sense arguing with those who are determined to be blind. You’ll only make them angrier and harder of heart. Jesus responded to the Pharisees often, and He quibbled with them on occasion, leaving them with a question they either could not or chose not answer. But He didn’t argue with them. He didn’t try to reason them out of their false views. He proclaimed the truth and made His point clearly; then, He left the Word to linger with them, to sort it out as they would.

We are sowers of the Word, not changers of the heart (Matt. 13.36-43). The hearts of people are in the Lord’s hands, and He will turn and change them as He pleases (Prov. 21.1). Our task is to sow the Word into the souls of the people around us, and to show the Word as living and active in our own lives, making all things new according to the likeness of Jesus Christ.

So don’t trouble yourself with the willfully blind. Be available to them, but only insofar as you can show them the love of Christ, or sow His Word into their hearts.

1. How should we process, through the digestive system of Scripture, the ideas, news, opinions, and other forms of information that enter our soul each day (cf. Acts 17.11)?

2. How can you tell when someone is willfully blind to the truth of Jesus?

3. Why should we not argue with such people? What should we do instead?

We ought to avoid being guided by those blind persons. Not only should we do this, but we certainly should also listen with caution in the case of those who claim to lead in the way of healthy teaching and ought to apply healthy judgment to what they say. We should do these things so that we ourselves do not appear to be blind because we do not see the meaning of the Scriptures. We would become blind like this if we were guided by the ignorance of people who are blind and people who do not perceive the issues of healthy teaching.
Origen (185-254), Commentary on Matthew 11.14

Keep me in Your truth today, O Lord, and help me sow and show the good seed of the Kingdom as I…

Pray Psalm 53.1-5.
Think of people you know, and people in places of influence in our society, who seem to be blind to the Word of the Lord. Pray for them, that God Himself will persuade and open their hearts to the Gospel.

Sing Psalm 53.1-5.
Psalm 53.1-5 (Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God at all!”
Corrupt are they in whole and part, unjust and small.
Not one of them does good; God sees their wicked ways.
None understands the Word of God or gives Him praise.

Have all these wicked men no knowledge of God’s grace?
The Church they hate with passion and seek not God’s face.
Lord, strike their hearts with fear, where fear was not before.
And scatter all who camp so near Your holy door.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore