There is a very old children’s song, of German origin, which as a child I found very funny. We knew the song as Dr. Ironbeard, though in the German he is known as Dr. Eisenbarth. In the satirical song, Dr. Ironbeard is advertising the wonders of his medical abilities. The song includes the lines: “The lame to see, the blind to talk” and “The mute to hear, the deaf to walk.”
It turns out that there really was a Dr. Eisenbarth (1663-1727) who lived in Oberviechtach, Germany. Dr. Johann Andreas Eisenbarth was a very successful doctor and surgeon; but he is remembered because he was very flamboyant in his advertising, as he moved from village to village with wagons. His entourage included musicians and other entertainers (as many as 120), who would lead him into a town or village in order to draw a crowd. The good doctor then would tell the people all that he could accomplish for them with his healing arts. There is an Eisenbarth museum in Oberviechtach dedicated to the showy and ostentatious doctor, who was more competent than the children’s song would indicate.
Our text today begins with the astonishment and praise by those who brought their sick to Jesus in order to be cured. In what is the opposite of the silly children’s song we are told that “the crowd was amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.” As a sign of the in-breaking of the kingdom of heaven into our world, Jesus heals everyone who is brought to him.
Jesus arrives back in Galilee, without bands or entertainers to draw a crowd. Thousands flock to him from all over the area for they have heard about the mighty wonders that Jesus has performed. Healing and wonders are signs that mark the coming of the Messianic Age. Isaiah prophesied “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.” (35:5-6) The people were seeing all of these things come to fruition in the person of Jesus, and they were praising God for it!
The people carried their sick to Jesus with great expectations. We are told that they brought them to Jesus and placed them at his feet, and he cured them. It seems to me that we have two options for a response to our text today. Our first option would be to look at the text as a historical rendering of a story of faith. Looking at it in its historical context we can say, “Wow, it must have been wonderful for those people. They took their loved ones to Jesus, and he healed them.” It is then a story to inspire us.
Our second option on dealing with this story is to see it as an instructional story telling us that we too should bring our sick and place them at the feet of Jesus. This means more than just hoping that they will get well and asking Jesus to help them. We are to bring our loved ones to Jesus and entrust them to his care. We are to bring them to Jesus with the full understanding that Jesus loves them, and with the full expectation that Jesus will take care of them. Does this mean that all of the blind will see and the lame will walk? Not always… Does it mean that everyone will be cured and live? Yes, but not always in the ways our wills would press for…
There are healings that go beyond the cures that Jesus performs in our text today. There are healings of heart, mind and spirit; which though not readily visible can have a more profound impact on lives than hearing a mute tongue shout for joy. We also learn in the cross of Jesus that death itself is a healing. So are there miraculous healings when we bring our loved ones to Jesus and place them at his feat? Absolutely! Bring your loved ones to Jesus. Bring them with great hope and expectation, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) And let us respond like the people in today’s text by praising God!