Western Wall Dome of the Rock

Read Matthew 21:7–16. Where does Jesus receive “the blind and the lame”? Whose house is this?

Jesus rides up to the temple along a road strewn with palm branches and coats, while people shout “Hosanna to the son of David.” When he arrives in the outer court, the court of the Gentiles, he drives out the marketers. Gentiles only have one place in the temple to pray, but money-changers have taken it over.

In the middle of the story, the noise and action freeze for one sentence while Jesus heals the blind and the lame. “Hosanna” does mean “save!” and indeed, according to Matthew, the blind expect the “son of David” to open their eyes. The dumb expect him to heal their speech. And demoniacs expect him to cast out their demons. The son of David saves them (9:27–31; 12:22–28; 20:29–34).

But there is more to this sentence than first meets the eye. “The blind and the lame” is an oblique reference to an ancient taunt.

Read 2 Samuel 5:6–12. Who is David trying to conquer?

The Jebusites think their defenses are impossible to breach. In verse 6, they express this sense of security by claiming that even the disabled could defend the city against David. Instead, David outwits them; he sends warriors, not over the wall, but under it through the water shaft. David doesn’t really intend his warriors to attack disabled persons (v. 8). He means them to attack all the inhabitants of Jebus. “The blind and the lame” have come to represent Jebusite defenders in general. The taunt becomes a joke. All former Canaanite inhabitants of Jebus are the people who are no longer permitted inside “the house.”

Jebus was the old Canaanite name for Jerusalem (5:9–12). With this in mind, look back at Matthew 21:14. The blind and the lame are welcomed into God’s house and healed because of the son of David. In the Matthew story, “the blind and the lame” are literal disabled folks, but they also continue to stand for the same group they represented in 2 Samuel. In addition to “the blind and the lame,” Jesus welcomed and healed Israel’s former enemies, Canaanite Gentiles. He cleared their space for prayer. He welcomed them back into the house. God’s house. His house.

Put yourself in the Jebusites’ place. Would you receive or resist a welcome from your enemy into the house you consider your own ancestral home? Why or why not? Put yourself in the place of the disabled and demonized? Would you hold a grudge if you were offered healing? Would you request it? Put yourself in Jesus’ place. What would you do to welcome your enemies back into your house?

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