After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Restores Sight to Two Blind Men
And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
In our previous post we looked at Luke 18, where Jesus healed an anonymous blind man as He entered Jericho. In this post,we will meet Bartimaeus, presumably the beggar who stole the show in his interaction with the Lord. In Matthew’s account, as he refers to two blind men, some would claim a contradiction, yet Mark does not say that there was only one blind man, but that the story centers around Bartimaeus, one who may have been the dominant character of the two.
I have provided the following table, as in the last post, for the readers convenience in comparing the gospel narratives on blind men being healed near the city of Jericho.
|Matthew 20:30-34||Mark 10:46-52||Luke 18:35-43|
|Two Blind Men||One Blind Man||One Blind Man|
|No names given||Named – Bartimaeus||No name given|
|Not defined – two men sitting by the roadside||A beggar||In the act of begging|
|Healed as Jesus left Jericho||Healed as Jesus left Jericho||Healed as Jesus entered Jericho|
Let’s dig into the encounter Jesus and His disciples have as they leave the city of Jericho.
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
The audience hasn’t changed much from the earlier miracle as He entered Jericho, other than the crowd is described as “great”, implying numbers have been added to it (at least the formerly blind man may be joined to the crowd). The disciples were with Him. And of course, the two blind men who would recieve from the hand of the Master thier request.
When did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.
Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?
And Jesus in pity touched their eyes
Matthew speaks of the Lord’s motivation as “pity.” Compassion drove the Lord to heal these two men.
The impact of the call of Jesus upon Bartimaeus is somewhat startling, for upon Jesus’ call, as Mark 10:50 recounts Bartimaeus threw off his cloak, sprang up and came to Jesus.
He threw off his cloak. In my study, I have found that beggars in Israel, during the first century, were to wear cloaks that designated them as beggars, a requirement for a beggar to wear, so that the general population would know of thier “occupation”, or position in life. For Barimaeus to toss off the cloak indicates that he fully expected healing from the Son of David and rejected his prior life style.
This is faith in a nutshell. He gave up his prior life, even rejecting it, due to the hope he had in the Savior. And the response Jesus had for this exhuberant exhibition of faith? A question, a blank check offered to the blind man from the Son of David, the ruler of Israel and the nations.
What do you want me to do for you?
What was the message for the original audience?
For the blind men, pity, or compassion seems to be the motivation for the Lord to provide this mighty work for the blind men. Beyond this, I would like to suggest a possible additional reason that the Lord healed two blind men. You see, He had just reponded to a question previously with the very same response. As He asked the blind men “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51), so He did in an earlier discussion with James and John, when they asked Jesus for positions above the rest of the disciples.
Consider the request of James and John.
Mark 10:36-37 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
Jesus gives exactly the same response to the blind men, to Bartimaeus. Of course the motivation was completely different, for the two disciples were looking for position, glory, status and an advantage over thier fellow disciples. The blind men, on ther other hand, were reaching out to Jesus as the rightful King of Israel, calling Him Son of David, and asking for sight, not status.
Two men, each of them in two different situations with two different results. Yet only one response from the Master. Might He be reminding James and John a wee bit of thier request, showing the result of good motivations in a request as being effective in getting the Lord’s ear? Both parties were looking to the Lord as the Son of David, One who would reign, yet the disciples were looking for position and advantage, while the blind men simply to see.
What is the message for us today?
There is an element in the Christian church that seeks to obtain authority over others within the church. I have been in enough congregations to recognize “believers” that seek to obtain office, to obtain leadership over others, to be in control and to have others perform according to thier wishes, desires and demands. Of course I cannot judge motivation, for that is the Lord’s arena, and I would happily recieve correction if I am wrong, yet the general condition of the modern church seems to be rifled with men and women who use church ministries to gain a type of political power. James and John may want to correct us on that attitude, and remind us that Jesus taught that those who seek greatness must be as slaves of all.
As for the blind men, the message today is a message of an upside down kingdom, where the blind see Jesus clearly, while those of us who claim to follow may be blind ourselves, as James an John were, to the type of Savior they followed.
What “type” of Savior do you follow? Is He primarily One who is doling out authrity over others, of providing power over others to the saints who seek it, or is He the suffering slave of all, the One who is calling us to follow in His footsteps, to be countercultural, to not be as the Gentiles who rule over others? To not mimic those who exercise authority over others?
How do you see the Savior?
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