The Miracles of Jesus Part 34: Jesus Restores Sight to Bartimaeus Near Jericho
Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, Luke 18:35-43 - Learn and KNOW and defend the word of God and be insistent in prayer like Bartimaeus!
“As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly told them to be quiet, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They *said to Him, “Lord, we want our eyes to be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him.”
Matthew 20:29-34 NASB1995
“Then they *came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they *called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road.”
Mark 10:46-52 NASB1995
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“As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.”
Luke 18:35-43 NASB1995
The next miracle is one of the last documented before Jesus enters Jerusalem at Passover week before His crucifixion. In earlier passages in the Gospels just before this event, Jesus contends with the ego of the mother of John and James (believed to be Salome, who is in one of the groups of women at the tomb), who pleads with Him to favor her sons. He also preaches parables that illustrate how the “last shall be the first” and that He came to serve. The photo I selected shows the stark desert area near Jericho; the old city of Jericho is located near the Jordan river downhill and northeast from Jerusalem. The map below clearly shows the relationship between the towns:
So, an astute non-believing reader of these passages who also loves to point out “discrepancies” in the synoptic Gospels would have a field day with this miracle as it is presented in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Gospel of Matthew talks about two anonymous blind men, The Gospel of Mark has a name for a single blind man in those passages, and the Gospel of Luke refers to a single man without a name. Matthew talks about the Lord touching their eyes, but the other two passages make no mention of this. Matthew and Mark also talk about this happening after the group leaves Jericho, but Luke notes that it happens before they reach Jericho. It is up to believers to understand how to answer those “gotcha” questions, because they are so frequent in the enemy’s attacks on Christianity. We must know the Word to defend its inerrancy and its message!
Here is what the marvelous Gotquestions Bible answer site says about this:
In spite of apparent discrepancies, these three passages do refer to the same incident. The Matthew account cites two men healed as Jesus left Jericho. Mark and Luke refer to only one blind man healed, but Luke says it happened as Jesus was entering Jericho while Mark records it happening as He left Jericho. There are legitimate explanations for the apparent discrepancies. Let’s look at them rather than deciding this is a contradiction and the Bible is in error.
That this is the same incident is seen in the similarity of the accounts, beginning with the two beggars sitting on the roadside. They call out to Jesus, referring to Him as “Son of David” (Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:48; Luke 18:38), and in all three accounts, they are rebuked by those nearby and told to be quiet but continue to shout out to Jesus (Matthew 20:31; Mark 10:48; Luke 18:39). The three accounts describe nearly identical conversations between Jesus and the beggars and the conclusions of the stories are also identical. The beggars receive their sight immediately and follow Jesus.
Only Mark choses to identify one of the beggars as Bartimaeus, perhaps because Bartimaeus was known to Mark’s readers, or they knew Bartimaeus’s father, Timaeus, whereas the other blind man was a stranger to them. In any case, the fact that Mark and Luke only mention one beggar does not contradict Matthew’s account. Mark and Luke never say there was only one beggar. They simply focus on the one, Bartimaeus, who was probably the more vocal of the two. Matthew refers to both of the blind men calling out to Jesus, clearly indicating there were two.
The other issue in question is whether Jesus was entering Jericho or leaving it. Bible commentators cite the fact that at that time there were two Jerichos—one the mound of the ancient city (still existing today) and the other the inhabited city of Jericho. Therefore, Jesus could have healed the two men as He was leaving the ancient city of Jericho and entering the new city of Jericho.
In any case, to focus on these minor details to the exclusion of all else is to miss the point of the story—Jesus healed the blind men, proving that He was indeed the Son of God with powers beyond anything a mortal man could have. Unlike the Pharisees who refused to see what was before their eyes, our response to Jesus should be the same as that of the blind men—call on Him to give us eyes to see spiritual truth, recognize Him for who He is, and follow Him.
Modern-day Pharisees see minor detail differences and point and say “Aha! Your Gospels aren’t 100% in agreement in every tiny detail, therefore Jesus never existed” (quite the leap of logic). I used to be one of those “Pharisees”, eagerly reading commentary in the secular magazines that I received in the mail that magnified and distorted things like this and used it to cast long shadows of doubt on Jesus. It’s funny, those same magazines and groups rarely took on the religion of Islam, but were obsessed with denying Jesus. I also talked about this in the devotional about the temple tax in the mouth of the fish and how the secular Wikipedia website uses subtle language to cast doubt on that miracle because there is no “follow-through”. As readers know, the miracles before the Resurrection that I have researched have four-Gospel synchronicity in only case - the feeding of the 5000+. The point is that this miracle (and all of the others) really happened and one or two very vocal blind men (most likely two, with one being named Bartimaeus) were healed because of their tenacity.
Now, looking at this miracle in the Gospel of Mark (because the blind man is named), the key takeaway for believers is the tenacity of this man. He hears the crowd and finds out that Jesus is passing by. He cries out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”. The disciples and the crowd try to hush him up, but Bartimaeus is not having it. He continues to call out to Jesus and He asks for the man (or men) to be brought to Him. He asks Bartimaeus what he wants and he simply states: “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight”. Rabboni is a title that means “great master” and he is expressing his humility before the Lord. Jesus proclaims him healed and says “Go, your faith has made your well.” So where does he go? Right into the entourage, to follow the Lord!
I really like this commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik, on the power of this prayer from Bartimaeus:
Rabboni, that I may receive my sight: The title Rabboni “is a strengthened form of ‘Rabbi,’ and means ‘my lord,’ ‘my master.’” (Lane) When Bartimaeus said this, he expressed his humble submission towards Jesus.
The specific nature of Bartimaeus’ request is a good example for our prayers. “Have mercy on me” is general, but his prayer moved from the general to the specific request, “that I may receive my sight.”
“Rest assured that those are the best prayers in all respects, if they be earnest and sincere, which go most directly to the point. You know there is a way of praying in the closet, and praying in the family, in which you do not ask for anything. You say a great many good things, introduce much of your own experience, review the doctrines of grace very thoughtfully, but you do not ask for anything in particular. Such prayer is always uninteresting to listen to, and I think it must be rather tedious to those who offer it.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Go your way; your faith has made you well: The faith of the blind man saved him because it was a specific kind of faith.
It was faith that was determined to reach Jesus (he cried out all the more).
It was faith that knew who Jesus was (Son of David).
It was faith that came humbly to Jesus (have mercy on me).
It was faith that humbly submitted to Jesus (Rabboni).
It was faith that could tell Jesus what it wanted (that I may receive my sight).
The example of the prayer of Bartimaeus is worth emulating. Start with a general plea (have mercy on me) said with determination (ask, seek and knock) and move to the simply stated specific request. Steve and I try to do this in our intercessory prayers as much as we can in the supplication passages that we use, as well as the prayers of thankfulness and gratitude. Confession should also follow a very specific course, not just asking in general for forgiveness for “whatever I did this week”.
So what did we learn from this miracle?
Jesus heals Bartimaeus on the road from Jericho: Jesus is heading to His destiny in Jerusalem and the entourage is interrupted by the fervent pleas from Bartimaeus and another companion (as noted in Matthew). They beg for mercy and ask for healing of their blindness. Jesus heals them instantly and with compassion and Bartimaeus (as named in Mark) joins the followers. For believers, we need to pray earnestly and specifically and we also need to reject and refute the negative naysayers who point out every tiny variation in the Gospels as hard evidence that none of it happened. The Gospels were written with the guidance of the Holy Spirit who led four men with different observations and writing styles and eyewitness testimonies to paint a complete and true portrait of the Savior.
My next devotional examines a strange miracle where Jesus withers an unfruitful fig tree that He sees on the road from Bethany (documented in Matthew and Mark). NOTE: I will include the complete list of miracles as a reference again in the summary I will write about what we have learned in all of these miracles.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - Have mercy on me, Lord, and help me to make my prayers effective and specific. Thank you for the inspiration of the Gospels and for the true story of Jesus, who is our salvation and redeemer. Amen
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word by David Guzik is used with written permission.
Gotquestions.org is a Bible answer website run by the Got Questions Ministry.
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