SET-1: Seasons of Elijah-Cross-Moses
Besides parables, the miracles the evangelists selected to present in the gospels have spiritual meanings and messages. The blind man, who sought the mercy of Jesus at Jericho, had the conviction that Jesus was the Messiah. He was hoping to meet Jesus to ask for regaining his sight because only the “Son of David” could do such a miracle. Considering his faith far advanced than those who have physical sight, Jesus offered him sight and salvation by saying, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” The result was that he got sight and became a follower of Jesus. We should seek eternal salvation through the spiritual sight that Jesus, the Light of the World, offers.
(Luke 18:35) When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. (36) As he heard the crowd passing by, he asked what was happening, (37) and they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Then he cried out, (38) “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (39) The people in front scolded him, telling him to keep quiet, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (40) Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him, and when he came near, he asked him, (41) “What do you want me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!” (42) Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” (43) At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God.
(Lk 18:35) When Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road, begging.
A comparison of the three gospel accounts
All the Synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) narrate Jesus’ miracle giving eyesight to a blind beggar at Jericho (Mt 20:29- 34; Mk 10:46-52). That shows the popularity and importance of the miracle among the early Christian community when the evangelists finished the gospels. There are slight variations in the three presentations.
When Jesus drew near to Jericho.
According to Saint Luke, the event happened when Jesus was entering Jericho. However, in Matthew and Mark, it happened when Jesus was leaving Jericho. Bible scholars give different explanations to clarify the difference:
1. There could be two similar events that happened in Jericho. One that happened when Jesus entered Jericho, and another when he left Jericho. This is not a widely accepted explanation.
2. The blind man approached Jesus at the gate of Jericho when Jesus entered the city. Jesus did not heal the beggar at once because Jesus did not hear his cry at first or tested his faith by not answering for a while. The Lord healed the blind man when Jesus was leaving Jericho to go to Jerusalem.
3. There was the old city of Jericho and the new city King Herod constructed. The miracle happened in between the two cities. That means, it occurred when Jesus was leaving the old city and entering the new city. So, both leaving and entering the city could be correct.
Jericho was famous in the history of Israel because the Israelites captured Canaan by first conquering the city of Jericho under Joshua’s leadership and with God’s miraculous intervention (Josh chapter 6). This city had other names: the “City of Palms” and later the “City of Perfumes.”
The Jews from Galilee, while going to Jerusalem, avoided straight journey through Samaria because of their animosity towards the Samaritans. So, they used to travel east, crossing River Jordan, and heading south. Again, they used to cross back the River Jordan and pass through the city of Jericho to go west 18 miles to reach Jerusalem. Jesus was also passing through this city when the blind beggar approached him.
A blind man
While Mark and Luke mention only one blind man, Matthew mentions two blind men. Mark even gives the name of the blind man as “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.” The interpreters clarify that there might have been two blind men as Matthew presents. However, one of them became a popular disciple of Jesus in the early church. So, the evangelists focused on him and Mark mentioned his name.
Sitting by the road, begging
The blind man had no other provision than begging. He had no family support. The roadside was the best place for him to beg for alms because the Jews were passing through Jericho to go to the Temple for worship.
(36) As he heard the crowd passing by, he asked what was happening
As he heard the crowd passing by
The blind man heard an unusual crowd passing by. Normally, the blind people are sharper in hearing because those who lose one sense will focus more on the other senses. The people were passing to go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. So, an enormous crowd used to go during that season. An unusual crowd gathered because Jesus, who performed many miracles, especially the raising of Lazarus on the fourth day after his burial, was an attraction for the crowd to congregate around Jesus.
The blind man wanted to identify who was passing by or what unusual thing was happening. His enquiry helped him to seek Jesus’ attention for his healing. He was waiting for a chance to meet Jesus, who had been healing the blind, to seek healing for himself.
(37) And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. Then he cried out
Jesus (Joshua) was a popular name many Jews used. To distinguish persons with the same name, people supplemented a person’s proper name with other features like the town of origin. Since Jesus lived at Nazareth from childhood, the public knew him as Jesus of Nazareth. Philip had introduced Jesus to Nathaniel calling him, “Jesus of Nazareth” (Jn 1:45). Since Jesus became popular among the public with that name, the people answered to the blind man that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing by.
(38) “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus, Son of David
“Son of David” was a Messianic title originating from the covenant God made with King David around 1000 years before Christ. When King David asked permission from God through Prophet Nathan to construct a house for the Lord, the Lord did not permit him. However, God promised David that He would fulfil it through his son (2 Sam 7:12-17). Who was this son through whom God fulfilled the promises? God fulfilled some through Solomon, the biological son and successor of David. The Lord fulfilled the rest through the Messiah, the seed of Eve (Gen 3:14-15) and a greater son from the lineage of David.
Though Solomon built the Temple, the promise of God that “I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam 7:13) did not happen during Solomon’s reign which lasted 40-years. He sinned in idolatry, especially during his later years. So, God said, “If he does wrong, I will reprove him with a human rod and with human punishments” (2 Sam 7:14). God continued in verse 16: “He shall build a house for my name and I will firmly establish his kingship forever.” God repeated “forever” thrice (verses 13 and 16) emphasizing the everlasting nature of the kingship of David’s greater son.
Solomon, like his predecessors Saul and David, reigned only 40 years. Because of God’s promise to David that his son would establish his kingdom forever, the Israelites have been hoping for an everlasting king from the line of David. God revealed this descendant of David through the Angel Gabriel to Mary, the mother of the Messiah. “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end” (Lk 1:32-33). Matthew starts his gospel stating: “This is a record of the origins of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” The Bible uses “son of David” 17 times in the New Testament for Jesus, meaning that he was the promised and long- awaited Messiah. The people acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah by proclaiming, “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt 21:9) during his triumphant entry into the Temple of Jerusalem.
The blind man had the spiritual insight to recognise Jesus as the Messiah. Though the crowd introduced Jesus to him as “Jesus of Nazareth,” he proclaimed Jesus as the promised son of David. In the three Synoptic gospels, the blind beggar addressed Jesus twice saying, “Son of David.” That caught Jesus’ attention.
Have pity on me!
The blind man realized that it was his best opportunity to get cured of blindness because only the Messiah could make it happen. Isaiah had prophesied about the Messianic times: “out of the obscurity and darkness the eyes of the blind will see” (Isa 29:18). Everyone else who had mercy on him gave him money or food. Jesus had no money to give. However, he had the power to heal him and forgive his sins that caused blindness (Jn 9:2).
(39) The people in front scolded him, telling him to keep quiet, but he cried out all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
The crowd that went in front of Jesus tried to stop the blind beggar’s cry, probably because of the following reasons. Many coming from faraway places might not have seen Jesus before, but had heard much about him, especially the unique miracle of raising Lazarus on the fourth day after his burial. The cry might have turned out to be a disturbance for them while trying to listen to Jesus. Some others might have wanted to silence the beggar because they were not happy that the beggar was addressing Jesus as “the son of David.” The selfish people hadn’t the slightest concern for the beggar’s plight.
They wanted him to get out of the way.
The blind beggar was sure that it was ‘make or break’ time. If he missed this opportunity, he might never get it again. So, he screamed after Jesus at the top of his voice. He did not care about what others might think. He repeated his faith in the Messiahship of Jesus by saluting him again as the “Son of David.”
(40) Jesus stopped and ordered the blind man to be brought to him, and when he came near, he asked him…
Ordered the blind man to be brought to him
The crowd was so large and pushing around Jesus that it was hard for Jesus to get out of the human wall around him. So, he requested the crowd to bring the blind man to him. In his public ministry, Jesus did not miss any opportunity to help others in need, especially those who came seeking his help. In our life journey to heaven, we also should not bypass any whom we can help and who needs our help. Jesus wants us to bring others to him so he can save them. The people who brought the blind man to Jesus saw a great miracle Jesus performed that made them glorify God.
(41) “What do you want me to do for you?” And the man said, “Lord, that I may see!”
When the blind beggar and Jesus finally came face to face, Jesus asked him to express his specific desire. Seeking mercy can be for any benefit. By the beggar’s request for sight, he was expressing his faith in the Son of God, whom he believed could restore his sight. The blind man is an example for us on what to ask in our intercessory prayers. More than material benefits, we should seek the help of God to gain spiritual sight, so we can see how to enter the eternal Kingdom of God.
Since the beggar asked for sight and not alms, Jesus gave him physical and spiritual sight. He became a disciple of Jesus and a popular one among the early Christians. When we ask the Lord for our spiritual growth and eternal salvation, God will supply us with whatever else we need. We need not present an extensive list of material benefits from the Lord.
(42) Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you”
Along with physical sight, Jesus gave the blind man salvation. Salvation is a gift of God that we reach by faith. The blind man proclaimed in public his faith in Jesus as the “Son of David.” He responded to Jesus’ call and followed him as a disciple. Since he became a popular disciple, Mark recorded his name in the gospel. His blindness had turned out to be a blessing for him. Many who had physical sight could not gain salvation from Jesus because of their lack of faith, despite their ability to see Jesus and witness the signs and wonders he performed.
(43) At once the blind man was able to see, and he followed Jesus, giving praise to God. And all the people who were there also praised God
Jesus healed the blind man by speaking out a command and a commendation. The man who had only heard Jesus’ voice could now see him physically. He experienced the power of the “son of David” in action in his life. The healed man glorified God, who did the miraculous healing for him. He expressed his gratitude by becoming a disciple of Jesus.
This miracle was one of the last ones that Jesus performed because he was on the way to Jerusalem for his self-sacrifice.
So, people got to see another great miracle. Many people who had heard of Jesus’ miracles but never seen them, now saw it happen before their very eyes. So they glorified God. To glorify God means to acknowledge the splendour of the one and true God and give Him honour by praising and worshipping Him.
1. The blind beggar was spiritually far higher than those who used to give him alms. He had a spiritual insight while others were spiritually blind and could not recognize the Messiah in Jesus. We shall not underestimate the less fortunate in society. They might be more pleasing to God and might have a better place in the Kingdom of God than us.
2. The people who walked in front of Jesus rebuked the blind man for making noise. Our friends or others might discourage us from approaching Jesus or going to church. The blind man got sight because he approached Jesus with his faith and did not yield to those who tried to shut him up.
3. Jesus sought the help of the surrounding people to bring the blind man to him. He wants us to help him bring others to the church so he may save them.
4. During his public ministry, Jesus did not miss any opportunity to help others in need and those who came seeking his help. In our life journey to heaven, let us also make use of all occasions to help others.
5. To Jesus’ question of what he wanted, the blind man replied: “Lord, please let me see.” What do we ask of the Lord for us in our prayers? The beggar could have asked for money, house, or any other needs. Instead, he asked for a permanent solution to his issue. Our request to God shall be the spiritual sight needed to reach heaven. Our prayers for others also shall be the same.
6. Jesus told the blind beggar that his faith had saved him. Let us also build up our faith for our salvation.
7. When the blind man regained his sight, he followed Jesus and gave glory to God. That encouraged others also to praise God.
8. Like Jesus, let us be compassionate to others and help them materially and spiritually. Let us also teach our children the lessons of mercy and charity.