Two Blind Men Receive Sight
As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. Behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, You son of David!" The multitude rebuked them, telling them that they should be quiet, but they cried out even more, "Lord, have mercy on us, You son of David!"
Jesus stood still, and called them, and asked, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
They told Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened."
Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed Him.
Jesus asked the blind man what they wanted Him to do. What do you want Jesus to do for you?
Relentless Faith and Great Compassion - Matthew 20:29-34
v.29: This next episode plays a strategic role in the Gospel history. For the traveler to Jerusalem, coming from the Trans-Jordan, Jericho is the last city before Jerusalem. The capital was only some 15 miles from Jericho on a main road. You will notice that the next paragraph in Matthew’s Gospel concerns the Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Imagine the scene. Jesus is not alone with His disciples on this road through Jericho. It is crowded with pilgrims heading to Jerusalem for Passover. We know from the other Gospels that popular excitement over the possibility that Jesus was the Messiah, fueled by His miracles and by His teaching, was now reaching a fever pitch. Passover was, in any case, the most patriotic time of year for the Jews. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that a crowd of people would have attached themselves to Jesus to walk with Him toward Jerusalem. This dramatic miracle, witnessed by so many people, would only have inflamed people’s expectations the more. News of it would have reached Jerusalem only a few hours later. In Matthew’s account the pre-Jerusalem ministry concludes with this miracle. We know from the other Gospels that, in fact, some days were to elapse before Palm Sunday. But take note, it was to be the crowds’ disappointment … Jesus, His failure to meet their expectations that would secure His execution some days later. They were looking for a political deliver not a Redeemer.
v.30: Mark names one of these blind men: Bartimaeus. The fact that his name was known probably is an indication that he was known among the believers as a disciple of Jesus. The fact that he is named only in Mark, which is, as you remember, Peter’s Gospel, may indicate that he was a personal acquaintance or friend of the Apostle Peter.
When the blind men call Jesus “Son of David,” they are calling Him Messiah, for that is what the title meant. Even beggars on the street knew of the remarkable ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and were caught up in the excitement generated by the growing belief that the Messiah had appeared. They knew of the miracles of healing that Jesus had performed and they hoped for something for themselves.
v.31: It is entirely typical that the demonstration of Jesus’ Messiah ship should have been provided in a work of compassion and kindness that the crowd thought was beneath His dignity. How little they understood of what was to come.
How often in the NT is true and living faith in Christ described as a conviction of Christ’s willingness and ability to help, as no one else can, that it refuses to take “no” for an answer. These are men who believed in Christ’s power to save them.
v.32: By stopping and attending to these blind beggars Jesus is once more overturning and repudiating the popular understanding of what the Messiah would be and would do.
v.33: If you were blind is this not what you would ask for? There is no account of the giving of sight to the blind in the OT, no such miracle performed by Moses or Elijah or Elisha. Nor is there any such miracle reported in the NT as having been performed by the apostles after Pentecost. But there are more miracles of this type, giving sight to the blind, reported among the healing miracles of the Lord than of any other type of healing miracle. Perhaps that is because in the Old Testament, giving sight to the blind was not only something that God alone could do, but further, something that the Messiah would do!
“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.” [Isa. 35:5]
“Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen one in whom I delight…I will keep You and will make You to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind and to free captives from prison… [Isa. 42:7]
To open the eyes of the blind is supremely a revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Messiah.
But, as we have also often noticed, the Lord’s miracles were important not only for the proof they provided of the Lord’s credentials as the Messiah, they were also pictures of the salvation that Jesus had come into the world to provide. The dead being raised, the demon possessed being restored to sound mind, the leper cleansed, and the blind given his sight are not only astonishing works of divine power, works that no one could perform but someone who had been given power from on high, but all are ways in which the Bible describes the nature of salvation. We are dead in sins and in Christ we are made alive. We are slaves of the Devil but Christ sets us free. We are impure, as the leper, but Christ makes us clean. And we are blind, we cannot see the truth about God, about the world, about ourselves, about the way of salvation, and Christ opens our eyes to see the truth that sets men free.
In the case of the man born blind, whose healing John records in the 9th chapter of his Gospel, this point is made explicitly: the granting sight to the blind in the physical sense, miracle that it was, was a picture of the giving of spiritual sight to the spiritually blind. There Jesus said,
“For this I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” [v. 39]
The Lord was speaking to the intransigent Pharisees and telling them that no matter how good their physical vision, they were blind spiritually, and the proof was that the Son of God was standing in front of them and they couldn’t see Him for what He was, no matter the miracles, no matter the truth that was on His lips, no matter the perfect goodness of His life. He said that if they thought they were seeing, as they did, they would remain blind.
Think of, John Rug, the missionary to Chile, who also was born blind, was born blind in both senses, but later as a young man was given sight by the Lord Jesus Christ. For some years yet he will not be able to see in the physical sense, but he has for many years been able to see in the more important sense. Indeed, those who know John will say of him that he has very acute vision when it comes to seeing the truth and the light that is in Jesus Christ. And, in the same way, we know many people who have very good eyesight, but who are blind as bats when it comes to seeing what is truly and eternally important.
This point is made here also in Matthew. We have noticed the last two words of our text: these two men whom Jesus had healed of their blindness followed Him. Those are potent words in Matthew. These men became Christ’s followers right then and there. We might have expected them to go to the city and seek out their relatives and see their homes for the first time, but they followed Jesus. They became followers of Jesus and, in so doing, they proved that they saw more clearly who Jesus was and what He had come into the world to do than did the multitudes on the road that day who had never been blind but who couldn’t see the truth when it was standing before them and being demonstrated in the most spectacular ways. They followed Jesus. They knew that their lives must from this point on be bound up with Him. They knew that physical sight was, by no means, the only thing; it was not even the most important thing they would receive from Him.
In this marvelous event, we have the entire message of the gospel summed up. Christ Jesus is the Son of God and the Messiah sent into the world to bring salvation to human beings who all are in desperate need of salvation and who cannot save themselves. What all men are summoned to do is to acknowledge that Jesus Christ and He alone has eternal life in His hands, He and He alone brings the truth which sets men and women free, and then to seek that life and that truth from hand and set out to living according to it. There are many human beings who would rather starve than come to any feast that is set by the Son of God, who would rather remain in darkness if the price of seeing the light is to confess that one is as needy and has been as bad as Christ says. But, there are those who, by God’s grace, see themselves blind and hungry and sick and see Christ offering sight, a feast, and eternal health, and they take it from their hands and the rest of their lives they are found telling others, “I was blind, but now I see.”
Imagine what it must have been for those men as they stood up able to see for the first time, no doubt able to see with perfectly sharp vision. Imagine what it must have been for them to see everything for the first time, see what everything looked like that they had only had described to them before; saw colors, saw faces, saw the city of Jericho, saw their parents, their siblings, and their homes. All that day long and for some days after, they would have closed their eyes to imagine themselves back in their blindness and then open them to exult in their being able at last to see? Perhaps they fellows wore people out over the next weeks talking endlessly about how everything appeared to them that they had never been able to see before. How different the appearance of things must have to what they had imagined during the years, never having been able to see, never known what anything looked like! There were two happy men!
It is not hard to see how similar it must be for a man who has been spiritually blind, but, through faith in Christ, now sees things as they truly are with the clearest vision, whose eyes the Lord Christ has opened by His Holy Spirit. How many Christians, through the ages, have thought of their salvation in just these terms: “I was blind, but now I see.”
Thomas Halliburton, one of the great figures of Scottish Christianity in the 18th century, in his magnificent autobiography, describes his coming to faith in Christ as a young man in just this way. Indeed, here is the way he begins his account:
“I cannot be very positive about the day or hour of this deliverance, nor can I satisfy many other questions about the way and manner of it. But this is of no consequence, if the work is in substance sound, for ‘the wind bloweth where it listeth; and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (John iii. 8) Many things about the way and manner we may be ignorant of, while we are sufficiently sure of the effects. As to these things, I must say with the blind man, ‘I know not: one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see.”
Through the reading of the Word of God and praying for light, the Lord came to him and opened his eyes near the end of January in 1698. And that is how he puts it and how he thought about his conversion. It was an opening of his blind eyes. Indeed words like “see” and “sight” are found all through the account. And true Puritan that he was, he proceeded to describe in nine particulars. He says it was 1) a heavenly light, it shone above me, it opened heaven to me, and led me up, as it were, to heaven; 2) a true light, exposing the falsehoods about himself and the world and God that he had so long entertained; 3) a pleasant light; 4) a distinct and clear light; 5) a satisfying light; 6) a refreshing and healing light, it warmed him and his life; 7) a great light; 8) a powerful light, dissipating the thick darkness that had overspread his mind; and 9) a composing light; not like lightning that appears in a moment and disappears leaving terror behind, but composed and quieted his soul that had been troubled about so many things. Then he concludes, “…I know that no words can express the notion that the weakest Christian, who has his eyes opened, really has of [the glory of this light.] … No words can convey a true notion of light to the blind; and he that has eyes…will need no words to describe it.” [Memoirs, 99-104]
Perhaps the blind men to whom the Lord gave sight would have described their experience in very similar terms? And, finally, they exulted far more in the spiritual sight that they had been given, the knowledge of Christ and salvation, than the sight of his eyes. More than once in the remaining years of those men’s lives they assuredly told people that they would rather have remained blind all their days if in their physical blindness they had been given to see Christ and the way to heaven than to be given their eyesight but never the sight of Christ or heaven.
Is it not extraordinary that we in our modern world, so different in many ways from the world of Jericho in the first century, should understand immediately what happened to those two men, should find their experience immediately relevant to our own. How little the world has really changed, because the human heart has not changed. How perfectly the Bible describes the universal experience of man in sin and man in salvation!
Let’s hope we are all touched by the wonder of this miracle and the glorious effect it had upon these two men. That we see afresh and anew the wonder of God’s graces that has given us sight when otherwise we would have remained blind. The world is full of blind people with 20/20 eyesight. They walk through this world utterly oblivious to the spiritual world all around them, to God their Creator, to the looming Day of Judgment, to heaven or hell that awaits every person at the end. How wonderful when a man or a woman is given to see! To see God and Christ and the way that leads to the world of everlasting joy! We’ve seen people get their sight and there is nothing more wonderful in the entire world!
But there is something more here that deserves our careful attention. Matthew makes a point of saying that Jesus healed these blind men because He had compassion on them. This great deliverance, the physical one and the far greater eternal and spiritual one that it symbolized, came to these two benighted men living in darkness because Jesus had compassion on them.
This is not the only place in the Gospel where a great healing was performed because Jesus had compassion on the sufferer. In 9:36 we are told that Christ’s preaching of the good news to the crowds was motivated by His compassion for them in their lostness. In 14:14 we read that Christ healed the sick that were brought to Him in large numbers because He had compassion on them. In 15:32 we read that He provided food for the 4000 because He had compassion on that Gentile company.
The word that is translated “had compassion on” in the NIV is connected with the noun for the entrails, the viscera, the inner organs which, in that culture were regarded as the seat of the emotions. One scholar of the language of the New Testament writes that, in distinction from the word “heart,” this is “a more blunt, forceful and unequivocal term.” It is interesting, by the way, that Greeks thought of strong emotion ordinarily in terms of anger; Christians, on the other hand, thought of compassion. This word, “has compassion” is always connected with Jesus in the New Testament. What we have here is not mere human pity, but divine compassion for troubled people filling a human heart. We have the heart of the Son of God going out to those in great need. We have here not only the record of one of the breathtaking miracles that Jesus performed but a picture of salvation coming to lost men, then this compassion is part of that beautiful picture.
How does the life-giving power of God in Christ come to men and women in our day?
“We are fooling ourselves if we [think] that we can ever make the authentic gospel popular … It’s too simple in an age of rationalism; too narrow in an age of pluralism; too humiliating in an age of self-confidence; too demanding in an age of permissiveness…. What are we going to share with our friends? [Dudley Smith, John Stott, ii, 267]
We can share the light, the sight that Christ gave to these blind men with the blind men around us. We cannot give physical sight to the blind, but we can shed the light on the spiritual blindness of those around us. But what will make them pay attention to us and receive our words? If we speak for the same reason that Jesus did so. Love breaks into blindness like nothing else. Love can make a self-confident man realize his terrible need, a man who thinks he sees suddenly realize that he has lived his whole life in darkness.
The world around us is full of the blind. They are not crying out on purpose, in many cases, as these blind men did near Jericho, but their circumstances are evidence of their darkness. Their condition is obvious enough to us. We can see that they cannot see. We can often see the misery that must be endured by the blind. Surely, we who have received Christ’s love should have compassion for those who are as we were and who must remain so unless someone should bring the light to them. Does the love of Christ constrain us?
How shall we become compassionate as He was? How shall we have the power to cut through the darkness in which so many live?
Nothing is more likely to make it a power in our lives, this compassion for others, than simply to stare long and hard at those two happy men who got up from the side of the road where they had spent so many long, miserable days, got up to follow Jesus, every now and then kicking up their heels unable to believe that they could really see! And not only see, but live and live forever. Surely any Christian must want to see many others as happy as that!
Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43
29. And while they were departing from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. 30. And, lo, two blind men sitting near the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried aloud, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 31. And the multitude rebuked them, that they might be silent; but they cried out the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 32. And Jesus stood, and called them, and said, What do you wish that I should do to you? 33. They say to Him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.
46. And they come to Jericho: and while they was departing from the city Jericho, and His disciples, and a great multitude, Bartimeus, son of Timeus, a blind man, was sitting hear the road begging. 47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry aloud, and to say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 48. And many rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. 49. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying to him, Be of good courage, rise; he calleth thee.50. And he, throwing away his mantle, arose, and came to Jesus. 51. And Jesus answering, saith to him, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And the blind man said to Him, Master, 668668 “Rabboni;” — “Maistre.” that I may receive sight. 52 And Jesus said to him, Go away; thy faith hath cured thee. And immediately he received sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
35. And it happened that, while He was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting near the road begging: 36. And when he heard a multitude passing by, he asked what it was. 37. And they said to him, that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38. And he cried out, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 39. And they that were going before rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me.40. And Jesus, standing still, commanded him to be brought to him: and while He was approaching, He asked him, 41. Saying, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive sight. 42. Then Jesus said to him, Receive sight: thy faith hath cred thee. 43. And immediately he received sight, and followed Him, glorifying God: and all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Matthew 20:29: And while they were departing from Jericho. Osiander has resolved to display his ingenuity by making four blind men out of one. But nothing can be more frivolous than this supposition. Having observed that the Evangelists differ in a few expressions, he imagined that one blind man received sight when they were entering into the city, and that the second, and other two, received sight when Christ was departing from it. But all the circumstances agree so completely, that no person of sound judgment will believe them to be different narratives. Not to mention other matters, when Christ’s followers had endeavored to put the first to silence, and saw him cured contrary to their expectation, would they immediately have made the same attempt with the other three? But it is unnecessary to go into particulars, from which any man may easily infer that it is one and the same event which is related.
But there is a puzzling contradiction in this respect, that Matthew and Mark say that the miracle was performed on one or on two blind men, when Christ had already departed from the city; while Luke relates that it was done before He came to the city. Besides, Mark and Luke speak of not more than one blind man, while Matthew mentions two. But as we know that it frequently occurs in the Evangelists, that in the same narrative one passes by what is mentioned by the others, and, on the other hand, states more clearly what they have omitted, it ought not to be looked upon as strange or unusual in the present passage.
The conjecture is, that, while Christ was approaching to the city, the blind man cried out, but that, as he was not heard on account of the noise, he placed himself in the way, as they were departing from the city, “Mais pource qu’il ne peut estre ouy a cause du bruit du peuple, qu’il s’en alla, l’autre porte de la ville par laquelle Christ devoit sortir, pour l’attendre la au chemin;” “but, because he could not be heard on account of the noise of the people, that he went away to the other gate by which Christ was to go out, to wait for Him there on the road.” and then was at length called by Christ. And so Luke, commencing with what was true, does not follow out the whole narrative, but passes over Christ’s stay in the city; while the other Evangelists attend only to the time which was nearer to the miracle. There is probability in the conjecture that, as Christ frequently, when He wished to try the faith of men, delayed for a short time to relieve them, so He subjected this blind man to the same scrutiny.
The second difficulty may be speedily removed; for we have seen, on a former occasion, that Mark and Luke speak of one demoniac as having been cured, while Matthew, as in the present instance, mentions two, (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27) And yet this involves no contradiction between them; but it may rather be conjectured with probability, that at first one blind man implored the favor of Christ, and that another was excited by his example, and that in this way two persons received sight Mark and Luke speak of one only, either because he was better known, or because in him the demonstration of been on account of his having been extensively known that he was selected by Mark, who gives both his own name and that of his father: Bartimeus, son of Timeus By doing so, he does not claim for him either illustrious descent or wealth; for he was a beggar of the lowest class. Hence it appears that the miracle was more remarkable in his person, because his calamity had been generally known. This appears to be the reason why Mark and Luke mention him only, and say nothing about the other, who was a sort of inferior appendage. But Matthew, who was an eye-witness, “Qui avoit este present au miracle;” “who had been present at the miracle.” did not choose to pass by even this person, though less known.
30. Have mercy on me, O Lord. There was at first but one who cried out, but the other was induced by a similar necessity to join him. They confer on Christ no ordinary honor, when they request Him to have mercy, and relieve them; for they must have been convinced that He had in his power the assistance or remedy which they needed. But their faith is still more clearly exhibited by their acknowledgment of Him as Messiah, to whom we know that the Jews gave this designation, Son of David They therefore apply to Christ, not only as some Prophet, but as that person whom God had promised to be the only Author of salvation. The cry proved the ardor of the desire; for, though they knew that what they said exposed them to the hatred of many, who were highly displeased with the honor done to Christ, their fear was overcome by the ardor of desire, so that they did not refrain, on this account, from raising their voice aloud.
31. And the multitude reproved them. It is surprising that the disciples of Christ, who follow Him through a sense of duty and of respect, should wish to drive wretched men from the favor of Christ, and, so far as lies in them, to prevent the exercise of His power. But it frequently happens that the greater part of those who profess the name of Christ, instead of inviting us to Him, rather hinder or delay our approach. If Satan endeavored to throw obstacles in the way of two blind men, by means of pious and simple persons, who were induced by some sentiments of religion to follow Christ, how much more will he succeed in accomplishing it by means of hypocrites and traitors, if we be not strictly on our guard. Perseverance is therefore necessary to overcome every difficulty, and the more numerous the obstacles are which Satan throws in the way, the more powerfully ought we to be excited to earnestness in prayer, as we see that the blind men redoubled their cry
32. What do you wish that I should do to you? He gently and kindly asks what they desire; for He had determined to grant their requests. There is no reason to doubt that they prayed by a special movement of the Holy Spirit; for, as the Lord does not intend to grant to all persons deliverance from bodily diseases, so neither does He permit them simply to pray for it. A rule has been prescribed for us what we ought to ask, and in what manner, and to what extent; and we are not at liberty to depart from that rule, unless the Lord, by a secret movement of the Spirit, suggest to us some special prayer, which rarely happens. Christ puts the question to them, not for their sake as individuals, but for the sake of all the people; for we know how the world swallows God’s benefits without perceiving them, unless they are stimulated and aroused. Christ, therefore, by His voice, awakens the assembled crowd to observe the miracle, as He awakens them shortly afterwards by a visible sign, when He opens their eyes by touching them.
34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, etc. Σπλαγχνισθείς, moved with compassion, is not the participle of the same verb which Matthew had just now employed in reference to the blind man, ἐλέησον,have mercy “Quand ils disoyent, Fils de David, aye misericorde de nous;” “when they said, Son of David, have mercy on us.” They implored the mercy of Christ, that He might relieve their wretchedness; but now the Evangelist expresses that Christ was induced to cure them, not only by undeserved goodness, but because He pitied their distress. For the metaphor is taken from thebowels, (σπλάγχνα,) in which dwells that kindness and mutual compassion which prompts us to assist our neighbors.
Mark 10:52. Thy faith hath saved thee By the word faith is meant not only a confident hope of recovering sight, but a loftier conviction, which was, that this blind man had acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah whom God had promised. Nor must we imagine that it was only some confused knowledge; for we have already seen that this confession was taken from the Law and the Prophets. For the blind man did not at random bestow on Christ the name of Son of David, but embraced Him as that person whose coming he had been taught by the divine predictions to expect. Now Christ attributes it to faith that the blind man received sight; for, though the power and grace of God sometimes extend even to unbelievers, yet no man enjoys His benefits in a right and profitable manner, unless he receive them by faith; nay, the use of the gifts of God is so far from being advantageous to unbelievers, that it is even hurtful. And therefore, when Christ says, thy faith hath saved thee, the word saved is not limited to an outward cure, but includes also the health and safety of the soul; as if Christ had said, that by faith the blind man obtained that God was gracious to him, and granted his wish. And if it was in regard to faith that God bestowed his favor on the blind man, it follows that he was justified by faith
Matthew 20:34. And followed Him. This was an expression of gratitude, “Ceci a este un signe de reconnaissance du bien receu de Christ;” “this was an expression of gratitude for the favor received from Christ.” when the blind men became followers of Christ; for, though it is uncertain how long they discharged this duty, yet it showed a grateful mind, that they presented themselves to many, in that journey, as mirrors of the grace of Christ. Luke adds, that the people gave praise to God, which tends to prove the certainty of the miracle.
New International Version: As Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.
New Living Translation: As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.
English Standard Version: And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed Him.
New American Standard Bible : As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.
King James Bible: And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Holman Christian Standard Bible: As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him.
International Standard Version: As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Jesus.
NET Bible: As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them.
Aramaic Bible in Plain English: And when Yeshua went out from Jericho, a great crowd was coming after Him.
GOD'S WORD® Translation: As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Jesus.
Jubilee Bible 2000: And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
King James 2000 Bible: And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
American King James Version: And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
American Standard Version: And as they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Douay-Rheims Bible: And when they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Darby Bible Translation: And as they went out from Jericho a great crowd followed Him.
English Revised Version: And as they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Webster's Bible Translation: And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Weymouth New Testament: As they were leaving Jericho, an immense crowd following Him,
World English Bible: As they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him.
Young's Literal Translation: And they going forth from Jericho, there followed Him a great multitude,
Parallel Commentaries Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
20:29-34 It is good for those under the same trial, or infirmity of body or mind, to join in prayer to God for relief, that they may quicken and encourage one another. There is mercy enough in Christ for all that ask. They were earnest in prayer. They cried out as men in earnest. Cold desires beg denials. They were humble in prayer, casting themselves upon, and referring themselves cheerfully to, the Mediator's mercy. They showed faith in prayer, by the title they gave to Christ. Surely it was by the Holy Ghost that they called Jesus, Lord. They persevered in prayer. When they were in pursuit of such mercy, it was no time for timidity or hesitation: they cried earnestly. Christ encouraged them. The wants and burdens of the body we are soon sensible of, and can readily relate. Oh that we did as feelingly complain of our spiritual maladies, especially our spiritual blindness! Many are spiritually blind, yet say they see. Jesus cured these blind men; and when they had received sight, they followed Him. None follow Christ blindly. He first by His grace opens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after Him. These miracles are our call to Jesus; may we hear it, and make it our daily prayer to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Verses 29-34. - Healing of two blind men at Jericho. (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43.) The miracle narrated in this passage is common to the three synopsis’s, but with some remarkable differences, not one of them agreeing altogether in details. St. Matthew speaks of two blind men, St. Luke and St. Mark of one only, and the latter mentions this one by name as Bartimaeus. St. Matthew and St. Mark make the miracle performed as Jesus quitted Jericho; St. Luke assigns it to the approach to the city. Thus the number of the cured and the locality of the miracle are alike variously stated. It is an easy solution to say, with St. Augustine, Lightfoot, and Greswell, that two, or perhaps three, distinct facts are here related; and it is not absolutely impossible. though altogether improbable, that in the same locality, under identical circumstances, like sufferers made the same request, and received the same relief in the same manner. But we are not driven to this extravagant hypothesis; and the unity of the narrative can be preserved without doing violence to the language of the writers. As to the number of the blind men, we have seen the same discrepancy in the case of the demoniacs at Gadara solved by supposing that one of the two was the more remarkable and better known than the other. Hence, in this incident, the tradition followed by some of the synopsis’s preserved the memory of this one alone, who may have become known in the Christian community as a devoted follower of Jesus, the other passing into obscurity and being heard of no more. Another hypothesis is that a single blind man first addressed Christ as He entered Jericho, but was not cured at that time. Jesus passed that night in the city at the house of Zacchreus (Luke 19:1-10); and on the morrow, when leaving Jericho, was again entreated by the blind man, who meantime had been joined by a companion, and healed them both. There are other solutions offered, e.g., that there were two Jericho’s, an old and a new town, and that one blind man was healed as they entered one city, and the other as they left the other; or that the term rendered "was come nigh" (Luke 18:35) might mean "was nigh," and might therefore apply to one who was leaving as well as to one entering the city.
But we weary ourselves in vain in seeking to harmonize every little detail in the Gospel narratives. No two, much less three, independent witnesses would give an identical account of an incident, especially one which reached some of them only by hearsay. Inspiration extends not to petty circumstances, and the credibility of the gospel depends not on the rectification of such minutiae.
Verse 29. - Jericho. The Lord was on His way to Jerusalem to meet the death which He was willing to undergo, and to win the victory which He was by this path to accomplish. His route lay through Jericho, as the march of His forerunner Joshua had led. Joshua had set forth to conquer the Promised Land; Jesus sets forth to win His promised inheritance by the sword of the Spirit. "The upland pastures of Peraea were now behind them, "and the road led down to the sunken channel of the Jordan, and the 'divine district' of Jericho. This small but rich plain was the most luxuriant spot in Palestine. Sloping gently upwards from the level of the Dead Sea, 1350 feet under the Mediterranean, to the stern background of the hills of Quarantana, it had the climate of Lower Egypt, and displayed the vegetation of the tropics. Its fig trees were pre-eminently famous; it was unique in its growth of palms of various kinds: its crops of dates were a proverb; the balsam plant, which grew principally here, furnished a costly perfume, and was in great repute for healing wounds; maize yielded a double harvest; wheat ripened a whole month earlier than in Galilee, and innumerable bees found a paradise in the many aromatic flowers and plants, not a few unknown elsewhere, which filled the air with odours and the landscape with beauty. Rising like an amphitheatre from amidst this luxuriant scene, lay Jericho, the chief place east of Jerusalem, at seven or eight miles distant from the Jordan, on swelling slopes, seven hundred feet above the bed of the river, from which its gardens and groves, thickly interspersed with mansions, and covering seventy furlongs from north to south, and twenty from east to west, were divided by a strip of wilderness.
The town had had an eventful history. Once the stronghold of the Canaanites, it was still, in the days of Christ, surrounded by towers and castles. A great stone aqueduct of eleven arches brought a copious supply of water to the city, and the Roman military road ran through it. The houses themselves, however, though showy, were not substantial, but were built mostly of sun-dried bricks, like those of Egypt; so that now, as in the similar case of Babylon, Nineveh, or Egypt, after long desolation, hardly a trace of them remains." A great multitude. A vast crowd of pilgrims, bound for Jerusalem to keep the Passover, accompanied Jesus and His disciples. The number of people that this great festival attracted to the central place of worship seems to us incredibly large. Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 6:09. 3) reckons them at three millions. Doubtless our Lord was followed by many of those whom He had benefited, and others whom He had won by His teaching; and these, at any rate, would witness the ensuing miracle.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And as they departed from Jericho ... Which, was distant about ten parsas, or miles, from Jerusalem (i), through which Christ just passed, and had met with Zacchaeus, and called him, and delivered the parable concerning a nobleman's going into a far country. The Syriac and Persic versions render the words, "when Jesus departed from Jericho"; and the Arabic, "when He went out of Jericho"; not alone, but "with His disciples", as Mark says; and not with them only, for a great multitude followed Him out of the city; either to hear Him, or be healed by Him, or to see Him, or behold His miracles, or to accompany Him to Jerusalem; whither He was going to keep the feast of the Passover, and where they might be in some expectation He would set up His kingdom. The Ethiopic version reads it, "As they went out from Jerusalem", contrary to all copies and versions.
Matthew 20:29-20:34 What Would You Have Me Do For You?
It would appear that Jesus never asked this question of anyone else in the Gospels. Didn’t He know what these blind men needed?
He was seeking help, but in the process of seeking that help he got distracted. The light was on and it drew him away from the place where he might actually get help.
In Matthew 20, Jesus is entering the final week of His ministry. He’s on His way to Jerusalem and will soon be betrayed, arrested, and crucified… the crowds will clamor for His blood and cry "Crucify Him!" "Crucify Him!"
But as of now, the crowds still love Him. They line the streets and clamor for His attention. They’ve come to believe that this Jesus is: The hope of Israel. The Messiah. The Son of David. The promised King of Israel
Everyone is speculating that He will soon claim His crown, throw off the yoke of the hated Romans and restore Israel to its former glory. But amongst the crowd are 2 blind men.
Everybody knows them. They’re always sitting by the roadside begging for alms. They cry out “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 20:30) And the crowd is irritated. This isn’t what they think Jesus is “all about”. Jesus is too important to be bothered by rabble like this.
But Jesus stops and asks these blind men “What do want me to do for you?”
Now this is an unusual question for two reasons: 1st This is the only time in the Gospels we find Jesus asking anyone what they need done. 2nd You would think it would be obvious what these men needed. They’re blind. Even if Jesus couldn’t have looked into their eyes and seen the cloudiness that is often there in the eyes of the blind, or watched them as they grope about in the ways blind men do…
This is Jesus. He doesn’t need anyone to tell Him what these men were blind. He’s God… He knows these things. So why ask the question?
Well, it seems obvious to me that He didn’t ask the question for His own benefit (as if He didn’t know what they needed in their lives). Jesus asked the question for the benefit of the others who were there that day.
1st. Jesus asked this question for the benefit of the crowds. This crowd is obviously not into helping blind people. Blind people were a nuisance. They were a hindrance. They were a distraction to what Jesus’ real purpose ought to be.
And would that “real purpose” be? Meeting their needs, building their kingdom.
When it becomes obvious, a few days later, that this wasn’t what Jesus had in mind the crowds turned their backs on Him and cry out for His blood. And so it was intriguing that Jesus didn’t ask the crowds what He could do for them. He asked the blind men.
There are times when the Church forgets why it exists. There are times when Christians forget what Jesus saved them for. They begin to think church is all about them. They think their relationship with Jesus is totally focused on their needs and their agenda. They
"Matthew 20:29-34 says Jesus healed two blind men as He left Jericho. Mark 10:46-52 and Luke 18:35-43 say He healed one man as He entered Jericho. Is this a contradiction?"
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 and Luke chose to identify one of the beggars as Bartimeus, perhaps because he was the main character in the story and was therefore the sole focus of Mark’s and Luke’s accounts. Perhaps it was because Bartimeus was known to them as the son of Timeus, but the other man was a stranger to them. In any case, the fact that only one man of the two is recorded as speaking does not mean there was only one man. It simply means Mark and Luke identified only one man speaking, Bartimeus. Matthew refers to both of them calling out to Jesus, clearly indicating there were two men.
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 Jericho’s, 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.
The exposition of the word of God is the exposition of Matthew chapter 20 verses 29 through verse 34, but is also built upon the parallel account in Mark chapter 10. So let’s turn first to Matthew chapter 20, verses 29 through 34, and then we’ll turn to the Markan passage in chapter 10 of that Gospel. Remember the context. The Lord Jesus is now on His way to the city of Jerusalem where He will offer Himself as a sacrifice for sinners. Matthew writes in verse 29 of chapter 20 and Mark chapter 10 and verse 46. Luke in his account comments that he followed the Lord Jesus glorifying God, and that the people gave praise to God as a result of what had happened. May the Lord bless this reading of His word.
We may have overlooked the fact in our study of the New Testament that the name of our Lord Jesus, Jesus is the same as the name for Joshua in the Old Testament. The word Iesous in the Greek of the New Testament is the equivalent of Y’hoshua or Joshua, in the Old Testament. So what we have in this account that we are looking at is an appearance of the second Joshua before Jericho, and so the title this morning for the message is “The Second Joshua Working Miracles at Jericho Again.”
The biblical critics have had a happy time studying this passage of Scripture which has to do with the healing of the blind men, as our Lord was at Jericho on His last visit to the city of Jerusalem while in the flesh. And it contains problems that lend some credence to their view that the Bible is after all only an ordinary book. Confidently, they intone in details and many important points, the gospels do not agree.
Then they go on to say, somewhat condescendingly, that the differences in these accounts do not really make a whole lot of difference, except insofar as they give instruction to those who believe that the Bible is true in all of its statements. So they tell us that these differences in the accounts don’t mean anything, but they at least should instruct those simple-minded people, they mean us, who think that the words of holy Scripture are inerrant. What are the difficulties which give the detractors of the Bible such relish in these accounts of the healing of the blind men?
There are two particularly. In the first place, Matthew speaks of two men who are healed, while Mark and Luke speak only of one. Now of course we should notice immediately if we have any facility for thinking logically, that when Matthew says that there are two, and Mark and Luke speak only of one, Mark and Luke do not say that there was only one blind man. Now that is very important. All that Luke and Mark say is that the Lord healed a blind man. Mark gives his name as Bartimaeus. They do not say He healed only one man. So there is really no contradiction between the accounts in that respect.
But there is something else that is of probably of greater difficulty. Mark and Matthew place the healing after the Lord Jesus leaves Jericho, while Luke appears to place the healing before the Lord Jesus enters Jericho.
Now that might be a serious problem for those who believe that the Bible is inerrant in the statements that it makes. We must of course remember that so far as the Scriptures are concerned, we do not have all of the details surrounding the incidents of the Bible, and so we have to think in our own minds of situations in which the words of Scripture may find their significance and relevance. But there have been a number of suggestions by individuals in attempts to harmonize this fact that Mark and Matthew place the healing after Jericho whereas Luke suggests that the healing occurred before the Lord entered Jericho.
One Bible teacher, who has been a very prominent Bible teacher, has taught that really we have two different healings. Now of course we have already had the healing of two blind men in the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 9 and since it was the Messianic office of the Lord Jesus to heal blind men, it’s certainly true that He did heal many blind men through the three years or so of His ministry. And so it has been suggested that what we have in Luke is one account whereas what we have in Mark and Matthew is another account, and if that is so that would of course solve all of our difficulties.
Still others have said, for example Professor A. T. Robertson, the well known New Testament professor, that there were really two Jericho’s. That is, an old or ancient city and a new modern Jericho, which was new and modern in our Lord’s day. We know that this is generally true, and it is Professor Robertson’s contention that in one of the accounts, the author looks at it from the standpoint of the old city of Jericho and thus the healing was as He came out of the city of Jericho, and as He was to enter the new Jericho, and the other account is written from that standpoint. So if there were two Jericho’s it would be very easy to harmonize these accounts. The healing took place between the leaving of one and the entering of another.
Another ancient commentator, the Pietist commentator Albrecht Bengel, whose writings have been read by countless thousands of students of the Scripture, not only in the original Latin in the which he wrote them, but in other translations of them. Bengel has made the suggestion that what happened really was that the blind men met the Lord Jesus as he was entering Jericho, and since Jericho was a relatively small city, they followed the great crowd seeking to get to Him as He made His way through Jericho, and then finally came into touch with Him as they were leaving the city and thus both of the accounts could be true: one written from the standpoint of the entrance and the other written from the standpoint of the exit where the healing really took place.
There are some modern interpretations, too. One of the modern interpreters has suggested that really what happened was something like this: the two blind men were seated right near the outskirts of the city, but when they heard the crowd which preceded the Lord Jesus, and they heard word that Jesus was coming, they began to shout, and so they began to shout as the Lord Jesus entered the city, and Luke writes his account from that standpoint. But finally as He came to leave the city, they came into contact with Him and were healed as He left the city.
Still another has suggested this explanation. He has said that it’s shortly after this that the Lord Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the in the tree, and He calls down Zacchaeus, and remember, says that He was going to lodge with him that night. Now since Zacchaeus lived in Jericho, and since he wanted to see the Lord Jesus, he had raced outside the city so he could catch a good view of Him and when the Lord Jesus saw him with the multitude looking at the little man up in the tree, He called out to Zacchaeus as He came out of the city and said Zacchaeus come down I must lodge with you tonight. And the incident involving Zacchaeus took place, and then He went back into the city and spent the night with Zacchaeus. And so one of the accounts is written from the standpoint of the leaving of the city whereas the other is written from the standpoint of our Lord entering back into the city, and as He entered, He met the blind men and healed them.
So there are a number of suggestions that have been offered. The Gospels do not really give us anything necessarily contradictory. We just don’t know the details. One of the interesting things that we shall be engaged in at least for a little while when we get to heaven is the harmonization of many things with which we do not have enough information to harmonize ourselves. So, there is not any serious problem in this at all. It’s interesting. We don’t know how it happened, and we’ll be looking forward to finding out how when we get there. But when we get there these will be rather insignificant things. And we’ll probably say, why did we waist eight or nine minutes talking about that? [Laughter]
There is a two-fold significance in this event that is more important, and the first thing is what we can call, for the sake of a better word, a dispensational significance. Remember the Lord Jesus is coming to Jerusalem as the King of Israel. When He enters, shortly in the next message we shall consider his untriumphal entry, He will come and the people shall shout out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.” And, since it was one of the duties of the Messianic king to heal the eyes of the blind, specifically, that it’s very appropriate that as He makes His plans for entering the city of Jerusalem, He should heal again some blind men making or bringing to the forefront again the fact that He is the Messianic king who performs the miracles that He is supposed to perform according to Old Testament prophesy. That’s one of the important things.
But there is another thing that is even more important, and that is the reference that this particular incident has to the spiritual life of men and women. It is again a beautiful illustration of the Lord’s power to illuminate the spiritually blind. The word of God tells us the Apostle Paul, particularly, that the natural man, that is the man who does not have any relationship to the Lord Jesus that is vital and life-giving, the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned.
In other words, the Apostle Paul says that the natural man cannot understand spiritual truth. There must be a previous working of the Holy Spirit by which their minds are illuminated to understand divine truth. Paul puts it in other ways. He says that we are dead in trespasses and sin. Some who do not have a vital saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and we rather wonder why it is that we are here. Perhaps some friend has brought you. Or perhaps out of what you thought was mere curiosity, and we wonder why it is that people come to hear an exposition of an ancient book written hundreds and hundreds of years ago. We read it and we do not get anything out of it. We find it, in the words of the Apostle Paul, foolishness. We are actually fulfilling the words of Scripture in the fact that we do not understand it and rather think that it is stupid, that’s the meaning of Paul’s term really. Stupid.
Now the Bible tells us that those who do not have eternal life are spiritually blind. Over and over again, the apostle mentions that. He says that we are blind in our hearts. We are alienated from God and do not have the life of God within us. And this incident is designed to illustrate the fact that it is the Lord Jesus who works in the hearts of blind men. Men who are spiritually blind.
There are people who sit in an audience who do not understand anything more about spiritual things. We are here and that’s all, and we wonder why. That’s true, because we attend church and many of us do not understand what in the world was going on. We are blind as a bat spiritually. Now God the Holy Spirit must work in the hearts of men for spiritual illumination to come, and this incident this miracle in the life of our Lord is another illustration of His power. Let’s turn to it now, and first of all, let´s say a word about the historical situation against the background of which the Lord Jesus ministers.
We are in the part of Matthew in which we are going to have a great deal of stress upon the ministry of the Lord in the last days studying these last chapters of the Gospel of Matthew again, because the most fruitful parts of biblical study are the passages in the gospels that have to do with the passion of the Lord Jesus. And we are fast approaching that part of the Gospel of Matthew in which the Lord Jesus in the last days of His life ministers there, preparatory to giving His life a ransom for many.
Now as He made His way down to Jerusalem on the last of His journeys to that city in the flesh, He was making His way with the apostles, and also with a company of friends. Mark tells us in the 32nd verse of the 10th chapter, “And they were on the way going up to Jerusalem and Jesus went before them.” And you can picture the little crowd the apostles gathered close to the Lord Jesus and then their friends and relatives who were a little back, and the Lord Jesus suddenly began to lengthen His steps, as He made His way toward Jerusalem. Luke describes His countenance as an appearance as if He were going to Jerusalem. And so as He lengthened His step and marched out with increasing speed before them the apostles noticed that that was not His customary action in their travels, and so the Scriptures say that they were amazed, they were astonished.
And then looking at the people who were following Mark continues and says, “As they followed they were afraid.” So there was something about the occasion in which our Lord had this different look upon His face moved out in front of the company, there was something about it that caused the rest of the group that were with them to come under the influence of this sense of the luminous, and awe stricken they observed the Lord Jesus as He made His way toward Jerusalem.
Bengel, that same German commentator, asks the question, what was He doing?, and then answers it by saying that He was dwelling in His passion. He was thinking about what now was immediately before Him when He would finally go to that cross and cry out, “It is finished” after having said “My God my God why hast Thou forsaken Me?” That is really a kind of theme verse of these final chapters of the gospel records.
So the Lord Jesus, having crossed the Jordan now comes to the little city of Jericho, and remembers His name was Joshua. So a greater Joshua stands at Jericho with His word drawn to storm the stronghold of the Prince of Darkness, and He will win the battle by dying upon a Roman gibbet. And this incident of the blind man is a kind of earnest of the victory the Lord Jesus will obtain when He shed his blood.
Well as He draws near to Jericho, a great multitude is following Him. They are friends of His. No doubt many relatives of His too. They draw near to the city of Jericho and behold Matthew says in the 30th verse, two blind men sitting by the way side. It’s not surprising that our Lord’s miracles include the healing of blind men because that was the Messianic work: to open the eyes of the blind. Isaiah says that when the Messiah comes He will do that. He says that in chapter 29, about verse 17 or 18 of that chapter. He also says that in chapter 35 and verse 5. So this was a specific Messianic miracle.
So it’s not surprising then that in His miracles there should be the healing of many blind men. And furthermore, it’s not surprising that there should be two of them. It’s pathetic when you think about it, of course, but it was natural, because two blind men would naturally be anxious for sympathy and encouragement and help, and it is true that equal sorrows cause men to creep close for warmth and companionship. We know that when we have other afflictions. Those that have similar afflictions do tend to come together because they can mutually help one another.
Blindness was very, very common, unfortunately, in the eastern cities in the time of our Lord. One of the reasons for this was that there were conditions of uncleanness that caused such diseases to abound. And in addition the bright glare of the sun in those parts of our world was such, and since they didn’t have protection from the sun, that they became afflicted in their eyes. A visitor in our modern day to Cairo, Egypt has said that it was his observation that out of one hundred people in Egypt; about fifty were affected with eye disease. Twenty were blind, ten had lost one eye, and twenty had other eye diseases. So we should not be surprised then that the Lord Jesus in His ministry should encompass the healing of many blind men.
The text says that when the Lord Jesus passed by, they heard that Jesus had passed by. And incidentally in the words that are the outpouring of their heart, it’s evident that they had already heard of the Lord Jesus. They knew something about Him. It’s even possible that they had heard accounts of the healing ministry of this Jesus of Nazareth, and incidentally since they had no doubt studied the Scriptures themselves and paid because of their affliction particular attention to those prophesies of the Old Testament that spoke of the healing of blind men, and longing for that themselves, that they were naturally attracted to the stories concerning the Lord Jesus.
The Holy Scripture says, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So the word concerning the Lord Jesus had been disseminated, and they had heard it and on the basis of what they had heard the Holy Spirit had wrought in their hearts. This incident, incidentally is the origin of Sankey’s hymn,
“What means this eager anxious throng which moves with busy haste along these wondrous gatherings day by day; what means this strange commotion pray in accents hushed the throng reply Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.”
When the word came to the blind men that the Lord Jesus might be near, they began to cry out. Now Mark tells us they began to. We would gather that from Matthew, because in the account here in Matthew, they cry out, “Have mercy upon us,” and then when some seek to stop them they still cry out the more, “O Lord, thou son of David, have mercy upon us.”
So they began to cry out, and notice what they say when they cry out to Him. They do not say, O man of Nazareth, have mercy upon us. They do not say, O Yankee or Northerner have mercy upon us. They have some very definite information concerning Him. They cry out, have mercy on us O Lord thou son of David. It is evident they have faith in His person as the Lord. That is, they have some conception that He is a divine person and also they have a conception of Him as the Messiah, because son of David is a Messianic term. So they know that He is the Son of God, and they know that He is the Messiah.
Now whether they understood all of the significance of it, or whether they would understand what that meant in the light of the Council of Calcedon later on, that’s another matter. But at least they had come to the conviction He was the Lord and come to the conviction that He was the Messianic king. And not only did they have faith in His person, but they had a great confidence in His power, because they said, have mercy upon us. They knew that it was within the power of the Lord Jesus to heal them, and so they cried out have mercy upon us.
These men are a picture in the kind of attitude that men ought to have when they come into conviction for sin and desire to have deliverance. They were earnest. They cried. They kept crying. Even the tenses of the verbs in the other accounts stress the fact that this cry of theirs was a continual thing. They were earnest. We are earnest about everything but spiritual things.
First thing to note is, we are very earnest about our sports. We are very earnest about our business. We are very earnest about our studies. We are very earnest about our calling in life about our friends our hobbies, about everything, but when it comes to spiritual things, our hearts are as the old commentators used to say, as cold as the arctic snows.
These men were earnest. Not only that they were persistent. When actually people said, shut up, they said we’re going to not only keep it up but we’re going to shout loud enough in order to get over the heads of our hinderers, and so they cried out the text of Scripture says the more. So the more they were told to shut up the louder they cried. They were persistent. They knew what they wanted. And this is a very poignant fact when you think of blind men who could not see in the midst of a multitude. They must have been crying out all along where is He? Which way did He go? What street did He turn down? And all at the same time shouting out, O Lord, thou son of David have mercy upon us! Which way did He go? Lord have mercy upon us. Did He turn that way? Show me. Take me to Him. You can see this was something that was very important for them. They knew what they wanted and incidentally they were humble.
These cries that they were making were confessions of their unworthiness. O Lord, thou son of David have mercy upon me. They did not talk of their merits. They didn’t say, for example, O Lord have mercy upon us, we attend the synagogue regularly. We listen to the Pharisees. We study the Scriptures. We do good works. We don’t put a sign our face “blind” when we really can see. They had no talk of merit whatsoever, because whenever we talk of merit before the Lord, the doors of heaven are shut. O Lord, thou son of David have mercy upon us. They really were beggar, literally, Mark tells us, and they were beggars spiritually seeking for help. And they plead as criminals, have mercy upon us.
Now this illustrates of course the fact that according to the teaching of the word of God, our wills are obstinate in rebellion against the Lord. The Scriptures so plainly teach about one of the most difficult things for men to grasp, the relationship of the will in our salvation. The Bible teaches that we have a will, that we do make decisions. But the Bible teaches that the will is a secondary agent. The will acts in accordance with our nature and our nature affected by the fall is wicked and rebellious against God. Therefore, the decisions of the will which are a response to the inmost disposition of a man are always decisions contrary to the will of God. This repeats over and over again, and we should say it again, because there are always some strangers in the midst. We never make a decision of the will that is favorable to God unless God has previously “jiggled our willed.”
That is biblical teaching. It’s hard for men to understand that. But nevertheless it is true. It is basic to the gospel of the Lord Jesus. The responses that men make do not arise ultimately from the heart of men; ultimately they arise from God’s working. That’s why salvation is of the Lord. So when we read these men cry out, have mercy upon us, it’s obvious that God has already wrought in their will, and they are crying out now in response to what He has done.
Their wills naturally were obstinate. They were rebellious. Their understanding was darkened. Their affections were depraved. They were blind to the things that really counted. That’s the way we are born. We are born in our sin. We know we can speak to someone about the wonders of this creation about us. We can talk to men about the beauties of and the wonders of His divine creation and men are able to understand with us. We can speak of the wonders of creation ourselves, but when we turn to speak about the wonders of the New Covenant and of the blood that was shed by which we have everlasting life, by which we are brought into the family of God, by which we are justified, by which we become the children of God, then the beauties of the person of the Redeemer and the work of the Redeemer seem as nothing as foolishness to us. We do not understand them at all.
So these men cry out humbly with confessions of their own unworthiness, and the message that they proclaim is that the Lord Jesus is the Lord and the Messiah. It’s striking that these blind men, these poor bind men, give the glory to the Lord Jesus that the leaders the religious leaders in Jerusalem did not. They did not own Him as Lord. They rebelled against the very idea and they did not accept Him as the son of David. They rebelled against that idea. So these two poor blind men who did not have the religious training, and no doubt the religious experiences that the Pharisees and the Sadducees did, had by the grace of God been enabled to understand things that religious leaders do not. There is a great lesson in that.
The Lord’s reaction to this is remarkable. A cry of need brings Him to a complete stop. We read in verse 32, “And Jesus stood still.” Isn’t that striking? When Joshua was here in his historical ministry in the Old Testament recorded in the Book of Joshua, Joshua spoke to the sun and the sun and the moon stood still. Remarkable miracle. But here are two blind men who address the Son of Righteousness, for that is one our Lord’s titles, and the Son of Righteousness stops at their request. It seems as if it is even a greater miracle than that performed by Joshua in the Old Testament.
Reminds us that the apostle says that he is rich unto all that call on him. If you have never believed in the Lord Jesus, let’s assure you that if you call upon Him, He is rich unto those that call unto Him. So he stopped. And interestingly those people that were trying to keep these two men quiet, shut up, shut up, are told by the Lord Jesus to go get the blind men. That’s kind of ironical. These people who were attempting to shut the blind men are forced to do errands for the blind men. And so they go off and get the blind men and they are brought into the presence of the Lord Jesus, and the Lord Jesus said, what do you want me to do?
Isn’t it striking too the way Mark describes the way that Bartimaeus came to the Lord Jesus? We can see the blind man with his coat. It probably was the only coat that he had or ever hoped to have. He knew that there were times when he needed that desperately, but Mark says he threw away his garment and came to the Lord Jesus.
If we were an artist, the most prolific source of artistry would be the Bible itself. One of the most striking things in all of the New Testament is when the Lord Jesus stood up in the boat in the midst of the storm, preparatory to saying, stop, or be muzzled ,and there came a great calm. And here, as Bartimaeus threw away his cloak, figurative of the fact that everything must go when we come to the Lord Jesus, as Paul said, “He suffered the loss of all things as he came to Christ.” What a beautiful picture that is. And he came to Jesus, Mark says. There’s nothing more fundamental, nothing more significant, nothing more necessary in life than to come to the Lord Jesus.
One of the saddest things in the world is for a man to go through life shine in his school work, shine in his college work, graduate near the top of his class, become a successful businessman, be successful in business, come to the end of his days retired, and then to be placed in a grave like the rest of the people who have lived up to this time without the knowledge of Jesus Christ. What a pitiful what a pitiful thing. To come to the Lord Jesus is the fundamental thing. To think of it. To become the President of General Motors, but not know Christ. To be the Chairman of the Board of Texas Instruments but not know Jesus Christ, what a failure.
So the Lord said, what do you want? These men have just no doubt been acquainted with the words the Lord Jesus had said not long before this: the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister. And so they in effect challenged Him. You said you come to minister, well, minister that we may see again that we may have our eyesight. One of the manuscripts reading the Matthian account, they requested, Lord that our eyes may be opened, that we may see Thee. That’s a very fitting addition. That’s the way they thought, having called out, O Lord Thou son of David. That’s what they were thinking. But first of all that our eyes may be opened.
Then the healing is described in the last verse, and notice that there are outward means, inward means, and ultimate means. The text of Scripture says, “So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes.” Now that was the touch of sympathy. Blind men no doubt needed the encouragement of the personal touch, and it’s a beautiful expression of the true humanity of Lord Jesus who understands all of our human needs. He touched them. But it also is an identification, for to touch, to lay hands upon was a sign of identification. And all He was saying, symbolically, was, as He touched them, yes I am sympathetic with your condition. I identify with your sin, not that I’m a sinner, but it is for sin that I have come. And the apostle puts it very succinctly; He was made sin for us who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And so He identified Himself with suffering sinning humanity for He shall die for sinners.
Mark says that He said to him your faith has made you whole. Incidentally, it was faith not adulterated by sight. They couldn’t be saved by sight; they had no sight. Our churches give us the impression that our faith is really grounded in a great deal of sight, for as we draw up to church buildings we are impressed. They are magnificent structures. And usually there’s a cross sticking above them. And then we enter, and we enter into the auditorium.
The auditorium should be very simple. That’s the way we like it. As a matter of fact that’s the way the earliest churches were constructed, and that’s the reason why the auditorium is simple. But many of our churches and the churches in which we’ve grown up are very impressive, and the services are very impressive. The men come in and they are dressed in different kinds of clothes. They are either dressed in a robe, or they are dressed in clerical garb with the round clerical collar.
And when they stand in the pulpit, they not only stand in the pulpit but they go through motions that are designed to impress our senses. They twist. They turn. They genuflect. They kneel. They bow. They frequently take things and do things with them. They stand before the altar. The whole impression seems to be, faith does come by sight, to some extent at least. They impress us.
But the Lord Jesus said, your faith, not your humility, not your persistence, not your purposefulness, your faith has made you whole. God has so worked that He has given you faith and that faith is the basis of your salvation. The ultimate means is His compassion. Jesus had compassion on them. Paul says He speaks about God who was rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He had loved us. And so out of compassion, the Lord Jesus responded to what He had produced in their hearts and gave them the pronouncement that they were now whole forgiven men.
And not only that, but their eyes were opened. Men speak of merits. Proud men get down upon their knees and offer prayers to God, thinking that their prayers are the means of God’s blessing. But the wind sweeps the prayers away, for God does not hear that kind of prayer. When the messenger of mercy the Lord Jesus came to this earth, He did not enter into the Hiltons and the Sheratons and the Holiday Inns and the Howard Johnson Inns, but He came to the inn of the broken heart and the contrite spirit, because God responds to those who acknowledge that they have nothing with which to commend themselves to the Lord.
Well the result of the healing is that they followed Him, and Luke tells us that they glorified God, which led to the praise of the Lord by the people. What a beautiful thing that is, too. There are several things that persist through our days of spiritual darkness, and one of them is the purpose for men being here. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And when the Lord Jesus worked in the hearts of these two blind men, they were so happy over what God had done to them and they so praised God that they glorified God. They had reached that ultimate goal for which we are here in this earth to glorify Him.
Now the Lord Jesus has changed His position. He’s no longer here in our midst. He’s at the right hand of the majesty on high, but it’s still true, that Jesus of Nazareth passes by. He does not do it physically. He does it through His word and through His spirit. And we have listened as we have read the word of God to the exposition of the power Jesus Christ to heal. And if someone under the influence of the Holy Spirit, has been brought to the conviction of his sin, He stands ready and waiting to deliver from the blindness of our heart, to bring you into the knowledge of the Lord Jesus which means everlasting life.
Remembering that later the Lord Jesus will die upon the cross at Calvary for sinners, making it possible for all of our sin and guilt and condemnation to be washed totally clean. And if God has brought in our heart the desire He brought into the hearts of these blind men for healing, may God help us deep down within the recesses of our being to cry out, O Lord Thou son of David, have mercy upon us. And this great miracle of healing will be accomplished spiritually again. May God speak to our heart to that end. Let’s pray for the benediction.
Father, we know that we have inadequately expressed the greatness of the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus, but we do know deep down within us, Lord, what Thou hast done for us and what Thou art able to do for men who come through the Spirit’s enablement to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of sinners.
And Lord, if there should be someone present in this auditorium, one little child, perhaps one young man, one young woman, one elderly man or woman in whom the Holy Spirit has worked, O God, by the Holy Spirit, bring to their inmost being that urgent request, O Lord Thou son of David have mercy upon me.
Accomplish, Lord the supernatural work of the new birth. May grace mercy and peace go with us. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard. (1-16) Jesus again foretells His sufferings. (17-19) The ambition of James and John. (20-28) Jesus gives sight to two blind men near Jericho. (29-34)
Commentary on Matthew 20:1-16
The direct object of this parable seems to be, to show that though the Jews were first called into the vineyard, at length the gospel should be preached to the Gentiles, and they should be admitted to equal privileges and advantages with the Jews. The parable may also be applied more generally, and shows,
1. That God is debtor to no man.
2. That many who begin last, and promise little in religion, sometimes, by the blessing of God, arrive at a great deal of knowledge, grace, and usefulness.
3. That the recompense of reward will be given to the saints, but not according to the time of their conversion. It describes the state of the visible church, and explains the declaration that the last shall be first, and the first last, in its various references.
Until we are hired into the service of God, we are standing all the day idle: a sinful state, though a state of drudgery to Satan, may be called a state of idleness. The market-place is the world, and from that we are called by the gospel. Come; come from this market-place. Work for God will not admit of trifling. A man may go idle to hell, but he that will go to heaven, must be diligent. The Roman penny was seven pence halfpenny in our money, wages then enough for the day's support. This does not prove that the reward of our obedience to God is of works, or of debt; when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; but it signifies that there is a reward set before us, yet let none, upon this presumption, put off repentance till they are old. Some were sent into the vineyard at the eleventh hour; but nobody had hired them before. The Gentiles came in at the eleventh hour; the gospel had not been before preached to them. Those that have had gospel offers made them at the third or sixth hour, and have refused them, will not have to say at the eleventh hour, as these had, No man has hired us.
Therefore, not to discourage any, but to awaken all, be it remembered, that now is the accepted time. The riches of Divine grace are loudly murmured at, among proud Pharisees and nominal Christians. There is great proneness in us to think that we have too little, and others too much of the tokens of God's favor; and that we do too much, and others too little in the work of God. But if God gives grace to others, it is kindness to them, and no injustice to us.
Carnal worldliness agrees with God for their penny in this world; and chooses their portion in this life. Obedient believers agree with God for their penny in the other world, and must remember they have so agreed. Didst not thou agree to take up with heaven as thy portion, thy all; wilt thou seek for happiness in the creature? God punishes none more than they deserve, and recompenses every service done for Him; He therefore does no wrong to any, by showing extraordinary grace to some.
See here the nature of envy. It is an evil eye, which is displeased at the good of others, and desires their hurt. It is a grief to us, displeasing to God, and hurtful to our neighbors: it is a sin that has neither pleasure, profit, nor honor. Let us forego every proud claim, and seek for salvation as a free gift. Let us never envy or grudge, but rejoice and praise God for His mercy to others as well as to ourselves.
Commentary on Matthew 20:17-19
Christ is more particular here in foretelling His sufferings than before. And here, as before, He adds the mention of His resurrection and His glory, to that of His death and sufferings, to encourage His disciples, and comfort them. A believing view of our once crucified and now glorified Redeemer, is good to humble a proud, self-justifying disposition. When we consider the need of the humiliation and sufferings of the Son of God, in order to the salvation of perishing sinners, surely we must be aware of the freeness and richness of Divine grace in our salvation.
Commentary on Matthew 20:20-28
The sons of Zebedee abused what Christ said to comfort the disciples. Some cannot have comforts but they turn them to a wrong purpose. Pride is a sin that most easily besets us; it is sinful ambition to outdo others in pomp and grandeur. To put down the vanity and ambition of their request, Christ leads them to the thoughts of their sufferings. It is a bitter cup that is to be drunk of; a cup of trembling, but not the cup of the wicked. It is but a cup, it is but a draught, bitter perhaps, but soon emptied; it is a cup in the hand of a Father, John 18:11. Baptism is an ordinance by which we are joined to the Lord in covenant and communion; and so is suffering for Christ, Ezekiel 20:37; Isaiah 48:10. Baptism is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace; and so is suffering for Christ, for unto us it is given, Philippians 1:29. But they knew not what Christ's cup was, nor what His baptism. Those are commonly most confident, who are least acquainted with the cross. Nothing makes more mischief among brethren, than desire of greatness. And we never find Christ's disciples quarrelling, but something of this was at the bottom of it. That man who labors most diligently, and suffers most patiently, seeking to do good to his brethren, and to promote the salvation of souls, most resembles Christ, and will be most honored by Him to all eternity. Our Lord speaks of His death in the terms applied to the sacrifices of old. It is a sacrifice for the sins of men, and is that true and substantial sacrifice, which those of the law faintly and imperfectly represented. It was a ransom for many, enough for all, working upon many; and, if for many, then the poor trembling soul may say, Why not for me?
Commentary on Matthew 20:29-34
It is good for those under the same trial, or infirmity of body or mind, to join in prayer to God for relief, that they may quicken and encourage one another. There is mercy enough in Christ for all that ask. They were earnest in prayer. They cried out as men in earnest. Cold desires beg denials. They were humble in prayer, casting themselves upon, and referring themselves cheerfully to, the Mediator's mercy. They showed faith in prayer, by the title they gave to Christ. Surely it was by the Holy Ghost that they called Jesus, Lord. They persevered in prayer. When they were in pursuit of such mercy, it was no time for timidity or hesitation: they cried earnestly. Christ encouraged them. The wants and burdens of the body we are soon sensible of, and can readily relate. Oh that we did as feelingly complain of our spiritual maladies, especially our spiritual blindness! Many are spiritually blind, yet say they see. Jesus cured these blind men; and when they had received sight, they followed Him. None follow Christ blindly. He first by His grace opens men's eyes, and so draws their hearts after Him. These miracles are our call to Jesus; may we hear it, and make it our daily prayer to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Alleged Contradictions and Inaccuracies
In Matthew's account two blind men are healed, whereas in the accounts of Mark and Luke only one blind man is mentioned: If two blind men were healed, then certainly one was healed. The Gospel writers did not include all that Jesus did and said. (cf. John 21:25).
Matthew and Mark place the healing when Jesus was departing from Jericho, whereas Luke places the healing when Jesus was coming to Jericho: It is perfectly possible that Jesus healed "a certain blind man" as He was come nigh to Jericho (Luke's account), and then healed two more blind men (one of whom was blind Bartimaeus, Mark's account) as He was leaving Jericho.
Matthew 20:29-34 “What Do You Want Jesus to Do For You?”
20:29 Now, as they were proceeding out from Jericho, a numerous crowd followed Him,
20:30 and, two blind men sitting beside the road heard that Jesus was coming along [and] cried out saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
20:31 But the crowd reprimanded them in order that they might hush, but as for them, they were crying out more, saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
20:32 Then Jesus stood [still] and whistled to them and said, “What are y’all wanting Me to do for you?”
20:33 They say to Him, “Lord, that our eyes might be opened!”
20:34 And Jesus, gut-wrenched, touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes saw again! Then they followed Him.
Exploring about how to pray. In Matthew 20:21, we just saw James and John’s mom ask Jesus for something, and now again in v.29ff, we have someone else making a request of Jesus.
20:29 Now, as they were proceeding out from Jericho, a numerous crowd followed Him,
Και εκπορευομενων αυτων απο Ιεριχω ηκολουθησεν αυτῷ οχλος πολυς.
20:30 and, get this, two blind men sitting beside the road heard that Jesus was coming along [and] cried out saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
και ιδου δυο τυφλοι καθημενοι παρα την ‘οδον ακουσαντες ‘οτι Ιησους παραγει εκραξαν λεγοντες Ελεησον ‘ημας Κυριε ‘Υιος Δαυιδ.
· According to Matthew (20:29), the encounter with the blind beggars happened as Jesus was leaving Jericho,
· But according to Luke (18:35), it happened as they were approaching Jericho,
· And according to Mark (10:46), it happened as they were both coming to Jericho and as they were going out from Jericho! How can that be?
· A.T. Robertson’s explanation seems the best, that there were two Jericho’s: the ancient city site and the township newly rebuilt by Herod, with only a short distance between.
· A distinction between the old city and the new city is pretty common in ancient cities around the world. [You can see in the photo that the mound of the old city is still on the NW side of the modern town of Jericho.
· So Jesus encountered these beggars on the road in-between the two sites. Thus Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, says that they had just passed the historic site of old Jericho, where “Joshua fit the battle,” and Luke, writing to a Greek audience says that they were approaching the new Roman resort town], and Mark, writing to a Roman audience, locates them geographically between leaving the old city and entering the new city of Jericho. God’s word is amazingly accurate when you chase down its details!
20:31 But the crowd reprimanded them in order that they might hush,
but as for them, they were crying out more, saying, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”
‘Ο δε οχλος επετιμησεν αυτοις ‘ινα σιωπησωσιν ‘οι δε μειζον εκραζον λεγοντες Ελεησον ‘ημας Κυριε Υιος Δαυιδ.
20:32 Then Jesus stood [still] and whistled to them and said, “What are y’all want Me to do for you?”
Και στας ‘ο Ιησους εφωνησεν αυτους και ειπεν Τί θελετε ποιησω ‘υμιν;
What would you have asked for, if it were you, and Jesus offered to make one wish come true?
20:33 They say to Him, “Lord, that our eyes might be opened!”
Λεγουσιν αυτῷ Κυριε ‘ινα ανοιχθωσιν ‘ημων ‘οι οφθαλμοι.
20:34 And Jesus, gut-wrenched, touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes saw again! Then they followed Him.
Σπλαγχνισθεις δε ‘ο Ιησους ‘ηψατο των οφθαλμων αυτων και ευθεως ανεβλεψαν [αυτων ‘οι οφθαλμοι] και ηκολουθησαν αυτῷ.
Conclusion: Six Principles of Effective Prayer Drawn From Two Blind Beggars
So, what is it that God would have you pray for?
I. Matthew 20:29: And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed Him.
We know that in Matthew 19:1 Jesus was in the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. In verse seventeen of chapter twenty we saw that Jesus was still continuing His journey to Jerusalem, but there was no way of knowing exactly where He was, somewhere between Jerusalem on the west side of the Jordan River and the region of Judea (Perea) on the east side of the Jordan River.
But now, here in verse twenty-nine, we learn that Jesus has crossed the Jordan, and is already leaving Jericho. Jericho was about eight miles west of the Jordan River and only fifteen miles away from Jerusalem. For the crowds of pilgrims from Galilee, Jericho was the last city before the final three thousand foot climb to Jerusalem. Everyone coming to Jerusalem from the east would pass through Jericho. So it was here that the pilgrims would converge, and their numbers swell, and the excitement and electricity in the air would grow even greater.
And now adding to the excitement of these crowds from Galilee was the fact that Jesus (their own “hero” from back home) was walking with them on the same road. So “as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed Him.”
II. Matthew 20:30: 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!”
Here, again, is that favorite word of Matthew’s, “behold.” Forty-four times Matthew uses this word compared to Luke’s thirty-six times and Mark’s 14 times. And here is one of those places where Matthew says “behold,” and Mark and Luke do not. We should be careful about reading too much into a favorite word, but Matthew is alerting us once again to the special importance and significance of what’s about to happen, in light of what just happened.
We had James and John (via their mother) making a request of Jesus. James and John are among the inner circle of the inner circle of Jesus’ closest disciples. For anyone who believed Jesus, it would be natural to think that James and John would be treated with a little extra respect and deference. But now compare these two “important” disciples with the two blind men sitting by the roadside.
Two blind men sitting by the side of the road are almost certainly begging for money, and Mark and Luke tell us that this is exactly what they were doing (Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35). Mark speaks of only one blind man (cf. Luke) and calls him a “blind beggar named Bartimaeus.” There couldn’t be much more of a contrast! Compared to important men like James and John, these two blind beggars would certainly be the “little ones,” or the “small ones” (Matthew 18), those who were insignificant and unimportant.
And this becomes very obvious in verse thirty-one when we find the crowd rebuking them and telling them to be quiet. So there’s a pretty stark contrast between the “rank,” or station in life of the two specially privileged disciples and the two blind beggars. But this isn’t the only contrast, as we’re about to see. “When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’”
For the significance of this miracle as a pointer to Jesus’ identity as Israel’s Messiah, see the message on Matthew 9:27-31. While in and of itself this miracle functions in exactly the same way as the earlier one, it seems that Matthew includes the miracle here as a fitting contrast with the preceding story of James and John (cf. Mark [10:35-52]; contra Luke [18:35-43]) and therefore as a fitting conclusion to all of Jesus’ teaching on humility and true “greatness” (beginning in chapter eighteen). The blind beggars (in contrast with James and John) remind us of the “small ones” who are the “greatest,” and the “last” who will be “first.”
III. Matthew 20:31: The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all
the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
It shouldn’t take much for us to imagine the desperation in the voices of these two blind beggars. They “cry out” not just so they can be heard over the crowd, but especially because of the intense longing in their hearts. Here is their chance for healing. It’s a chance they may never have again. And so they cry out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.”
It was common in Jesus’ day to assume that a physical defect like blindness was God’s judgment for some sin (cf. John 9:1-2). Now whether or not these two men believed that their blindness was a punishment for sin, they obviously didn’t believe that they had any rights to be healed.
“Lord, have mercy on us.” This isn’t just desperation, it’s a humble desperation; a recognition that the very thing we need and long for so badly is also something to which we are not entitled. The blind beggars know that they have no claim on Jesus for His healing. All they can plead for is
When the crowd rebukes them, telling them to be silent, they only cry out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David.” They’re blind, they’re beggars, they’re shunned by society, they’re insignificant and unimportant, and yet they have faith. They believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, and Son of David. They believe that He is able to restore their sight (cf. Mark 10:52). And so they cry out in humble desperation, and with only five simple words, “Lord, have mercy on us.”
But actually, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? The two blind men have not specifically asked Jesus for healing. They’ve asked only for mercy. Now we’ve assumed that this means they want to be healed, but even though Jesus certainly knew exactly what they wanted, He makes no assumptions. Instead, we read in verse thirty-two:
IV. Matthew 20:32: And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Does this sound familiar? There are only two places in all of the Gospels where Jesus asks someone what they want Him to do. Here is one of those places. But do we know where the other place is? It’s in the story right before this one, the story of James and John and their request of Jesus (via their mother).
James and John somewhat vaguely asked Jesus to grant them a request. Mark is less subtle. He says that “James and John… came up to [Jesus] and said to Him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you” (Mark 10:35). And Jesus replied: “What do you want?” Or as Mark has it, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Mark 10:36) That’s what just happened in the last story.
But now we have two blind beggars (what a contrast with James and John!) crying out: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” (What a contrast with “please give me something,” or, “we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You”!) And just like He did with James and John, so now Jesus does with the two blind beggars. He asks them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Once again, this is the second of only two times in all the Gospels that Jesus asks anyone
what they want Him to do for them, and both of these times are right here, back to back, one right after the other. So in the question asked of these two blind beggars, we can’t help but be reminded of the same question that Jesus just asked James and John. “And stopping, Jesus called them and said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’”
V. Matthew 20:33: They said to Him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
The blind beggars just want to see. That’s all. They have no grand aspirations for “greatness” in the Messiah’s kingdom. Anyway, how could they? They’re just blind beggars. They plead only the mercy of Jesus, and no entitlement or rights of their own. The blind beggars just want to see. That’s it. That’s all. Nothing more.
But James and John have moved on to “bigger” things. James and John have “graduated” to more lofty goals. James and John want to be granted the positions of highest honor at the right and left hand of Jesus when He comes in His kingdom.
Blind beggars just want to see. “They said to [Jesus], ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’”
VI. Matthew 20:34a: And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered
James’ and John’s request did not flow from any understanding of their need for mercy or compassion. Obviously not! We don’t ask for the highest positions in the kingdom and then explain our request as a cry for mercy! On the other hand, we don’t cry out for mercy, and then immediately turn around and ask for the highest positions in the kingdom! As it turns out, these special positions, at least as the disciples understood them, did not even exist. And so in light of all these things, it was impossible that Jesus could respond to the disciples’ request with a compassionate “yes.”
But the request of the two blind beggars is a very, very different story. Their desire to have their eyes opened was nothing more than a desperate and humble plea for mercy. So while the two specially privileged disciples were denied their request, it was the two blind beggars who got what they asked for. And they got what they asked for because of the “pity” of Jesus. One commentator translates like this: “Jesus’ heart went out to them” not to James and John, but to the two blind beggars who cried out for mercy.
VII. Matthew 20:34: And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered
their sight and followed Him.
The two blind beggars received their sight. They were blind, but now they can see. And Matthew describes their response very simply: “They… followed Him.” We heard in verse twenty-nine that already “a great crowd followed Him.” But when the formerly blind beggars followed Jesus, this was obviously something very different. This is the kind of “following” that naturally flows, from the experience of God’s mercy. They followed Jesus because He gave them their sight. They followed Jesus because He showed them pity. It’s not complicated! It’s just that simple.
So who are we most like? Are we more like the two specially privileged disciples, or are we
more like the two blind beggars? Have we moved on to bigger things? Have we graduated to more lofty goals? James and John have implied that part of the reason they’re following Jesus is because of certain extra benefits they hope to receive. But the two formerly blind beggars follow Jesus because of the undeserved mercy and pity that they have already received. James and John have become more “complicated.” The two formerly blind beggars are very “simple” and uncomplicated. They follow Jesus because He gave them their sight. They follow Jesus because showed them pity. At this point, how could they even think about extra benefits to be lobbied for in the future?
Certainly, they wouldn’t be thinking of the seats at Jesus’ right and left hand! They’ve already received more than they had any right to expect, and so for them this is already more than enough. They are content now, and more than satisfied, just to set off on the road following Jesus. If only our own Christian lives could be so “simple.” If only our own Christian lives could be so “uncomplicated.” But they can be, right? In fact, they must be!
We must come back to a devotion to Christ that is simple and pure (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3). Why are we followers of Christ? Is it because we asked for mercy and He gave it to us? Is it just that simple? Or have things become more complicated? Have we moved on to bigger things? Have we graduated to more lofty goals? How much of our following of Jesus is really just the complicated pursuit of extra “favors” from God?
Or how much of our following of Jesus is simply and purely because He heard our pleas for mercy? We cried out in desperation for mercy. In His pity, Jesus has shown us mercy. And now, every day, we follow Him. Is that “it”? Is that enough? Do our lives really say that it’s just “that simple”? Can we say with the Psalmist:
Psalm 131:1–3 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor do I have a haughty look. I do not have great aspirations, or concern myself with things that are beyond me. Indeed I am composed and quiet, like a young child carried by its mother; I am content like the young child I carry. O Israel, hope in the Lord now and forevermore!
Let's look at Matthew chapter 20, the last wonderful, wonderful section in this twentieth chapter...Matthew chapter 20, verses 29 through 34.
A very simple story, very simple. Easy to understand and not even unusual in the life of Christ for stories like this could be repeated a thousand times a thousand. So much so perhaps that as John said, all the books of all the world couldn't even contain them. Why this story? Why is it here? As Jesus goes to Jerusalem to die, why stop in the progress of such a great event as the Passover where He is to be the lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, why stop to include a story of two blind men?
Among many reasons, one sort of overpowering reason is indicated by the word "compassion" in verse 34. And if all other lessons were set aside, one great and profound truth would grab our minds and that is this, that Jesus had great compassion. People who were nothing but an irritation and a distraction to the crowd were a cause for deep pain to Him, the pain of sympathy, empathy and compassion.
While the world wanted to silence these kinds of people, Jesus wanted to hear what they had to say. While the world wanted to make sure they didn't get in the way, Jesus wanted to be sure He stood with them. While the world wanted to be sure they didn't interrupt anything by articulating their need, Jesus wanted not only to know their need but to meet it. And so, at best this wonderful little story is a demonstration of the heart of God which is a heart of compassion.
And that is to say, beloved, that God not only knows what pain we endure, He feels it. That's right. He not only knows it, it is not just cognition, it is not God in heaven saying, "O, I understand his suffering," it isn't just that. It's the feeling of that suffering. It is the pain of that which touches His own great heart. And therefore, when God allows you to suffer, He allows Himself to suffer as well and be sure then that if indeed your suffering is not alleviated, He continues to suffer with you and must therefore have some great purpose in mind for He Himself could eliminate His own suffering as well.
And so does Jesus demonstrate compassion.
We would imagine that He would have been preoccupied with the disciples, perhaps, which were to carry on the legacy after His death which will occur in a few days. We would imagine that He could have been distracted by the thought of dying itself and becoming the sacrificial lamb as He looked up the plateau to Jerusalem from the vantage point of Jericho far below. It would have been easy for us to understand that He really didn't have time in this particular moment in history to stop and take care of a couple of blind men of which there were many such and maybe many many such in Jericho for it was said of Jericho that there grew balsam bushes and balsam bushes could be made into a special kind of medicine which was good for the curing of the eyes. And yet He has time. And that is to say that God is compassionate. And Jesus Christ is not too busy redeeming the entire world to give sight to two insignificant blind men who have nothing to offer Him but their problem. And that may be a more profound lesson than we have thought.
Blindness, in fact, is a matter of record in the Bible. It's quite common, physical blindness and spiritual blindness.
Physical blindness occurred quite frequently in the ancient world. Poverty, lack of medical care, unsanitary conditions, brilliant sunlight, blowing sand, certain kinds of accidents, war, fighting, all of these things could cause blindness. But most commonly, blindness was caused basically because of gonorrheal diplococcus that would find their way from a woman's body into the conjunctiva of the eye of a child at birth and there they would form their disease and permanent blindness could occur. Sometimes blindness came by the infecting virus trichoma(?). And today, much of these things are curable because of the drugs that we have available, but then they were not. So it was not uncommon to be blind, especially maybe not uncommon, in Jericho where they believed there was a certain bush that healed blindness.
But even more common than physical blindness was spiritual blindness. And metaphorically the gospels and the epistles speak often of the blindness of the heart. In fact, it's summed up in the words of John 1 which simply says, "That was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, the world was made by Him and the world knew Him not.
He came unto His own and His own received Him not." Or in the third chapter where it says that men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. Or Romans 11:25 which says blindness in part has happened to Israel. Or 2 Corinthians 3:14, "Their minds were blinded." Or Jesus' words in Matthew 23, "Woe unto you blind guides, you blind Pharisee," He said. Blind to God. May be able to see physically, but blind to God.
Now the case of these men is most interesting because while they are physically blind, they appear to have unusually clear spiritual sight. Physically they see nothing, spiritually they see very well. And they will see even better when the Lord Jesus is finished with them. And they will also see physically.
Why are people spiritually blind? Sin, we're blinded by sin. In Matthew 6 it talks about the fact that when we're evil, our whole eye is darkened. Satan sort of adds a double blindness by blinding the minds of them that believe not, 2 Corinthians 4:4. And then God may add a triple blindness when His sovereignty makes the eye blind, as Isaiah 6 indicates, in a judicial punishment of unbelievers. And so we see then that men are blind by sin and doubly blinded by Satan and doubly or triply blinded by God. And it is into the darkness of man's spiritual blindness that Jesus comes. And we remember when He announced His arrival in Luke 4:18, He said He had come to give sight to the blind. And, He was not primarily speaking of physical blindness; He was primarily speaking of spiritual. He said in John 8, "I am the light that lights the world; whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness." He came to give spiritual light to blind eyes.
And sometimes He gave physical sight to blind eyes. And He did that for three reasons. First of all, it was part of Messianic proof. He was demonstrating that He was the Messiah. Secondly, it was part of millennial preview. He was showing them what it was going to be like in His Kingdom when all of that kind of thing was turned over and there was glorious wholeness and healing in the Kingdom. And thirdly, it was a matter of symbol or picture. It was a marvelous picture.
Every time He healed someone of physical blindness, He was in effect saying that's only a symbol of what I want to do to the soul. Every time He unstopped the ears so that someone could hear sound, He was in effect saying and that is exactly what I want to do to the heart so you can hear the Word of God. And every time He raised someone from the dead physically, He was saying I want to give life to the soul as I am able to give life to the body. And that is why Jesus found it no more difficult to forgive sins than to heal someone. And when posed with that question, that's what He said, "What's the difference? I am showing you by My absolute control over the physical world and the natural laws that I have control over the spiritual world and the supernatural laws."
And so, in the case of these two blind men, we have Messianic proof. We have millennial preview. And we have a marvelous picture of what He's able to do to the heart. And then we have the reality. Before the story's over, these two blind men are saved, redeemed souls. And so they see physically, they see spiritually. And they demonstrate to us that no matter how involved our Lord is, His heart of compassion reaches out to those who cry for His help.
Now let's look at the scene in verse 29. It's a very simple story and a simple scene. "As they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed Him." Jesus had finished His ministry in Galilee. He finished His ministry in Peraea. Peraea is the area east of the Jordan. Jesus had crossed the Jordan at some northern point near the Sea of Galilee and descended down the eastern side of the Jordan River in that area known as Peraea.
He's finished His ministry of a few weeks there and now He's on His way to Jerusalem. So He has to cross again the Jordan River to the west.
He probably crossed at a fairy spot, about five miles north of Jericho. Jericho's the first city we see when we cross the Jordan from the east. And as we fairy across the river, we walk across nowadays what is known as the Allenby (?) Bridge, the first sight we see is Jericho. It isn't the Jericho of old; it's really the third Jericho. They keep moving south. But in Jesus' time, there was the Old Testament Jericho which was ruins. And then a little south of that, right against it really, was the New Testament Jericho that flourished at this time. And it was a beautiful place, still is. It has its own unique beauty.
In those days, it was so exquisite a place that Herod built himself a wonderful fort and palace there. And that was his winter home. And they...Josephus used to say that when there was snow in Jerusalem, they were wearing linen because it was so warm in Jericho and it's only about 15 miles as the crow flies. But it's so far down into that desert that it stays warm. It's the Palm Springs of Palestine. It was known as the city of palms.
And if we want to understand the geography of the land of Palestine, we'll be interested to note that it is almost an absolute identical copy of southern California, both in terms of geography and climate. For it has a seacoast, a beautiful gorgeous beach on the Mediterranean. And then there is a lovely valley known as the Sharon Valley. And then the mountains rise up, we know them as the Carmel Mountain Range. And at the southern end is this massive plateau of Jerusalem. And from there descends straight down to the desert. It's almost a parallel. The only difference would be that where as Los Angeles is in a basin, Jerusalem is on a plateau. But it's much like our area. From the seacoast it rises to the mountains and then descends to the desert.
And Jericho was a lovely place in the winter, even in the spring. Because the crops all came in early in Jericho. Mark tells us it was not yet fig picking time in Jerusalem, but it would have been in Jericho because of the warmth. There were citrus trees everywhere because Jericho is endlessly fed by some beautiful springs, of lovely water, pure and clear and that water was channeled by irrigation all through that area around Jericho so that it flourished. And there were palm trees everywhere and citrus trees and then this balsam bush which had some multiple uses that was growing there. And so it would have been a very lovely place.
It was also a place that must have literally exploded on the minds of Jesus...on the mind of Jesus with memory because He would no doubt remember a very special woman from that city by the name of Rahab who was a prostitute but who hid the spies, who came to spy out the land. And as a result in the grace of God she was given a place in Messianic genealogy and you find her listed as an ancestor of the Messiah Himself in Matthew chapter 1.
And as He stood on the edge of the Jordan River, ready to go south about five miles maybe to the New Testament city of Jericho, He would have looked straight ahead to a cliff of mountains that rises straight up into the sky, chalky white, limestone-like parapet that cast its shadow in the late afternoon over the city of Jericho. And He would have remembered that that was very likely the place where He was tempted for 40 days and 40 nights by the devil. It's called by historians the devastation of bleak and desolate place.
And so, His mind is literally filled with things. Around Him is pressing a huge crowd, moving now from crossing the river down to Jericho, passing through the ruins of Old Testament Jericho which ruins, by the way, are still there for a visitor to see...including the ancient wall which so accommodated the plan of God by falling over on cue. And as they came to the city, He could see the sights and smell the smells and hear the sounds and it would be such a fulfilling experience. And in the midst of all of this, the tremendous anticipation of His own death only days away. He's only; by the way, six hours walk maybe from Jerusalem, six miles north of the Dead Sea. And it's a fulfilling thing.
Now as He comes into the city, naturally the mob presses Him on all sides. He can heal. Anybody today who even claims to heal can pack in a crowd. You can get 15,000 people into Madison Square Garden if you just tell them you're going to heal them. Even if you can't, they'll come just to find out if you can. And if you really can heal, they're there, believe it!
In Jesus' time, they mobbed Him. That's why the Lord had to tell the disciples not to take any money because they could have made literally a fortune in a day selling healings. And so the people pile all around Jesus, His teaching, His preaching, the magnetism of His personality, His ability to raise the dead and heal people from any disease.
And as He came into the city with the press of the crowd, there was one little guy that really wanted to see Him. You remember his name? Zacchaeus. And he was number-one public enemy, hated. He was a Jew who sold out to Rome for money. He became chief tax collector. He exacerbated tax out of Israel to the point of a fault. He defrauded them. He stole them blind. And he pocketed it all for himself and they hated him. Not only was he a traitor, but he was a crook. But he was fascinated by Jesus.
Now how did he know about Him? Well, it hadn't been long before this that Jesus made a short trip to Bethany. And when He was there, He raised Lazarus from the dead. And the word went like wildfire. Bethany was the town between Jericho and Jerusalem, just up the hill. It's very likely that everybody would have known who the Mary, Martha, Joseph little family was...or Mary, Martha and Lazarus, rather. They would have known who they were. And, of course, the whole city was in an uproar when He raised him from the dead. And His enemies pursued Him that He had to go back on the other side of the Jordan for a while for safety's sake. At least He had to retreat away. And so they knew. He had practically banished disease from Palestine and so everybody knew who He was. They were all there. And Zacchaeus wanted a view of Him.
Since he couldn't see like a little kid at a parade, he crawled up in a tree. And Jesus came along and He stopped and said, "Come down out of that tree, I'm coming to your house, I'm going to spend the night." Which wouldn't have done anything for the popularity of Jesus superficially because since this was the most hated man in town. But He had a wonderful evening with Zacchaeus and He transformed him. He redeemed him. The man was totally transformed. The reason we know that was he said to Jesus just before the dawning came and the thing was all completed, he said, "I'm going to give everything I give back to the poor, everything I've ever taken from anybody four-fold."
And Jesus said, "Surely salvation has come to this house."
That's the real thing! That's the real thing. He is the perfect opposite of the rich young ruler. True salvation, he wants to give it all away. You don't even have to tell him to do it, he wants to do it. Everything he's defrauded and more.
And so, as the morning breaks and Zacchaeus is running around town settling his account and he's like some incredible Santa Claus giving everybody back four times what he took and saying it's all because of Jesus, the crowd perhaps even swelled greater. And the whole place is lined with people. Now you have to reach the other accounts to get that. We're not looking at that in verse 29.
And so by now Jesus is ready to leave. He spent the night. He's going to Jerusalem. He must move to the Passover. And so we pick it up in verse 30. "And behold two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard that Jesus passed by cried out saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David."
Now, it says in verse 29 "As they departed from Jericho" this happened. Mark says, in the comparative passage, "As they were leaving Jericho." But Luke says, "As He came near Jericho." Now people say, "How do you harmonize this? Isn't this a biblical error? Two have Him leaving, one has Him coming." And some say, "Well, if you remember that there was Old Testament Jericho and New Testament Jericho, it's possible that He was leaving Old Testament Jericho and entering into New Testament Jericho."
But why would He stay overnight in the ruins? We don't know, maybe Zacchaeus lived over there. It's possible. We don't know the explanation, but we’re wonderfully content with the fact that there is an explanation... Beggars, from experience in studying the Bible, usually hung around the thoroughfares where the people were. And if we've ever been to Jerusalem, we know where they hang around. In fact, just outside the city gate. And that seems to be the rather traditional place for them.
And so, perhaps one explanation of what might have happened is that, as Jesus is moving with this mob and they come to the gate and the crowd and the noise and all that's going on and they pass out the gate, then all of a sudden the cries of these blind men are brought to His attention at which point He turns to return into the city to confront them and meet them and find their need. Certainly a possible explanation. But it's really wonderful to note that each gospel writer is not intimidated by what the other says, therefore they're not copying some extraneous source. They are rather writing from their own heart under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And when you pull it all together, it makes wonderful and beautiful sense.
And so, as Jesus moves along, perhaps going out the gate, moving directly west up that incredible incline to the plateau of Jerusalem, it is brought to His attention that these blind men are crying after Him.
Now, verse 30 says, "Behold," and that is a term of exclamation. And the exclamation here is not because of the blind men, it isn't "Behold, two blind men," like that was some big deal. Probably the same two blind men that had been there a while. It wasn't that they were sitting, they always sat. And it wasn't they were along the road, they were always along the road. The reason they put a "behold" in there is because of what they said. They said, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David." And they call Him by His Messianic title. Two beggars, Mark says, who were begging, Luke says, sitting by the wayside, Matthew says, screaming out the Messianic title. Where did these guys come off as such consummate theologians? Where did they get their information and faith?
That's the "behold." That's the exclamation. Not that they were blind or that they were there or that they were begging or that they were yelling, but it was what they were saying.
At this point we find another wonderful thought. Luke only discusses one of the two, the more prominent one. But never says there was only one. And Mark goes a step further, he only discusses one of the two and he gives us his name. His name is Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus. Now we could wonder why he bothers to name him. Matthew just wants us to see the majesty of Christ. Luke emphasizes the same, but Mark touches the real human cord by naming this man. And perhaps is because he was well-known. Oh, not then but later. So that when Mark pens the gospel and the letters are written to the church to read about the account of the life of our Lord, when they can sit down and read this, they'll have there the story of the conversion of one who by now they greatly love. It's as if Mark is saying, "And you know who one of those guys was? It was none other than your friend, Bartimaeus." And so he picks up a little of history...of the history of one of the beloved brothers in the church by the time the gospel would be read by some.
It's not unusual, by the way, for one gospel writer to mention two and the others to focus on one. You'll find the same thing in the maniac across the Sea of Galilee at Gerasa where some writers note two and some concentrate on the healing of one. That's the background.
Now a brief outline and we'll run right through the simple story. Their sad plight, their sad plight, verse 30, it says, "When they heard Jesus pass by, they cried out saying, Have mercy on us." And then in verse 31 at the end, "They cried again saying the more, Have mercy on us." The word "cry" here is krazo, it means to scream. It's used in the New Testament of the screeching and screaming’s of demon possessed people, Mark 5. It's used of the screaming of insane people and epileptics. It's used of the cry, the loud anguish cry of a mother giving birth to a child.
And the idea of the form of the text here is there was a constant screaming. They were yelling at the top of their voice, "Have mercy on us," a cry of anguish and a cry of desperation, cry of pain. They know that if Jesus gets out of the hearing of their voices, that they're doomed to blindness the rest of their life. They know this is the only one who can do this. And the desperation is powerful, the drama. You can imagine the shrieking and screaming of two men who know they've got one moment in time or the rest of their life they are to be blind stones. And they scream in almost a frenzy. And they say, "Have mercy on us."
They didn't say, "Hey, God gave us a dirty deal, why don't You make it right." They recognized that they needed mercy. "Take pity on us. Look at our sad situation."
There's a sense of humility in that that speaks of the mark of someone with true humility. They wail with an intense desire to be healed, but they make not demands and they make no claim to worthiness. And they are so persistent that they refused to be bludgeoned into silence by the indifferent crowd. Verse 31, "The multitude rebuked them that they should hold their peace and they screamed louder." The world always tries to keep people from getting to Jesus, don't they?
It isn't anything really different. People get disgusted with beggars and if you've ever been in a part of the world where there are a lot of them, you really do kind of slough them off and they do get in the way and they're a little bit obtrusive.
But, their heart was right. "Have mercy on us, take pity." They felt their deep need. They knew they deserved nothing. They cried for mercy. There's no merit in mercy. There’s no merit to be given to one who seeks mercy. They were quite different than the Pharisees who sought no mercy because they believed on the basis of merit; they possessed a right to everything. So we see their sad plight.
And then their strong persistence. In verse 31, it says, "When the crowd tried to shut them up, they just kept screaming louder." And these people really wanted to get to Jesus, with spirit and their strong persistence.
There's a third thing here to note...their sound perception. As blind as they were physically, they were equally able to see spiritually because of something they said. "O Lord, Son of David," verse 30, "O Lord, Son of David," verse 31, that's the Messianic title. They had come to the place where they believed that He was the Messiah. Now to what extent that faith extends? We don’t have an insight into the dimensions of their faith. But it was there to some extent or they wouldn't have been screaming as frantically as they were. There wasn't any doubt in their mind that this was their only chance. Maybe, we can say how sure they were, it was a chance or it was a real opportunity but they knew there wasn't any other and they put all they had into this one.
And when they said, "O Lord," there must have been something in that. We don't know whether they assumed Him to be God, deity or whether they were giving Him a title of honor and respect which indicated that He was a sovereign of some kind, a lord of some kind. But when they said "Son of David," they were identifying Him as the Messiah. For it says in Matthew 1:1 in the beginning of the genealogies of Jesus that He is the Son of David, Son of Abraham. That is the most common Jewish term for the coming king because in 2 Samuel 7:12 and 13, when God gave the covenant and promised that there would come a greater king than David; it would be David's greater Son.
And so, Son of David became the title by which Messiah was designated and Jesus was the Son of David, for Joseph, His father, had come in the Davidic line and Mary, His mother, had also come in the Davidic line. And He indeed was the Son of David. And when the birth of Jesus Christ occurred in Luke 1 verse 32, we read, "He shall be great and be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father, David, and He shall reign and the end of His Kingdom shall never come." And so they give Him a Messianic name.
It's the same thing they called Him in chapter 21 when He came into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday in verse 9, "Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest." And verse 11 they said, "This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." So they are saying, "Jesus of Nazareth from Galilee, a prophet, is none other than Son of David, the one who comes in the name of the highest." And so it is a double act of faith. They have faith in His power to heal; they have faith in His person as Messiah. Maybe it was due to the resurrection of Lazarus. Maybe it was due to the ministry of John the Baptist a few years before, for they would have been in the proximity of the Jordan River out there and they may well have known John the Baptist, they may well have known that he had called for repentance in preparation for the Messiah. We don't know. They may well even have known Isaiah 29:18 which said that when Messiah comes He will give sight to the blind.
But whatever it was, they had enough faith to know that they were in need of mercy and to believe that this was the one who could do for them what they needed done and that He was Lord to some extent and that He was Messiah to the full extent. And we believe that when we have come to the point of all the faith that is possible, the Lord will meet us at that point of faith and take us all the way to redemption.
And that's what He does with these two men. "The faith of the blind rose to the full height of divine possibility." And so, we see their simple plea...sad plight, strong persistence, sound perception, simple plea...verse 32, "And Jesus stood still and called them and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?" He stood still. Stop the whole procession.
Here was a great moment in which three things could occur generally, Messianic proof again, millennial preview, and a marvelous picture of what He would do for the heart. It was a time to demonstrate His credentials all over again, but it was more than that, it was a moment of tender compassion on behalf of two needy people. And He called them.
How did He call them? Well, if we read Mark's account it seems as though He called them with a messenger. Someone ran back and that's another reason why they were out of the city and somebody ran back to these guys who were over there by the gate. And he ran back and in Mark 10:49 says, "Be of good comfort, rise, He calls you." He wants you. And in Mark 10:50 it says, "The blind rose up and threw off his garment and went to Jesus." Once he heard that Jesus had gotten the message, he just threw away his garment and took off. Maybe he figured he'd come back and be able to see enough to find it again.
And Jesus says, "What will you that I should do to you?"
This is to evoke out of their hearts a greater expectation, this is to confirm in the crowd exactly what He was doing. And the response is a simple plea of verse 33, "They said unto Him, Lord, that our eyes may be open." You see, they're confessing they're blind. And that needs to be made very clear. They were blind.
And that leads to their supernatural privilege...supernatural privilege, verse 34, "And Jesus had compassion on them, touched their eyes, immediately their eyes received sight." Now it says that Jesus had compassion. And that's the real message of this wonderful story. He felt their need. He felt their pain. He hurt for them. There is such tenderness in Him. He reached out and He touched their eyes.
And Luke adds, "He said when He touched them, Receive your sight." And instantly all physical laws were set aside and just as God creates something out of nothing, Christ created seeing eyes.
Interesting that the Greek verb here is anablepo, blepo, to see, ana, to see again which is to say that perhaps their blindness had occurred in life, not in birth. And so they were made to see again. Those who have lost their sight have a greater pain to bear than those who were born blind and do not know what they've missed. And so He restores to them their sight again out of compassion, touching and speaking.
Oh, He used many methods. Sometimes He touched, sometimes He didn't. Sometimes they touched Him. Sometimes He spoke, sometimes He merely thought a thought and they were healed. Sometimes He put fingers in ears, sometimes He used clay, sometimes He used spittle. He healed many, many different ways. But always His healings were total, complete, instantaneous and defied any natural explanation.
As a footnote. There are a lot of people around today who want us to believe that they can heal. And we'll turn on our television from time to time and we'll see those kinds of things, but have we ever noticed the absence of blind people? Have we ever noticed that? Oh, they pretend to be able to help people hear and lengthen legs and help people with aches and pains, but where are the people who have glass eyes and all of a sudden they have seeing eyes? This is a monumental miracle. A person who may be crippled and full of pain can be made in the euphoria of a moment and the hype of their own mind and the energy of a situation and in a strong act of confident faith in some healer to stand up and take a few steps, but none of that stuff is going to make a person without eyeballs see. So let the healers’ line up who claim they have the gift and heal the blind or raise the dead.
Now this takes us to a final point. This takes us to a final point in verse 34, "their submissive pursuit." Sad plight, strong persistence, sound perception, simple plea, supernatural privilege, submissive pursuit, they pursue. The end of verse 34, "They followed Him." That's just a simple little statement but it's a beautiful statement.
And what makes it especially beautiful is when they were healed, one of the other gospel writers, Mark, says, "Jesus said to them, Go your way...go your way." Well, what their way was? When He said go your way, what way did they go? Their way was His way from now on. This is just the kind of stuff that indicates real regeneration. And Mark 10:52 says, "Jesus said, Go your way, your faith has made you whole." Now listen carefully. The word there, "your faith has made you whole" is not iaomai, healed you, it's sozo, your faith has saved you. That is the classic New Testament word for "to be saved." Your faith has saved you. And inherent in what our Lord said there in Mark 10:52 to these blind men was this, "You're redeemed."
Now listen carefully. We do not have to have faith in the New Testament record to be healed. There were plenty of people healed in the New Testament who didn't have faith. Dead people don't have faith. There were a lot of people healed in the New Testament that didn't have faith. We can look through all kinds of illustrations of that. But you can find all kinds of healings where there was no faith, but you'll never find salvation without faith. And so, whereas faith is not necessary for healing, faith is necessary for salvation. And when Jesus said, "Your faith hath saved you," that's exactly what He meant. Sure there was physical wholeness there and they did have faith in that, but it was more than that.
In Luke 17, ten lepers came and Jesus said, "Go show yourself to the priest," and on the way all ten were cleansed, katharizo, a form of healing, they were all katharizoed, cleansed of leprosy. How many came back? One, to whom Jesus said, "Your faith has saved you." I believe there were ten healed, there was one...saved.
And there's another reason to think they really had a transformed life. It says they followed Him. Somebody's going to say, "Oh, but they were just following Him to Jerusalem." Well, that's right. But it says in Luke, "They followed, glorifying God." Glorifying God. And it even tells us, interestingly enough, in Luke 18:43, that all the whole multitude started chanting praise to God. And this thing starts mounting. And by the time they get to Jerusalem, we know what broke loose on Palm Sunday, right? He touched that city from top to bottom. He hit the richest guy, Zacchaeus, and a couple of poor beggars, the most despised up and inner, and the most despised down and outers, He got them all. What a demonstration. And it was sort of a final Messianic display that swept the crowd into the hosannas of Palm Sunday.
Let’s hope it's testimony that we've been touched by the compassion of Jesus because we've cried for Him and He's made us see. Let's pray.
We can all say with the blind man in John 9 that once we were blind and now we see when we've been touched with the saving grace of Christ. We thank You for that, our Lord, for whereas we were blind, we do see. And we thank You that Jesus is compassionate, that He is never too busy in the matter of redeeming the universe to stop to hear the cry of those in need.
And that His heart is touched deeply with compassion for that heart. We thank You that when we who are spiritually blind come and cry out, O that our eyes may be opened, that the same Lord of compassion is there to open our eyes as well and our faith can make us to be saved, to be whole in spirit.
We thank You, also, Father, that Jesus Christ has the power to heal all disease and someday will do that in glory at the redemption of our bodies when all sickness and sorrow and pain and death is banished forever. We thank You and we wait for that display of power. In the meantime, because we know that sickness must endure as long as sin endures, we thank You that our Savior is compassionate and He understands our frailties, He feels the pain of our fallenness, He sympathizes with our sorrow and has even in the midst of them His holy purposes that we through those things might be made more like Jesus Christ who is indeed a sympathetic high priest.
We thank You for this glimpse of our dear Savior. We pray that we might see Him with as clear eyes as those two blind men saw Him. The Lord, the Son of David, the rightful King, the one alone who can save those who come in faith and cry for mercy out of their sad distress.
With your head bowed in a moment as we close. If you have never come to the light of Christ, we would invite you to do that this morning. Believe in your heart, confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and accept His work on the cross for you and you will come to see with the eyes of the soul. Amen
Commentary on Matthew 20:17-34
The Third Prediction of the Passion and Triumph. 20:17-19.
I. The Prediction itself.
A. Affinities with 16:21 and 17:22-23.
Here, as in both earlier passages, Jesus predicts both His death and His resurrection. As in 16:21, He identifies His enemies as "the chief priests and the teachers of the law" (Sadducee and Pharisaic interests are combined against the common foe). As in 17:22-23 Jesus had spoken of being "handed over" (paradid©mi) to the Jews, here (using the verb twice) He speaks of being handed over to both Jews and (by their instrumentality) to the Gentiles.
B. Distinctive Features of this Prediction.
In 16:21 Jesus predicted that "He must...suffer many things at the hands of [the Jewish authorities]" before His death. Here He says, "They [the Jewish authorities] will turn Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified" (v. 19). Gentiles do the actual mocking and flogging, but it is the Jews' purpose they fulfill. In other words, according to 20:19 no less than 16:21, Jesus "suffers many things" at Jewish hands.
Noting that Matthew uses three infinitives of purpose ("in order to be mocked, flogged, and crucified") in place of Mk's finite verbs (10:34), Gundry comments: "Thus the center of attention shifts from the action of the Gentiles to the malevolent purpose of the Jewish leaders in handing Jesus over to them" (401). Cf. 26:2; 27:31.
II. The position of the Prediction.
Placed at this juncture, this third prediction (1) provides a foil to the petty ambitions of the disciples, 20:20-24, (2) anticipates the great declaration of v. 28, and (3) reminds readers at what great personal cost God bestows His unmerited favor upon His people (cf. 20:14-15).
The Test of Greatness. 20:20-28.
I. Jesus and the Family of Zebedee. 20:20-23.
A. The Family's Request. 20:20-21.
1. The source of the request. According to Mt, it is the mother of James and John who asks a favor on their behalf; according to Mk (10:35), it is James and John themselves. These two accounts may easily be synthesized.
2. The reason for the request. That such a request comes from this particular family, may be attributed in part to Jesus' choice of James and John to be numbered among the "inner three" (cf. 17:1). There may well be another reason: "The mother of Zebedee's sons probably bore the name Salome (cf. 27:56 with Mark 15:40) and perhaps had Mary the mother of Jesus for a sister (see John 19:25). Family relationship, then, may lie behind the request". This in turn would explain the involvement of both mother and sons (as noted under 1.).
3. The nature of the request. The mother's request that her sons be permitted to sit "on Jesus' right and left" in His kingdom, pertains not to the Messianic banquet (as foreshadowed in the Last Supper) but to the thrones closest to that of Jesus (cf. 19:28; the above interpretation of 20:1-16; and Gundry, 402).
B. Jesus' Response. 20:22-23.
James and John (and their mother) are ignorant of two things.
1. Suffering comes before glory.
a. The cup of Jesus. Jesus asks James and John, "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?" As applied to Jesus, the figure of "drinking the cup [potsrion]" signals His approaching experience of suffering and death (as just predicted, vv. 18-19). As He is the sin-bearer (1:21; 3:15), it also signals His personal experience of the wrath of God. It is chiefly the prospect of experiencing God's wrath, and the consequent separation from the Father, that causes Jesus to cry out in Gethsemane, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup [pots ion] be taken from Me" (26:39). Cf. ibid. 152-53.
b. The disciples' expectation. That disciples could envisage glory without suffering, is clear from 16:21-17:13. Yet perhaps by this stage the sons of Zebedee are beginning to grasp that Jesus must enter into glory by way of suffering (for He has now thrice predicted His death and resurrection). And perhaps the words of v. 22b ("We can" drink your cup) are quite sincere. But if so, the words are as naive as they are sincere. For in the first place, even if the disciples are beginning to accept the inevitability of Jesus' death, they have as yet only the faintest understanding of the meaning of that death (cf. 20:28; 26:26-28). Had they perceived that Jesus would die as the sin-bearer and the object of the divine wrath, would they so quickly have affirmed their ability to drink His cup? And in the second place, the context suggests that the thrones closest to Jesus' own are reserved for those disciples whose suffering comes closest to approximating His own - i.e., whose suffering is marked by the greatest sacrifice and the greatest anguish (cf. v. 28). For James and John to make their present request intelligently, would require that they ask also for the grace needed to bear the suffering which leads to the glory (cf. 24:9; Rom 8:17; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 3:21).
c. The disciples' experience. In response to the disciples' boast (v. 22b), Jesus says, "You will drink My cup" (v. 23a, RSV). The words "My cup" show that it remains Jesus' cup even as the others drink it. NEB well renders, "You shall indeed share My cup." In fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy, James suffers martyrdom at the hands of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:2); and John, while probably dying a natural death in old age, nonetheless suffers for Jesus' sake (Rev 1:9).
2. The Father's will is decisive. "But to sit at My right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by My Father" (v. 23b).
a. The Father's prerogative. According to Jesus, the apostles will sit on twelve thrones alongside His own (19:28). Jesus Himself will be enthroned, because the Father has granted Him, the Son of Man, authority to execute final Judgment (see especially Jn 5:19-27). From this we might infer that the apostles' authority to judge (19:28) also comes from the Father. Mt 20:23 leaves us in no doubt that this is the case; that the Father chooses the occupants of these two thrones, indicates that He has chosen the occupants of all twelve. Jesus declares (19:28) what the Father has authorized (20:23).
b. The Father's choice. The Father has prepared these two thrones for a given two apostles of His choice. The preparation presupposes the choice. Which two apostles are to occupy those thrones has not yet been disclosed. That would undermine the very reason for the choice.
c. The Father's reason. Those two seats are reserved (it appears) for apostles who identify most closely with Jesus in His willingness to serve and to suffer (v. 28, and 1.b. above), and who therefore are the least self-conscious, the least calculating, and the least ambitious (cf. 25:37-39). Such persons will be astounded to learn that they have been assigned the thrones next to Jesus: they would willingly take those furthest removed from Him. Those most like Jesus shall be seated closest to Him. Cf. 1 Cor 4:9, "us apostles...at the end of the procession."
II. Jesus and the Twelve. 20:24-28.
A. The Reaction of the Ten. 20:24.
The reason for their indignation toward James and John, has already been considered.
B. Jesus' Response. 20:25-28.
Having brought all twelve disciples together (v. 25a), Jesus addresses the competitive pride that infects all the disciples and threatens to tear their company asunder.
1. The destructive use of power. "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them" (v. 25b). The way of the world, as typified here by Gentile rulers, is to exercise power by demanding submission and service. The rulers' power readily serves the purpose of pride, in that by asserting their power they can keep their subjects beneath them. Power is the means of continually reminding subjects just who is in charge. And since this is (by the standards of the Kingdom) a spurious power, ever more strenuous effort is needed to maintain it.
2. The creative use of power. "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant [diakonos], and whoever wants to be first must be your slave [doulos]" (20:26-27). The apostles are endowed with stupendous power and authority, that of Jesus Himself (10:1; cf. 28:18-20). Yet as those who are slaves (douloi) of Jesus and fully accountable to Him as Lord, they have no right to lord it over others or to wield power as a means of advancing themselves. On the contrary, their slavery to Jesus manifests itself as slavery to other people (vv. 26-27). As those who experience the security and freedom of the Kingdom, they have no need to lord it over others. As those who emulate Jesus, they discover that self-giving service is the very means by which God releases the true power. Accordingly, the disciples' greatness does not lie beyond the service but precisely in the service. Jesus thus drives home the lesson about true greatness in ch. 18 and the lesson about equality in 20:1-16.
3. Jesus the Servant. Jesus provides the supreme example of selfless service: "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (v. 28).
a. The power of service. If ever one possessed power and authority, it is Jesus the Son of Man. In coming to serve, he does not abandon power, He exercises power. Cf. Phil 2:6-8.
b. The sacrificial death. He comes "to serve and to give", or better, "to serve, i.e. to give" (the "and," kai, is epexegetical; following Gundry, 404). The singular focus of this verse is Jesus' service in death. The language is rooted in Isa 53:10-12.
c. The ransom for many (lutron anti poll©n].
(1) Jesus' death is redemptive. He liberates the "many" from the bondage and guilt of sin, at great cost to Himself.
(2) In bearing the sins of His people (1:21), He simultaneously renders both the lowliest and the noblest service ever. Moreover, as the sin-bearer He dies in the place of the many, as their substitute (note the preposition anti).
(3) The use of the word "many" is explained both by the presence of rabim, "many," in Isa 53:11, 12, and by Jesus' purpose to save a host of people from among both Jews and Gentiles. The term "many" embraces all of those, from whatever nation, for whom Jesus dies. The contrast is drawn between the many and the few (for some interpreters, "many" is equivalent to "all"). With respect to the Gentiles, observe how this saying relates to other passages: Before Jesus' death the proclamation of the Kingdom is confined almost entirely to Jews, both in Jesus' preaching (15:24) and in that of His disciples (10:6). Two things account for the shift from those sayings to the Great Commission of 28:18-20, namely Israel's rejection of their Messiah (21:18-22:14) and Messiah's death as "a ransom for many." Before the Gospel of liberation from sin may be taken to the Gentiles, the Savior must actually accomplish their liberation from sin. The work of salvation must precede the news of salvation.
The Healing of Two Blind Men. 20:29-34.
I. The Place. 20:29.
The last stage of the ascent to Jerusalem (cf. 20:17) was "the road from Jericho, leading up the Wadi Qelt. On either side of the lower reaches of the wadi lay NT Jericho, a new foundation built by Herod the Great as his winter residence...about a mile south of OT Jericho". OT Jericho lay about 17 miles northeast of Jerusalem, NT Jericho about 16. In Mt and Mk (10:46) the episode occurs as Jesus is leaving Jericho, whereas in Lk (18:35) Jesus is entering the town. One of the suggestions for harmonizing the accounts that Mt and Mk speak of old Jericho, and Lk of new).
II. Affinities with 9:27-31.
In both passages, (1) Mt speaks of two men, not just one (cf. Mk 8:22-26; 10:46-52); (2) the men confess Jesus to be "Son of David" (once there, twice here), and cry for mercy; and (3) Jesus touches their eyes, whereupon their sight is restored.
III. Distinctive features of 20:29-34.
Here (1) the men acclaim Jesus "Lord" (kyrios) as well as "Son of David"; and (2) Jesus includes no command to silence (here Jesus heals in public, there in private, 9:28; also, as Jesus is now much closer to the cross, there is less need to protect against the spread of false Messianism). Most significantly, while the first story places much greater stress than this one upon the blind men's faith (see 9:28-29; in 20:30-33 faith is not expressly mentioned, though it clearly underlies the men's words), the present story, in keeping with the immediately preceding verses, is concerned to present Jesus as a compassionate Servant to the needy. The verb splagchnizomai ("to show compassion") is used here (v. 34) but not there. Jesus uses His great power to heal others, not to save Himself.
Lives are changed when they come to Jesus a He commanded: 2Th 2:10 And with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2Th 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 2Th 2:12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe (obey) the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
When the truth is presented to the church people today, we will either stop, think, or reason in their minds where they stand with God. We will think deeply about where we will spend eternity and go and seek the truth at all cost. But we refuse sound doctrine, and refuse to love anything besides our own misplaced conceived notions about Jesus Christ, why He came to earth as God, and died to set us free from the bondages of sin and the corrupt ways of the world.
We love the lie, because it asks us to do nothing, to do nothing to prove our heart is real before God, not perfect, but in perfect submission to His will and word.
But sad to say the strong delusion is everywhere today, and many of us who think are saved by some provision that was never made are still under this delusion, and refuse to examine ourselves to be sure we are in the faith, thus leading us down the wide road to destruction, loving the lie that declares us a poor, helpless sinner after we say the sinners prayer, and think we are right with God.
We fall for every wind of doctrine, being led into a ditch by many well-meaning, and not so well meaning so called bible scholars who think we are safe, secure, and in the truth, when in reality we too are under the strong delusion, God promised to send to those who persist in the lie, making it virtually impossible for them to escape the snare of the father of lies!
May we wake up, Come to love the truth, by counting the great cost of coming clean before God, loving His truth, and standing fast in it!Healing on the Way
“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” (vv. 33–34).
Christ began His final trip to Jerusalem after Peter’s great confession (Matt. 16:13–23). In all likelihood, He traveled mostly along the eastern bank of the Jordan River as He and His disciples moved southward from Caesarea Philippi. This was a common route for Galilean pilgrims in His day, and the crowds that we have read about during this trip are those Jews who, while traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover, have seen the deeds of Jesus and are hoping that He is the Messiah (17:14–18; 19:1–2). These men and women are among those who will hail our Savior’s triumphal entry into the Holy City (21:1–11).
Today’s passage indicates that Jesus will soon arrive in Jerusalem to complete His messianic work, for He has been in Jericho, located fifteen miles or so from the Holy City, about a day’s journey in first-century Judea. Leaving Jericho, Christ and His followers begin the ascent 3,000 feet up to Jerusalem, but they do not get very far before meeting two desperate men in need. These blind men, one of whom is named Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46), beg Jesus to heal them, confessing Him as the “Son of David” (Matt. 20:30), a title loaded with messianic assumptions. Knowing that the Messiah is present gives them hope that He will fulfill His call to work miracles and give them sight (see Isa. 35).
Yet the crowd is displeased with these blind men, rebuking them as they cry out to Jesus (Matt. 20:31). They probably feel the beggars are unworthy of the Messiah’s attention since many first-century Jews thought blindness was God’s punishment for sin (John 9:1–3). It is also likely that they do not want Jesus to “waste His time” on these blind men. Those who believe Jesus might be the Christ would be looking for Him to enter Jerusalem immediately so that He might overthrow the Romans and set Israel over the world.
For Jesus, however, it is not a waste of time to pause and heal the blind men, so moved is He by compassion (Matt. 20:32–34). This healing is against the people’s idea of what the Messiah should do, and it portends stronger opposition to come. The crowd that now does not want Him to help a fellow Israelite will later call for Jesus’ head when He does not live up to their expectations (27:15–23).Coram Deo When we do the work of ministry it can be easy to get so caught up in the big plans and programs we have going that we miss the needs of certain individuals among us. As followers of Jesus, we must imitate His compassion and take the time to minister to hurting individuals even if it may sometimes get in the way of our own plans and purposes. What are we doing in our churches to make sure people are shown compassion and not forgotten?
Lessons On Seeing From A Blind Man (Matthew 20 29-34)
Jesus was now on His way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with His disciples. Infinitely more important than that, however, He was going there to suffer and die (20:18-19). He would be celebrating the Passover for the last time and then giving Himself as the one, final, perfect Passover Lamb, sacrificed for the sins of the whole world (Heb. 7:27).
His arrest, trial, and crucifixion were but a few weeks away. Why, we may wonder, did He take time to minister to two blind beggars? In light of the disciples’ slowness to learn and believe, why did He not spend the last few days alone with them, drilling into them what He so much wanted them to understand?
The reason was His compassion (v. 34). When better could Jesus have demonstrated the depth and breadth of divine compassion than while He was on the way to His crucifixion? The Twelve would one day look back on the healing in Jericho and on all His other acts of mercy and realize that their Lord was never too preoccupied to be compassionate, never in too much of a hurry to heal the afflicted, never in too much agony Himself to be insensitive to the agony of others. That realization itself would be one of the most important lessons they would learn from their Master. In these few verses is found one of the most beautiful portrayals of the loving, compassionate heart of God.
We also see demonstrated in the actions of these two blind men how each of us are to approach the Lord.
1A. The Men (20:29-30)
1B. The blind men and their condition (20:29-30a)
The crowd that followed (20:29)
· Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem His disciples and are great crowd of pilgrims followed Him.
The condition they were in (20:30a)
· They were blind
· They were beggars (Mark 10:46)
This is our condition without Christ
Revelation 3:17-18 "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing', and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked , 18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
John 3:19-20 19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
We must see our true condition before we will call on Jesus!
2B. The blind men and their conviction (20:30-31)
Their plea (20:30)
· They were desperate.
Cried out, (krazo); literally to cry out in anguish; it is the same word to describe the cries of a woman during childbirth
· They were broken.
· They cried for mercy!
21 times the Psalmist pleads with God for mercy.
Luke 18:13-14 13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
· They believed
O Lord, Son of David, this was the popular Jewish designation for the Messiah.
Their persistence (20:31)
· They would not be denied.
· They would not be discouraged.
No one had to beg these men to come to Christ!
Why? Because they were convinced that Jesus was who He said He was and that He alone was their hope.
2A. The Master (20:32-34)
1B. His call (20:32)
Jesus stops for them.
Psalm 4:1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer
Jesus stoops to them.
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.
Psalm 4:3 3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him.
2B. His compassion (20:33-34a)
The Lord’s motive
· Not the crowd
· Not the worthiness or usefulness of the men.
· Not the faith of the men.
· His sovereign choice, His compassion!
2 Timothy 1:9 (God) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
The Lord’s method
· He touched them and they were healed.
3B. His converts (20:34b)
They followed Him
· Though many followed Jesus without true faith these men seem a bit different.
They had faith in Him
Mark 10:52 Then Jesus said to him, "Go your way; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.
They glorified Him
Luke 18:43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
We recognize our lost condition.
We are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…”
We must humble ourselves before the Lord.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
We must cry out to God for mercy.
Psalm 119:145-146 145 I cry out with my whole heart; Hear me, O Lord! I will keep Your statutes. 146 I cry out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
We must trust God to save us.
Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid…"
I want Jesus to "open my eyes" too so that I may be closer to Him with peace. Blessings.
I want Jesus to give me wisdom & I want him to make me a better man of God!
I want Jesus to draw me closer to Him. As this blessing takes its course, I want my family to experience Him and come to know him as their personnel, Lord and Savior. And I would be truly happy.
I hope He'll provide what's best for me! Thy will be done in my life for I know it's going to be the best!
I want Jesus to make me a strong Christian. I want to be the person He wants me to be. I want to know and do His will. I want my relationship with Jesus to grow. I want to know and love Him!!!
I want Jesus to make me more firm and strong in my believe and take me to the highest faith always and guide me throughout my life. I want him to provide me a man of believe (Follower of Jesus) as my life partner
I want the LORD Jesus to open my eyes so that I could see Him and to open my ears so I could hear Him and to have wisdom to spread the good news.
I believe Jesus knows what I need or wants Him to do for me because my thoughts and my groaning are always before Him. But as the blind men did ,I will continue to place before Him my fate as a retired public worker in need of where and how to shelter my family let alone to give them three square meals a day..
I want Jesus to save me from all troubles. I pray Jesus to solve all my problems and give me strength and peace.
I want JESUS to give my mother perfect healing of breast cancer, electric brain, success in my posture exam that is coming up in few days from now, and finally financial brake true.
Respectfully, I'd like for JESUS to continue to help me in many ways. Most importantly, growing closer to him and always tailoring my life and the way I conduct myself as JESUS did. Secondly, to continue to bless me with the HOLY SPIRIT so that I may always be led by the SPIRIT and not by human nature. Finally, I continue to thirst in many ways and would like to drink from the water that JESUS provides. The water that when consumed, you never thirst again. For this I pray is JESUS' name. AMEN.
On this weekend of Pentecost I'd like to ask God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to let the power of The Holy Spirit be at work in the Pope who is the head of the Catholic Church.
That we can all ask Jesus to "OPEN OUR EYES" so we can all listen and give more attention to the Pope's teachings since he is guided by God's word. That before making choices we may all consider what Jesus would do. Especially in politics what would Jesus say about our choices (Keeping in mind God's 10 Commandments).That we all may find joy from reading and understanding the bible. Also for us to all ask the Holy Spirit to touch us and enter into our hearts. For us to all become instruments of Peace, Love and Joy. See God in even person we interact with and most of all keep Jesus Christ in everything we do and say. Amen.
When we do not know which decision to make that we may Open the Bible and re-read the 10 Commandments and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us because he will :)
I want Jesus to protect my three sons and to guide me in following Him so I will never fail in my belief in Him. Blessings.
To love like he does.
From today Jesus to inspire every move I make. I want to feel His presence
I want Gods presence at all time to be filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom that I would make the right choose
I want my Lord Jesus to open my eye spiritually and provide light to the path that I walk, so that I never stumble and fall into the pit of darkness. I want Him to be my shepherd so that I as His humble sheep, walk in His guidance and do not get lost in sin.
Jesus know the blind man what he is going to ask Jesus but Jesus is testing his faith Jesus never leave me always I want to follow him I need His strength to do good things for others the Holy Spirit always guiding to me.
I want Jesus that he should fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit and be with me now and forever. Jesus should protect me and guide and guard me always.
I think firstly I want to ask him for forgiveness and for him to completely purify me and make me clean once again. I also want him to open the eyes of my heart so that I may see more things through his eyes. I would also want him to give me wisdom and understanding to better serve him. I also want him to show me what he wants me to do for him and also to give me a bigger heart that loving and forgiving. I would also like to be filled with more of the Holy Spirit.
To get rid of my evil things, open my eyes so I can see the truth and open my ears so I can hear the word of God and keep the word forever.
I want Jesus to keep me in His sight, help me overcome my sins and follow Him always. I love you Jesus. Blessings.
l want Jesus to increase my faith and help me to be a person who is helpful to the society and to have the fruits of the holy spirit which are love, joy, peace, humility, kindness, tolerance, a forgiving heart and to be the best mother for my kids and husband.
I want Jesus to increase my faith in Him, and to trust in His love, and know that if I lean on Him, He will take care of my needs. To help me to be patient and tolerant of others. To give me a forgiving heart, that I may learn to forgive and forget; and to forgive me my sins, and help me to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
I would like to first Thank Jesus for all of the blessings he has given to me. I would like to ask and invite God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to purify me and come live in my heart, to speak with me and guide me.
I would like to ask Jesus to give me the wisdom to understand his teachings. Just like the blind men, I would like to ask Jesus for a kind heart (to open my Heart and give me eyes to see his truth) so that I could see Jesus in everyone I encounter and that I may treat others as he commanded we should with love, respect and less judgment.
I would like to ask Jesus for inner peace, courage and a strong, clear voice so that I may do his will and help others. Amen
Ps. I would like to ask God to teach the world how to choose Love every minute of today in everything we do. Choose to love instead of war, unkindness or greed. Choose Love with our families and always turn the other cheek. Choose to love even when driving in our cars, have patients in traffic. Let us all who claim to love Jesus be that example of Love :) every moment every day.
By: Gregorio Magdaleno
Category: Two Blind Men Receive Sight