In the Fulness of Time/Part 126

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2010
The passage here details the healing of blind Bartimaeus. But Jesus used several different methods to heal blindness in the New Testament. Did Bartimaeus and his companion also receive forgiveness from their sins? What do Jesus’ miracles tell us about Him?

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Two Men Seek the Messiah for Sight. Matthew 20:29-34

Matthew 20:29-34 “And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 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, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them that they should hold their peace, but they cried out the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And Jesus stood still and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”

This paragraph contains a number of things calling for comment, the first of which has to do with Jericho. Matthew and Mark refer to Jesus departing from Jericho, whereas Luke 18:35 says: “as he was come near unto Jericho.” There have been a number of ways given to resolve this problem, the best of which is that Jesus was leaving the old city of Jericho and coming near to the new city which was built by Herod.

Second, Matthew includes two blind men, but Mark and Luke mention only one; in fact, only Mark names him as “blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus.” Even so, blind Bartimaeus could have been the spokesman for himself and a friend.

A third thing worth noting is the title “Son of David” invoked by the blind men. In discussing this title in Matthew 9, it was observed that it was used seven times in Matthew, only once in Mark and Luke (on this very occasion of healing the blind) and never used in the Gospel of John. However, this should not be surprising, since Matthew emphasizes the presentation of Christ as the Messiah/King of the Jews. Further, the use of the title in all three Synoptic Gospels right before His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem is a final verification of Christ’s right to the throne of David, which, by the way, was even mentioned in Luke 1:31-33 before the birth of Christ.

A fourth question is one that frequently arises because of the declaration of Christ in Luke 18:42: “Receive thy sight; thy faith hath saved thee.” Mark 9:52 uses the same word, translated “saved,” namely sodzo. Were these two men saved from their sins at the same time they received their sight? This word sodzo is used in a variety of ways in the New Testament, including deliverance (Acts 7:25), preservation (2 Timothy 4:18), health (Acts 27:34), healing (Mark 5:23), as well as salvation from sin (Matthew 1:21; Romans 5:9). The context usually clarifies which meaning is intended. Here in the case of these two blind men, several things may be observed. They called Jesus “Lord” and “Son of David” in spite of being rebuked by the multitude. This shows courage and perhaps true testimony as well. They gave glory to God for their healing, which may indicate true faith (though the crowd also praised God, Luke 18:43). Finally, they followed Jesus. Yet, all of these things may be circumstantial evidence, since there is no other Scripture which refers to the incident outside the Synoptic Gospels. We would like to believe that they were given healing of their sins as well as their sight!

A final word must be added to show the various methods Jesus used in giving sight to the blind. Here He cured blindness with a compassionate touch, which brought immediate sight. This same, simple direct touch was used in Matthew 9:29. In Matthew 12:22 Jesus cured blindness and dumbness in a man who was possessed with a demon. Upon Jesus’ casting out the demon, “the blind and dumb both spoke and saw.” Jesus also cured blindness (and other diseases) in many people at once (Matthew 15:29-31) when the multitude put their “lame, blind, dumb, maimed and many others” at the feet of Jesus, and He healed them all!

A fourth method is recorded in Mark 8:22-26 where Jesus cured blindness in two steps. First, He led the blind man out of town and spit on his eyes. At this point the man could only discern men “like trees, walking.” Then Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes and made him look up; this time he saw “every man clearly.”

Finally, in John 9:6 Jesus “spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” After this He told the man to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash. He went and washed and returned seeing. The only answer the Jewish rulers gave to the testimony of the blind man was to cast him out of the synagogue (John 9:22, 34).

All of these miracles, and many more, were performed to prove that Jesus is the Messiah. Next, Matthew will share the final presentation and rejection of the King as He rides into Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of an ass. “In the fulness of time,” Jesus will return and reject all those who refused to receive Him as their Lord and King/Messiah!

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