Matthew 20:29-34 (Jesus Heals the Blind, Part 1)

Recall that Jesus had previously left Galilee and been ministering in the regions of Judea beyond the Jordan (Mat 19:1-2).  He has now left there and is on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover where He has forewarned that He will be betrayed and delivered up to the Gentiles to be crucified (Mat 20:17-19).  Where does Matthew say in Mat 20:29 that Jesus was at on His journey when the miracle described in this passage took place?  How does Matthew and Mark’s description of where it took place differ from Luke’s?  Compare Mar 10:46 and Luk 18:35.  How are we to resolve the apparent discrepancy between Matthew and Mark saying the miracle took place as He was leaving Jericho, and Luke saying it took place as He was approaching Jericho?  Note: Very near the ancient Old Testament city of Jericho Herod the Great had built a newer, more modern city that because of its proximity to the old city would also have been referred to as Jericho, especially to a Gentile audience outside of Israel such as Luke was addressing.  Hence, it is quite possible to understand Matthew and Mark to mean that Jesus was leaving the old city and Luke to mean that He was approaching the newer city.  Whose house does Luke say Jesus stayed at in Jericho, and why does it make sense that this one would reside in the newer, more modern city?  See (Luk 19:1-10).

How many blind men does Matthew say there were in Mat 20:30, and how is this description different from that of Mark and Luke?  How are we to resolve the apparent discrepancy between there being one or two blind men?  Would it be unusual for there to be two blind men in the same vicinity?  Note: Eye problems were much more common in times past, especially in Bible lands where the dust, glare of the sun, and unsanitary conditions contributed to the spread of contagious eye diseases[1].  Should we suppose that the specific eye maladies of the two men mentioned by Matthew were identical, or is it possible that one stood out as more notable than the other?  I.e., are there varying degrees of blindness?  Cf. Mar 8:23-25.  Is it also possible that although there were two men with eye diseases whom Jesus healed, one in particular stood out as being particularly vocal in seeking Jesus’ attention?  In light of the large number of miracles and healings that Jesus performed (see Mat 4:24, 8:16, 12:15, Joh 21:25), would it be unusual for Mark and Luke in their descriptions of the event to mention only one because he stood out as especially prominent, not only among the two healed at that time, but among the many others whom Jesus healed?  What additional information does Mark include that makes clear there was a special prominence in his eyes of the one he describes?  See Mar 10:46.  Recall that the upper room where the apostles ate the Passover may well have been in Mark’s house (cf. Mar 14:12-16,51-52) where Christ’s followers would later gather especially during the annual feasts (Act 12:12-13, cf. Act 1:13-15)—which gatherings became the source of much of Mark’s information for his and the other two synoptic gospels; is it possible then that as Bartimaeus followed Jesus after his healing (Mar 10:52), and Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the Passover, that Mark may have met this man, and so his account, upon which Luke’s is also based (cf. Luk 1:2-3), mentioned only him because he had personally come to know him?  Considering Matthew’s prior vocation, why would it perhaps not be unusual for him to give more attention to headcount and mention that there was actually more than one healed on the occasion?

Considering that they were blind, how did the men come to know that Jesus was passing by?  See Luk 18:36.  What does this indicate about the significant number of people who were travelling with Jesus?  What does Luk 18:37 indicate about the multitude’s perception of Jesus being more than just one of their number going up to Jerusalem for the Passover?  Hint: notice that they didn’t answer that they were pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover.  Who did they believe Him to be, and what was their expectation of what was going to happen in Jerusalem?  Hint: upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, by what title did the men address Him as they called out to Him, and what was the significance of that title?  See Mat 20:30, cf. Mat 22:42.  What in particular was the plea of their cry?  Why is such a plea especially appropriate for blind men, and for what reason is it also appropriate for all who would call upon the Savior?  Cf. Mat 9:27 and see Deut 28:29, Zep 1:17, Isa 59:9-10, Rev 3:17-18.

 


1. Thomson says of Ramleh, “The ash-heaps are extremely mischievous; on the occurrence of the slightest wind the air is filled with a fine, pungent dust, which is very injurious to the eyes. I once walked the streets counting all that were either blind or had defective eyes, and it amounted to about one-half the male population. The women I could not count, for they are rigidly veiled” (“Land and Book”). Palgrave says that ophthalmia is fearfully prevalent, especially among children. “It would be no exaggeration to say that one adult out of every five has his eyes more or less damaged by the consequences of this disease” (“Central and Eastern Arabia”).  (Vincent’s Word Studies).

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