Matthew 20:32 So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?”
Read: Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43 – handout
Setting: near Jericho
about to enter Jericho, accompanied by large crowd with some going on ahead (Luke 18:35-36, 38)
leaving Jericho followed by large crowd (Matt. 20:29; Mark 10:46)
how many blind men? one (Mark 10:46; Luk 18:35)? two (Matt. 20:30)? is Mark’s Bartimaeus Luke’s certain blind man?
contradictions? or can the accounts be reconciled?
one city, two miracles — or — two cities, one miracle
Another possible way to harmonize these passages is to understand that at the time of Christ there actually were two Jerichos. First, there was the Jericho of Old Testament history (Joshua 6:1ff.; 1 Kings 16:34). In the first century, however, that city existed as a small village lying mostly in ruins, and about two miles south of that site was the new Jericho built by Herod the Great. The Lord, therefore, traveling toward Jerusalem, would first pass through the Old Testament Jericho, and then, some two miles to the southwest, go through Herodian Jericho. Accordingly, the references of Matthew and Mark to Jesus leaving Jericho would allude to old Jericho, whereas Luke’s observation of Jesus drawing near to Jericho would refer to the newer city. Hence, the miracles under consideration may have been performed between the two Jerichos (Robertson, 1930, 1:163).
one more tidbit: perhaps as many as 10% of population suffered from blindness – ophthalmic conjunctivitis, spread by flies, aggravated by sand/dust/dry air
Person(s) being questioned:
blind man/men seated by the road, high traffic area, almost certainly begging… the only option for someone with serious disability
unemployed and unemployable; also social stigma attached to blindness – “Rabbi, who sinned…?” (John 9:2); and were disqualified from certain duties in the church (Lev. 21:17-24)
God did expect his people to show compassion to the blind (Lev. 19:14; Deut. 27:18) but… often not the reality of daily life
Question behind the question:
you beg for mercy, you ask for help, precisely what do you expect me to do
what kind of “help” do you want – the kind that does everything for you? or doing what you cannot do for yourself?
if my definition of mercy/help is different from yours, what will you do with it? will you still accept it?
hard to know exactly what to expect:
handout – generous, perhaps even lavish grant of money or tangible resources; require someone to act as caregiver
healing – what they asked for, recovery of their sight so they could have normal lives
forgiveness/eternal life – a possibility, since they called Jesus by Messianic title (Son of David)
btw, same is true today – may have strong suspicions what to expect but don’t always know for certain
what someone in need wants not always what is best for them
the one seeking to meet the need should use discernment and communicate clearly
the person asking may need help distinguishing between felt need and true need – not Advil for a headache caused by a brain tumor
not only have lots of people with their hand out, have many others to tell us what the needy need
is true at traffic lights, also true inside the church – here’s what we need to give people to get them to come
our task: help those who will be helped with the help they truly need as God supplies opportunity and resources