3number0232.  “Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed.  And as they followed they were afraid.  Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him:

As they are on the road going up to Jerusalem and the Lord Jesus is going before them, the disciples are suddenly filled with amazement.  The reason for the disciples’ sudden awe is not given here, and it is hard to speculate what might have caused it.  Yet we learn that they were also afraid, and this is easier to understand.  We have reason to believe from other gospels that it was fear for the Lord’s life, for they knew how the religious leaders in Jerusalem hated the Lord, and they were afraid they would try to kill Him.  Perhaps their amazement, then, was caused by His implying that those who were in power did not deserve it.  Few would dare to speak against the rulers who wielded so much power, and they could have been amazed that He dared to do so.  This could have made them realize that the Lord was going to confront these same leaders in Jerusalem, and they feared what the outcome would be.  This could explain why He took them aside and started to explain to them what was about to happen to Him.  He wanted to reveal to them what God’s plan for Him was, and that they did not need to fear, for all was proceeding according to His design.

33.  “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles;

The Lord reveals to them God’s plan, yet what He says here does nothing to allay their fears, only to confirm them.  Notice how exactly He set forth to them what would occur, even down to the fact that His arrest would be the result of a betrayal.

34.  “And they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him.  And the third day He will rise again.”

Again, He gives great detail, even down to the mocking of the Gentiles to whom He would be handed over.  Again, this must have seemed to be small comfort to the disciples.  However, He ends with a note of hope, telling them of His future resurrection from the dead.

35.  Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”

These two disciples come to the Lord and ask Him to grant them their desire even before they tell Him what it is.  The disciples’ question reminds me of little children trying to fool someone into giving them their way.  Yet, of course, the Lord knew what was on their hearts, and so He did not fall into their trap.

36.  And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The Lord does not commit to anything, but instead asks them to say what they want Him to do for them.

37.  They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.”

This request did not merely entail where their chairs would be placed relative to the Lord’s in His glory.  Rather, this had to do with position, as where you are seated indicates how important you are, and therefore is a figure for the power you possess.  James and John were asking to be the two most powerful men in Christ’s Kingdom.  Imagine the arrogance of even asking for such a position!  We could almost marvel at the disciples, but instead we must recognize that we ourselves are often the same way, thinking that we can somehow take advantage of our position with the Lord to make Him give us what we want.  Such thoughts are vain, just as those of these two disciples were.

38.  But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you ask.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

The Lord points out the ignorance of their question.  They had no idea what they were asking for.  Then, He asks them if they are able to drink the cup that He drinks, and be baptized with the baptism He is baptized with.  The reference to the cup and the baptism are both speaking of His coming death for the sins of the world.  This is an interesting question to ask in regards to their request.  I wonder if this indicates that the two most powerful men in the Kingdom next to the Lord will both have been martyrs prior to the resurrection?  Of course, there is no way of knowing, as Scripture does not reveal to us the relative importance of prominent men in the Kingdom.

39.  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized;

They confidently assert that they are able to drink this cup and be baptized with this baptism.  Again, they had no idea what they were saying.  They were no doubt thinking of drinking from a real cup that the Lord was going to drink from, and being baptized with some baptism like that John had done.  They did not realize that the Lord was talking about the suffering and death He was about to go through.

Of course, no one can really suffer even remotely close to what the Lord did, when He not only took upon Himself great physical suffering, but also took upon Himself the sins of the world.  Yet these men were going to die a martyr’s death, so in a way they were going to drink that cup and be baptized with that baptism, and the Lord tells them so.  Little did they realize what His answer meant!  We read of James’ martyrdom in Acts 12:1-2.  We have no record of John’s martyrdom, but tradition says he died in boiling oil.

40.  “But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared.”

The Lord Jesus gives the only proper answer to their question, which was that they had no right to request such a thing, as they were asking for something that was reserved by God for the persons He had in mind.  It is easy to point fingers, but I wonder how many times we ourselves have asked God for things we really had no right to ask?

41.  And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.

The other disciples take a dim view of James’ and John’s attempt to talk the Lord into a position higher than that of the rest of the twelve.  Their indignation stemmed, no doubt, more from jealousy for their own positions than it did righteous indignation that they had asked the Lord something so inappropriate.  And perhaps they were upset that they had not thought of asking something like this first!

42.  But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.

This might have started to escalate into a division among the disciples.  At any rate, Christ sees that they all need correcting, and so He calls them all together and admonishes them.  They know that the rulers of the nations lord it over their subjects, and exercise their authority over them.  This is what the disciples were desiring to do, even among each other!

43.  “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.

The Lord’s plan for them is the opposite of the way they were behaving, and the opposite of the way things were done among the nations.  The one who wanted to be great among them must become their servant.  How different the Lord’s ways are from the ways of man!

44.  “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

The one who is first is the one who is above and who represents the others.  Normally, this one would be the ruler over the others.  Yet now the Lord tells them that the one who wants to be first among them must be the slave of all!  The word in verse 43 (translated “servant”) meant a free slave.  This word, however, means a bondsman.  It is one level of servitude greater than the previous verse.  The one who wants to be the chief among them must serve even more than the one who merely wants to be great.

45.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

This is the reason that the authority He has called them to will require them to serve rather than to be served.  He Himself had come to serve, and even to give His life (in Greek, this is psuche, the word that means “soul”) for many.  Thus, they were to do the same.  We can all learn a valuable lesson from these words.

46.  Now they came to Jericho.  As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging.

As they travel, they come to Jericho.  Having passed through it, as they go out, they pass a blind man, Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus.  (Actually, “Bartimaeus” means “son of Timaeus” in Aramaic.)  This blind man Bartimaeus is sitting by the roadside begging.  This was really the only trade that a blind man could do at that time, there not being the sort of help for the blind that we have today.  Eye diseases, unfortunately, were common in the Middle East at that time, and so the plight of this man was not uncommon.  Certainly, the sight of a blind beggar was one that the people of that time would have been very used to.

47.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Hearing that it was the Lord who drew near, Bartimaeus starts crying out to Him for pity.  Indeed, he was in a most pitiful state.  It was hard enough to make a living in Israel at that time with all your senses intact!

48.  Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

As I said, blind beggars were common, and so Bartimaeus seems to get little sympathy from the crowd around the Lord.  Yet he is not discouraged by the warnings of the crowd, but merely cries out to the Lord all the more.  Let us never let others discourage us from coming to our Lord for the help that we need!

49.  So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.  Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.”

The crowd did not want to waste time on Bartimaeus, but the Lord had no such feelings.  He stood still and commanded that Bartimaeus be called to him.  Now that they know the Lord desires it, they tell the blind man to be of good cheer, for the Lord was calling Him.  What a blessing it is to know that the Lord is not too busy, but that He actually wants to speak with us!

50.  And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

He throws aside his outer garment, rises, and comes to the Lord.  We can only imagine what was going on in his mind and heart at this time.  Perhaps he sensed that this encounter with the Lord was going to change his life forever.

51.  So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

The Lord wasted no time, asking Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do for him.  Surely the blind man must have thought this was obvious, yet the Lord wanted him to say it.  It is always good, when we come to the Lord for help, that we know what it is that we want from Him.  This blind man knew what his problem was, and knew how he wanted the Lord to fix it.  He seemed to have no doubt in his mind that the Lord could give him what he wanted.

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.

The Lord gives him what he desired.  He credits the man’s faith with making him well.  In the same way, it is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that cures us from the spiritual blindness that we were in without Him!  Then, once he has received his sight, Bartimaeus follows the Lord on the road.  We might imagine that he was most eager to be a while longer with this One Who had given him such a great blessing!

Some, in noting this miracle of blind Bartimaeus, have erred in believing that this account is in conflict with the accounts in Matthew and Luke.  Let us compare the accounts to see if we can work out what is going on here.

   1.)  Here, in Mark 10, the Lord is going out of Jericho when He meets Bartimaeus.  In Matthew 20:29-30, Christ had left Jericho.  But in Luke 18:35, we read that the miracle occurred as the Lord Jesus was coming into Jericho.  Which is correct?

   2.)  Here, we read that there was one man on the road out of Jericho, blind Bartimaeus.  However, in Matthew 20:30, we read that there were two blind men sitting by the road.  And in Luke 18:35 we read only of one certain, unnamed blind man.  Which is correct?

   3.)  Here, we read that Bartimaeus cried, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  However, in Matthew 20:30, we read that the men cried, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!”  And in Luke 18:38 we read that the blind man cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Which is correct?

   4.)  Here, we read that many warned him to be quiet, but he called out all the more, repeating the same phrase.  However, in Matthew 20:31, we read that “the multitude” warned them to be quiet, but they only cried out all the more, repeating the exact same phrase.  And in Luke 18:39 we read that “those who went before” warned the blind man to be quiet, but he cried out all the more, repeating the same phrase.  Which is correct?

   5.)  Here, we read that Jesus commands him to be called.  Then, when he has come to Him, He asks him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  The same question is asked by the Lord in Matthew 20:32 as well as Luke 18:41.

   6.)  Here, Bartimaeus replies, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”  However, in Matthew 20:33, the blind men reply, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  And in Luke 18:41 the blind man replies, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”  Which is correct?

   7.)  Here, Jesus replies, “Go your way; your faith has made you whole.”  Bartimaeus is instantly healed and follows Jesus down the road.  In Matthew 20:34, however, no words of Jesus are recorded.  Rather we read that He touched their eyes, and they received sight and followed Him.  And in Luke 18:42 Jesus again speaks, saying, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  We read that he immediately received his sight and followed the Lord, praising God.

So we see that, though all these accounts are similar, they are not the same.  One took place on the way into Jericho, whereas the other two were on the way out.  One involved two blind men, whereas the others involved only one.  In one case Jesus touched the blind men to heal them whereas in the others He only spoke to them.  And the words of the blind men in all three cases are different, although Jesus’ words are exactly the same.  Thus we see that not one but three miraculous healings of blind men took place in the vicinity of Jericho that day.  Not one or two but four blind men were healed.  Those who see a discrepancy here are creating it themselves by assuming that all three accounts are the same, and then criticizing the differences.  Do we not realize that the differences are so deliberate as to indicate that they are purposeful?  Was Christ only able to heal one blind man a day?  Why not four?  Was there only one blind man in all of Jericho that the Lord could only heal one?  No, these are all separate accounts, chosen by the three gospel writers so as to emphasize the Lord’s power and declare the same thing through three separate events.  We must not read in a discrepancy here where there is none. 

The gospel accounts are all specifically different, and even as we would expect them to be.  We would imagine that all the blind men would say different things, although all similar, since they all thought the same thing about Jesus, that He was the Messiah, and since they all desired healing.  The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, when faced with three similar situations used the same words three times, as we would expect Him to.  However, the great Healer does not have to work the same way every time, and in the case of the two blind men He proves this by touching them to heal them.  This is what we should see in these passages; not a contradiction, but a three-fold witness to the same great healing power of the Lord.

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