christ-in-tomb02Luke 18 Part 3

31. Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.

The Lord now takes his twelve, chosen disciples aside to communicate to them privately. As we see throughout the gospels, these twelve men often receive special revelations from the Lord that the mass of His disciples do not receive. The three of Peter, James, and John from among the twelve are the only ones who received more special revelations than this group.

They are currently going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast. This, of course, was not news to the disciples. Yet the Lord is about to reveal to them what will happen while they are there. All things that are written by the prophets concerning Him, the Son of Man, will be accomplished. What things He means He specifies in the following verse.

32. “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.

The Lord reveals that He will be delivered to the nations. The Greek word is a form of ethnos, which means “nations” and not “Gentiles.” By nations, He was referring to those in the land who were not Israelites, in this case the Roman officials. He does not say here who it is who will deliver Him, but we can know whom he meant by comparing this with His statement in Luke 9:22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” The elders and chief priests and scribes were the ones who would thus deliver him to the nations.

The Lord further reveals that these nations will mock Him, insult Him, and spit upon Him. We can follow these things out as they occur later in the book, exactly as He said they would.

33. “They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Finally, He reveals that these nations will scourge Him, and finally kill Him. Yet He does not end His revelation there. He assures them that, though they kill Him, yet on the third day He will rise again. Praise God, this too we can follow out in the following chapters. The Lord would have the final victory!

By these words, Christ predicts His death to the twelve for the final time here in Luke. Each time He predicted His death He gave more details. This time the new details are those in verse 32, that He will be delivered to the Gentiles and be mocked and scourged and spit upon.

34. But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.

Considering how exactly the Lord predicted everything that would happen to Him, stating these things openly and plainly to the disciples, we have trouble believing how by surprise these things caught them. Even His resurrection should not have been unexpected to them, for He told them plainly and simply that this would happen. Yet we read here that they understood none of these things. Considering that every word Christ spoke was a revelation from God, they may have had so many profound statements from Him that they overlooked such a simple and plain one, or thought He must mean something else. Perhaps the thought of Him dying was too painful for them to grasp, and so they could not continue to hear Him and consider what He further said about His rising again. At any rate, for whatever reason, they did not understand. We could condemn them, yet how many times do we ourselves fail to (or refuse to) understand even the plainest and most obvious statements of Scripture? We should not be too quick to condemn these men for their lack of faith.

Many take statements like this about the disciples not understanding and spread them out to all that Christ taught them. They assume that the disciples were a simple and befuddled lot who rarely if ever understood a word of what their Lord was saying. Yet notice that it is declared here that the reason they did not understand was because it was hidden from them. If any deny that this was the reason, they are as guilty of refusing to hear a simple statement of Scripture as these disciples were!

The disciples were average men, and yet they were learning from the greatest Teacher Who ever lived, and we cannot imagine that there was anything He could not teach them in a way they could understand it if He wished them to. When Christ was trying to make His disciples understand, He was always successful! Yet in this case it was God’s will that they not understand until later, and for this reason they did not understand.

35. Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.

The Lord has now almost completed His journey to Jerusalem, and is drawing near Jericho on the road to Jerusalem. A certain blind man sits by this road begging. This was not at all unusual at that time, for with the kind of health care they had and the many things that could cause blindness in that day, it is likely that a relatively large percentage of the people in that society were blind.

Although many assume that this blind man was the same as Bartimaeus in the story in Mark 10:46-52, and also somehow the same as the two blind men of Matthew 20:29-34, yet I believe that he was not, and that this was a different healing altogether. The details given are different in this gospel than in either of the other two, and point to a different miracle that is recorded only in this gospel. Was there only one blind man in all of Jericho? Or was Christ’s power so small that He only could have healed one blind man per day? Is this what we are saying when we claim that all three of these accounts, in spite of their differences, are the same event? Or are we simply denying the inspiration of Scripture?

Notice that this miracle occurs as Jesus is approaching Jericho, whereas both the Matthew and Mark healings are recorded as occurring as He was leaving the city. Also, notice that this man is begging. Bartimaeus was as well, as we read in Mark 10:46. However, the two other blind men were not said to be begging, but merely sitting by the road, as we read in Matthew 20:30.

36. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.

This blind man hears a multitude passing by. No doubt he was used to people passing along the road by him. If it was not a well-traveled road he would not have been begging there. Yet he recognized that this was a far bigger group than any you would usually have pass by on a day. So he knows something different is going on, and asks what this multitude means. He probably called this question out, hoping one of the passers-by would stop and answer him.

37. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.

Some in the crowd respond to the blind man’s question by letting him know that the reason for the multitude is that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. He was usually surrounded by a great throng of people, a sign of His great popularity. We see no indication here of the popular rejection that most imagine He suffered. The common people as a whole loved and flocked to the Lord. The great crowds that always were following with Him are just one indication of this fact.

Notice that no such question and answer as this was recorded of either the blind men in Matthew or of Bartimaeus in Mark. We read merely that they heard that the Lord Jesus was coming, probably from overhearing the conversations of those around them. This blind man did not hear, however. Perhaps he was sitting more off by himself than the others were. At any rate, he had to ask.

38. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When the blind man hears this, he immediately begins to cry out this plea. This cry is the same as that uttered by Bartimaeus in Mark 10:47. The blind men in Matthew 20:30 give a different cry, yet its content is similar, and they too called Him “Son of David.” Does this point to this being the same miracle? It could, but remember that entering Jericho and exiting it are two different things. It will help us to understand this similarity in what the different blind men called if we realize that this was not the first time the Lord healed a blind man. We read of a previous healing in Matthew 9:27-31.

27. When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”
28. And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
29. Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” 30. And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it.” 31. But when they had departed, they spread the news about Him in all that country.

Here, we read a story of two blind men being healed at once. These blind men are healed after crying to the Lord, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” Not only so, but they disobey a command to tell no one what has happened, and instead spread the news about Him in all that country.

No doubt the stories of the Lord Jesus’ healings of the sick were widely circulated, and none so much as this one with these two men so eagerly repeating it to whoever would listen. It could well have been that there was hardly a blind man in Israel who had not heard this story of the Lord’s healing. Imagine yourself in the place of one of these blind men. Could it be that you would not have thought what you would do, oh, if Christ only would come to your town? Could it be that you would not have rehearsed to yourself a thousand times what you would say to Him, and thought as many times of what life could be like if only you had your sight back again? Thus it should not at all surprise us that all these blind men had determined that, were the Lord to arrive in Jericho, they would cry out to Him after the same words that they heard the two blind men used in the popular story. This is as natural and as human a thing as could be imagined. The difficulty is only in the minds of the critics.

39. Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The Lord Jesus has apparently not yet arrived when he takes up this cry, as those who urge him to be quiet are called “those who went before.” In Matthew and Mark the blind men heard less in advance of His arrival, and those who tried to quiet them are called “the multitude” and “many,” respectively. It seems that these people in the crowd didn’t learn that the Lord didn’t want these blind men shushed, no matter how many times Christ performed the same miracle!

The man continues his cry all the more for the crowd’s interference. No doubt he was desperate lest their interference drown out his cries and the Lord pass by without hearing him. Notice this man’s persistence, so similar to that which the Lord Jesus Himself had commended in the parable at the beginning of the chapter!

40. So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,

The Lord does not pass by, however. He did not need to hear the man’s cries to know what was happening. Christ was probably still some way off from the man, as He commands him to be brought to Him. This was also the case with Bartimaeus, whom He commanded to be called in Mark 10:49. Yet in Matthew 20:32 He must have been stopped closer to the two blind men, for there He called them Himself.

Now the man draws near, and the Lord begins to interact with him.

41. Saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

The Lord asks the man what he wants Him to do for him? This was a good question. When we cry out to the Lord, it is good if we know what we want. It would not be good if He asked us such a question, and we were not ready to answer. Yet this man knows just what he wants. He wants to receive his sight. We need this as well, for though we may not by physically blind, as this man was, yet all of us need the eyes only the Lord can give to see the truth as it is contained in His Word.

The Lord Jesus asks the same question in all three gospels, yet this is to be expected as He was the same Man responding to three similar conditions, and on the same day. Yet notice the differences in how the blind men responded. Bartimaeus, though he gave the same answer as this blind man, called the Lord “Rabboni” rather than “Lord,” as the blind man did here. (Mark 10:51) The two blind men in Matthew used the name “Lord,” but they phrased their answer differently, requesting that “our eyes may be opened.”  (Matthew 20:33)

42. Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

The Lord gives the man what he wanted. Then, He assures him that it is his faith that has made him well. How did he show faith? First of all, he would not have called out to the Lord Jesus if he did not believe He were able to heal him. He would not have called Him “Son of David” if he did not believe that He was the promised Messiah. Moreover, as an Israelite, he knew that had the right to call upon the Son of David for help. All these things resulted in faith on the part of the blind man when he cried to the Lord Jesus for healing. And the Lord honored that faith, and granted his request.

Here, Christ commands him to receive his sight. Yet in Mark 10:52, He commanded him rather to “go your way,” because his faith had made him whole.  And in Matthew 20:34, the Lord said nothing at all, instead touching the eyes of the two blind men to give them their sight. Again, if we focus on the differences rather than the similarities, we will see that they point to different blind men and different healings, all taking place around the same city and on the same day.

43. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

The blind man receives his sight immediately upon the Lord’s word and, giving glory to God, follows Jesus Christ down the road. Upon seeing this, the people give praise to God as well. What a wonderful thing when the mighty works of God cause such spontaneous praise to erupt from His followers! It is good indeed to praise the Lord for His power displayed in such acts of mercy and grace.

Yet notice that the two healings in Matthew and Mark both follow this event, and if we will examine their records, neither one appear to have elicited the response of praise from the people that this one did. This makes sense, for this was the first miracle of healing a blind man they had seen this day, as it took place as they were entering Jericho. The other two healings, taking place as they exited Jericho, were later in the day, and no longer unique. How quickly even the mighty works of God can fade into the realm of the expected and even the ordinary once they are repeated! Our human minds soon lose focus even on the mighty works of God. How weak we are, and how foolish! Praise God that He graciously deals with us in spite of our fickleness.