Luke 18: 35-43
Here Luke has the story of a blind beggar being healed. Matthew 20:29 has the same incident as two men being healed, and Mark 10: 46 has the blind man named Bartemaeus, in these two gospels they have Jesus leaving Jericho, while Luke describes it as Jesus entering Jericho. The verb Luke chose to use is ‘engizo’ and it can be translated ‘approach’ or ‘in the vicinity.’
In Luke Jesus was coming to Jericho on the way to Jerusalem, in the view of time, Jesus is approaching Jerusalem for His crucifixion, His teaching ministry is coming to an end. A crowd is gathering, a large crowd, which would be expected for this remarkable, young, rabbi has come to their village. Everyone has heard of Jesus, He can heal, He can forgive sins, He can even raise the dead, He might be the Promised One, and He is coming to visit us in Jericho. Culturally it would be common for the village to prepare a feast for this ‘dignitary’, this special visitor. (Kenneth Bailey has pointed out that the crowds run out to meet Jesus and escort Him into their village as an act of honor.)
Everyone is excited, then there is the blind man, whose ‘job’ is to provide an opportunity for the community to show mercy. The Law, in the explanation for Tithing, requires generosity, aiding the stranger, providing for the needy, and showing mercy, in addition to their tithe. So the common cry of the beggars was, ‘show mercy.’ The blind man hears the crowd, and asks what’s going on, they tell him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ is passing by. So taking the opportunity, the blind man calls out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.’ This Messianic title, seldom used, Jesus used to confound the Pharisees in Luke 20:41, and now this uneducated man calls out for Jesus, calling Him ‘Son of David’. The men in the crowd are annoyed, and embarrassed by this guy, they are putting out their best for Jesus, not their dirty laundry, so they tell him to ‘shut up’. But he cries out all the more.
Jesus stops, amidst all the commotion, all the praise given Him, all the joyful shouting, He hears the cry of this man, this one voice, and orders the man to be brought to Him. Embarrassed, the men guide the blind man to Jesus. Jesus then questions the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” The choices might be ‘do you want money, a coin,’ or ‘do you want healing, knowing that your life will now be dramatically changed. You must no longer beg for existence, no one will give you anything, you have to learn a trade, you have to work, to provide for yourself.’ The man then says, “Lord” which indicates he understood the title he had called out earlier, ‘Son of David,’ and the ‘cry for mercy’ was not for a coin. Without hesitation he says “Lord, I want to regain my sight.” Jesus says then, “Receive your sight; Your faith has made you well.” The blind man immediately regained his sight and began following Jesus, in the fulness of the sense, and glorifying YHVH. When the people saw the transformation, they gave praise to YHVH also.
The Blind man, with acute hearing, had taken in all that had been said about Jesus in the preceding weeks and months, and had ‘seen’ Jesus for who He was, not a visiting dignitary but the promised Messiah, and when the opportunity arose, he seized it, and did not let his day of visitation escape. He cried with a loud voice, “Do not pass me by, Son of David, Messiah, Master, hear my plea.”
And Jesus did hear him, and answered his call of faith.