The next incident shows the humble servant heart of Jesus at a time of great stress and public stir.
I. The Crowd (29, 31)
Jericho was one day’s journey from Jerusalem which was Christ’s destination (next passage—triumphal entry). It was a warm, tropical climate compared to Jerusalem—Josephus says people could be wearing linen in Jericho when there was snow in Jerusalem.
A great crowd followed—popular interest in Jesus, as will be displayed at the triumphal entry; a mixed multitude—some true believers among them; many if not most with a mistaken understanding of the Messiah’s mission at this point in history
Even the 12 (and their parents—mother of James and John) were obsessed with who would be the greatest in His kingdom—despite His talking about going to Jerusalem to be arrested, condemned to death, mocked, flogged, crucified, raised again.
The crowd rebuked the blind men and told them to be silent. They were a public nuisance, interruption—marginal persons interfering with hearing Jesus and slowing down progress of the journey.
The crowd is often not concerned with the needs of broken people and finds them inconvenient and irritating. The crowd may be part of Jesus’ group of followers, but they are not representative of Jesus’ character and concern.
It is easy for us to be enamored with power, popularity, and apparent success while ignoring the inconvenient opportunities to serve the needs of broken people.
II. The Crying (30-31)
Behold—attention, look—an immediate “you are there” style of telling the account
Mark and Luke refer to only one blind man, evidently the more prominent of the two named Bartimaeus who was possibly named because known as a member of the first-century church.
They were sitting by the roadside—probably begging for their living—or were they there in hopes of meeting Jesus? Put yourself where God is at work (Ryle).
When they heard Jesus was passing by—not much to go on compared to what many people had been able to experience, but they acted on what they had. They cried out to be heard above the noise of the surging crowd—what hope did they have that they could get to Jesus?
Notice their words—full of great faith in the Person and power of Jesus:
Lord—Master, at least; given what they were asking, possible acknowledgement of Jesus’ deity. No record of anyone but Jesus ever healing blind people--perhaps they had heard that He had cured two blind men in Galilee early in his ministry (Matthew 9)—or more likely, they had heard of His healing the man born blind in Jerusalem 6 months earlier. These men address Him as the Galilean blind men did—Son of David. Son of David—you are the Messiah! The Anointed One, the Savior who will rule an everlasting kingdom of His saints
They were blind, but they knew something of what God’s Word taught and that what they had heard about Jesus matched what the OT prophesied about the Messiah.
Have mercy on us!—no personal claim on Jesus for what they are asking. They were entirely at His mercy, not asking for what they deserve. They had no doubt that Jesus had the power to give them sight—their prayer was that He was willing to show them such mercy. Their cries were persistent despite the crowd telling them to be quiet. “Refused to be bludgeoned into silence by the indifferent crowd.” ~Bruce
If we ever desire to be saved, we must care more about salvation than whatever opposition or difficulty stands in the way. People who don’t understand Jesus will find our zeal disruptive.
III. The Christ (32-34)
Jesus reacts to these blind men in a manner entirely different from the crowd. He stops and takes time for the needs of individuals, not just the crowd. He called them—the way Jesus works in every one He saves—singles us out, calls our name, calls us to Himself. He asks them questions and finds out their requests. Which were impossible but for their faith in Who Jesus is (Isaiah 35:3-6, 10).
He was moved with compassion—so much so that He felt it physically. We would say that our hearts were moved with compassion; our emotions and spirit affect our bodies.
He touched their eyes—sometimes healed with a word even at a distance, but often healed with the gentle touch conveying personal closeness and concern.
IV. The Cure (34)
There was an immediate recovery—clearly a miracle with no naturalistic explanation. They followed him—interested not just in their sight, but in Him. They would likely be among those with Jesus when He entered Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to start the Passion Week.
Have you been cured by Jesus?
Cured of your spiritual blindness and deadness, your bondage to sin?
Then follow Him—Who He is makes possible your cure and makes reasonable your submission to wherever He leads you.
These blind men in their blindness saw more clearly who Jesus is than most seeing people. The week after they were given their sight, the religious and civil leaders saw to it that Jesus was crucified. Reminded me of another blind man healed and seeing men who remained blind (John 9:24-41).