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Bible Gem 1125 - Jesus Stops for Bartimaeus, the piece of filth (Luke 18:35-43)

July 10, 2019

 

As Jesus approached Jerichoa blind beggar was sitting beside the road.

When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening.

They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by.

So he began shouting, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"Be quiet! "the people in front yelled at him.But he only shouted louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

When Jesus heard him, He stopped and ordered that the man be brought to Him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him,

"What do you want Me to do for you?" "Lord," he said, "I want to see!"

And Jesus said, "All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you."

Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.(Luke 18:35-43) 

 

 

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and His disciples left town, a large crowd followed Him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road.

When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"

"Be quiet!" many of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"

When Jesus heard him, He stopped and said,"Tell him to come here. "So they called the blind man. "Cheer up," they said. "Come on, He's calling you!"

Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

"What do you want Me to do for you?" Jesus asked. "My rabbi," the blind man said, "I want to see!"

And Jesus said to him, "Go, for your faith has healed you." Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10:46-52)

 

As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind.

Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

"Be quiet!" the crowd yelled at them. But they only shouted louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

When Jesus heard them, He stopped and called, "What do you want Me to do for you?"

"Lord" they said, "we want to see!"

Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed Him. (Matt 20:29-34)

 

Shared

Uniquely Matthew

Uniquely Mark

Uniquely Luke

  

 

I am not sure what conclusions you came to on the matter of whether Jesus was coming or going or whether there were one, two or three blind men. I will let you grapple with that for a while longer and take the time to point out the specific additions Luke made to this story. I will return to the matters of coming and going and how many blind men there were at the end of our analysis. 

 

Let's begin with looking at the additional detail Luke has added to the story.

As Jesus approached

When he [Bartimaeus] heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening.

They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by.

"Be quiet!the people in front yelled at him.

and ordered that the man be brought to Him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him,

 "All right, receive your sight! 

 praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

 

I will leave the praise to God for the end of the analysis, but for now I want to look at the scene that Luke creates with these changes.

 

The first change Luke makes to the story of Bartimaeus is in the direction of flow of the action. Luke deliberately writes, "As Jesus approached Jericho." It is not as though Luke doesn’t know Mark's account. It is clear that Luke uses Mark's gospel as his base of comparison. It is not so clear whether he knows Matthew's account or not, but it is likely. If it is not Matthew's account he is using, then it is the oral tradition upon which Matthew's account is based. Therefore we must conclude Luke has made an intentional change. He knows what he is doing; we have to work out why. I draw your attention to the curious way Mark puts the introduction to this story -"Then they reachedJericho, and as Jesus and His disciples left town, a large crowd followed Him." There is the curious juxtaposition of "Then they reached Jericho" added to "and as Jesus and his disciples left town a large crowd followed him." What? It makes it seems as though no action took place in the town at all? We know that is not true because the Zaccheus story is also based in Jericho. According to Mark, either Jesus came to town, nothing happened and then He left or he arrived at the town, the crowd already following was joined by the crowd waiting in Jericho, and together they moved off to somewhere else. Curious also that there are two sites to the town of Jericho, as we saw in Gem 1124. (Point 5 and 6). Matthew, on the other hand, edits Mark's down to, "As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind." There is no hint of nothing else happening in between as there is in what Mark wrote. Luke however, takes the known details of the story and changes them to "As Jesus approached Jericho . . . " Let it percolate a while longer. There are many Bible difficulties that you will not solve quickly. Like wine, it needs to mature. Keep pondering it. 

 

Luke doesn’t mention the man's name. That too is curious. Luke clearly knows it. Luke has told us:

 

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us.

They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.

Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus,

so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.(Luke 1:1-4)

 

He has Mark's account and Mark clearly names Bartimaeus. Luke however leaves his name out. Why?

Could it be because of the meaning of his name? Bartimaeus can mean "son of filth'. Has Luke deliberately left it out because of its meaning? 

 

Luke then creates the picture of the interaction between Bartimaeus and the crowd going passed. It is clear from Luke's additions that Bartimaeus is in his place by the side of the road. Likely as not, he is usually in the same place each day. That is how it works with the beggars here in Jakarta. It is the same all over Asia and the Middle East. Each have their own place and beg from that place. Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road in his usual place (with a name meaning "son of filth"). He can't see what is going on but he knows it is something out of the ordinary. It is most likely that he is sitting beside the entry gate to Jericho or on the main road into the area. All traffic must pass by him. The text records Jesus was passing by. His opportunity would be gone. Luke highlights this in his account. It is one of his additions. The people at the front of the crowd respond to his cry, telling him Jesus the Nazarene is going by. He calls out all the more and asks Jesus, Son of David to have mercy on him. Wow interesting. 

 

Bartimaeus must have known something about Jesus. The question is how? Well, one likely way was via the crowds who had been following Him since Galilee and telling stories of all they had seen. Having no sight, a blind man's ears are more sensitive. His ear would have been tuned to the topics of conversations around him. We don't know for sure, but it is also possible that this man was told more by the people in the crowd than what Luke has told us here. They may well have told him directly that they suspected this was the Messiah, the Son of David. You already know the background to Messiah, the Son of David, because I have told you a number of times. Or they may have told him what Jesus had been doing and Bartimaeus has concluded himself that this is the Messiah come to rule. 

 

Next, Luke tells us that Jesus heard him and ordered that the man be brought to Him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him. . . something – which we will add to what we look at tomorrow. For now, I want to focus on the fact that Jesus ordered the man brought to Him. That is interesting in itself. We need to understand this from the point of [Middle] Eastern culture of escorting important people. When an important official is coming to a rural village, the villagers walk with them to give the person honour and bring them into the village. Hundreds will turn out to escort them to the village. It is likely that in the crowd following Jesus, are those who have been following since Galilee, as well as those who have come out from Jericho to welcome Him. The ones at the front are likely to be the locals. There, sitting beside the side of the road is the blind man that everyone calls "son of filth" - blind Bartimaeus. 

 

As Bartimaeus calls out, "Jesus, Son of David" those at the front of the crowd tell him to "shut up". Why did they tell him to shut up? 

1. Perhaps they were in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the Passover and didn’t want Jesus stopping here and wasting time, especially on a blind beggar. 

2. Or they didn't like the idea of a blind beggar yelling out to the Son of David. It wasn't appropriate for someone as important as Jesus.

3. They didn’t want this blind beggar addressing Him as Son of David, the Messianic term, because they were not all in agreement that was who He was. 

4. They didn’t want this blind beggar addressing Him as Messiah because they knew the religious leaders would not be pleased. It was a dangerous title the closer they got to Jerusalem. 

5. Jesus was teaching while on the way and they didn’t want this blind beggar to interrupt what He was telling them. 

 

They tell him Jesus is passing by. Inference: "He won't be stopping for you, you piece of filth". They tell him to "shut up". The word is [siopao] which is strong language for telling him to shut his mouth. Whereupon Bartimaeus cries louder. Jesus stops!! Oh, I thought He wouldn't be stopping! But He has. Then what does He do? He orders them to bring Bartimaeus to Him. Wow, that's an ironic twist. These ones who have gone out to escort Jesus into the village from Jericho are having to escort Bartimaeus to Jesus. They are playing the role of the escort taking someone honoured to meet someone more honoured. How that must have gone against the grain. 

 

That is enough for today. Let those pieces sink in and I will address the other matters tomorrow. I try to keep these Gemz manageable so they are not too long, but I don't always succeed. 

 

 

We’re not aiming to please & work our way up; we’re aiming to serve & work our way down. Bob Goff

 

Any time you belittle someone, you're the one who shrinks. Rick Warren

 

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.  William Arthur Ward

 

It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.  W.C. Fields

 

 

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