The journey's fourth and final miracle (the previous ones come in 13:10-17; 14:1-6; 17:11-19) involves a blind man who sees spiritual reality very clearly. The blind man is one of two examples of faith who shine at the end of the journey; Zacchaeus is the other. The blind man's humble appeal echoes the humility of the tax collector and the child of faith earlier in chapter 18. He contrasts strongly with the rich ruler, who had everything and saw nothing. The blind man has nothing but sees well. So this passage brings together many themes of the section. Thus the miracle is climactic.
If there were any question about Jesus' continued availability to heal, this miracle ends it. Jesus was always ready to serve. A poor, blind beggar cries out to Jesus as Son of David to have mercy on him. The crowd rebukes him, seeing the request as annoying and perhaps seeing him as unworthy. But a second time he cries out, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" The request is a recognition that Jesus, as the promised regal Son of David, has saving power. This title's juxtaposition to the title "Jesus of Nazareth" forms an answering echo to 4:16-30 and 7:22-23. There Jesus proclaimed himself the fulfillment of promise, but because of his heritage the synagogue crowd in chapter 4 did not want to accept him. The blind man has no such reservations. He knows opportunity is present. Possibly the underlying Jewish tradition is that the Son of David, as exemplified by Solomon, was seen as full of wisdom and thus had power to overcome Satan (Strack and Billerbeck 1926:4:533-34; Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-21; Pseudo-Philo 60:1; Josephus Antiquities 8.2.4-5 41-49; Duling 1975:235-52). The expectation was that the end time would be a period of healing and restoration (Lk 7:22-23). So as the blind man calls for Jesus he reveals the extent and clarity of his spiritual vision. With boldness he continues to call for Jesus despite others' attempts to hush him.
Jesus stops and asks that the man be brought to him. When he asks what the man wants, he requests his sight. Jesus gives him what he asks for and explains the secret of the man's success: "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." The Greek uses the verb "to save" (sozo) to refer to the healing. The double entendre is intended. Faith is key, as in other texts (7:50; 8:48; 17:19). By commending the man's faith, which had demonstrated itself in his persistence, Jesus points to a lesson for all in the man's attitude. In addition, the healing shows the appropriateness of the title the blind man used to get Jesus' attention. It is the Son of David who heals. Messiah draws near to Jerusalem, and his authority is at work.
Healing comes immediately, and the man follows Jesus, praising God (on immediate healing, 4:39; 5:25; 8:44, 47, 55; 13:13; glory to God, 2:20; 4:15; 5:25-26; 7:16; 13:13; 17:15). The picture is poignant. God is thanked for his work through Jesus. Having gained physical sight, the man finds that new light dawns as he focuses on following Jesus. Even the crowd is changed. Scoffers at the start, the people turn to praise God in the end. Seeing Jesus means being transformed.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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