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God’s Word for You

Luke 18:35-39 Son of David

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 20, 2018

Blind Bartimaeus

35 As Jesus approached Jericho,

Matthew says that Jesus was “leaving Jericho” (Καὶ ἐκπορευομένων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ ᾽Ιεριχὼ, Matthew 20:29). Mark also says that Jesus was “leaving the city” (ἐκπορευομένoυ, Mark 10:46), but Luke says that Jesus was approaching. Is Luke in error? Was Jesus leaving the city, or entering? Were there two different beggars, one at the approach to Jericho and one at the city exit?

Jericho was destroyed and burned by Joshua after God caused the walls of the city to collapse in about 1405 BC (Joshua 6:20-24). It was rebuilt in the second quarter of the Ninth Century BC by a man named Hiel of Bethel (1 Kings 16:34), and after the Babylonian exile it remained a small town, with just 345 adult males reported in the census (Ezra 2:34; Nehemiah 7:36). That city or village (let’s call it Jericho II) limped along for a few hundred years, but then Herod the Great built an entirely new and improved Jericho (Jericho III) a little to the south of Jericho II. By the time of Jesus, Jericho II was almost entirely abandoned. It seems likely that Luke is talking about Jesus approaching “new” Jericho (Jericho III), whereas Matthew and Mark are talking about Jesus leaving Jericho II. It’s unlikely that Luke would be talking about any city other than the newest one, Jericho III, since Theophilus, the man to whom he was writing, would only have heard about the newest city. Therefore, all three Gospels are describing the same incident, but told from two different points of view.

a blind man was sitting by the road, begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, 38 and he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who were at the front of the crowd scolded him and told him to be quiet. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Somewhere between the two Jerichos, two blind men (Matthew says there were two, Matthew 20:30) were sitting and begging. Mark (Mark 10:46) tells us that one of them was named Bartimaeus. Luke simply describes the one man’s faith. He had already heard of Jesus, and as soon as he heard that Jesus was nearby, he began calling out in a loud voice. His calling was so loud and imposing that some of the people in the front told him to be quiet. But he didn’t care about them. He cared about calling to Jesus, and he called “all the more” for Jesus to have mercy on him.

He called Jesus the Son of David. This is one of the titles given to Jesus by the angel at Jesus’ birth, when he said, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). The blind man knew Jesus’ reputation for mercy, but more importantly he had heard that Jesus was the promised Son of David, the one who would truly have mercy on all people by taking away their sins. This is what the angel had said to Joseph when he explained Mary’s pregnancy to him: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Blind Bartimaeus wanted this forgiveness. He cried out for mercy, and he called and called: “Son of David! Have mercy on me!” The prayer, “Have mercy on me,” is not uncommon in the Old Testament (Psalm 51:1, 57:1, 86:3, 119:132), but we should especially note David in Psalm 41:4: “Have mercy on me, heal me, for I have sinned against you.” God’s mercy extends to every part of our lives. But we begin with our relationship with God directly, and that means an answer to our sins. We confess those sins, ask for his forgiveness, and ask for his help in turning away from them. He is compassionate and merciful, and he promises his forgiveness in Jesus—the Son of David.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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