Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 32: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52;
29. And while they were departing from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30. And, lo, two blind men sitting near the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried aloud, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 31. And the multitude rebuked them, that they might be silent; but they cried out the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. 32. And Jesus stood, and called them, and said, What do you wish that I should do to you? 33. They say to him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. 34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
46. And they come to Jericho: and while they was departing from the city Jericho, and his disciples, and a great multitude, Bartimeus, son of Timeus, a blind man, was sitting hear the road begging. 47. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry aloud, and to say, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 48. And many rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. 49. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying to him, Be of good courage, rise; he calleth thee. 50. And he, throwing away his mantle, arose, and came to Jesus. 51. And Jesus answering, saith to him, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And the blind man said to him, Master, 668 that I may receive sight. 52 And Jesus said to him, Go away; thy faith hath cured thee. And immediately he received sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
35. And it happened that, while he was approaching Jericho, a certain blind man was sitting near the road begging: 36. And when he heard a multitude passing by, he asked what it was. 37. And they said to him, that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38. And he cried out, saying, Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me. 39. And they that were going before rebuked him, that he might be silent: but he cried out so much the more, Son of David, have mercy on me. 40. And Jesus, standing still, commanded him to be brought to him: and while he was approaching, he asked him, 41. Saying, What dost thou wish that I should do to thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive sight. 42. Then Jesus said to him, Receive sight: thy faith hath cured thee. 43. And immediately he received sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Matthew 20:29. And while they were departing from Jericho. Osiander has resolved to display his ingenuity by making four blind men out of one. But nothing can be more frivolous than this supposition. Having observed that the Evangelists differ in a few expressions, he imagined that one blind man received sight when they were entering into the city, and that the second, and other two, received sight when Christ was departing from it. But all the circumstances agree so completely, that no person of sound judgment will believe them to be different narratives. Not to mention other matters, when Christ’s followers had endeavored to put the first to silence, and saw him cured contrary to their expectation, would they immediately have made the same attempt with the other three? But it is unnecessary to go into particulars, from which any man may easily infer that it is one and the same event which is related.
But there is a puzzling contradiction in this respect, that Matthew and Mark say that the miracle was performed on one or on two blind men, when Christ had already departed from the city; while Luke relates that it was done before he came to the city. Besides, Mark and Luke speak of not more than one blind man, while Matthew mentions two. But as we know that it frequently occurs in the Evangelists, that in the same narrative one passes by what is mentioned by the others, and, on the other hand, states more clearly what they have omitted, it ought not to be looked upon as strange or unusual in the present passage. My conjecture is, that, while Christ was approaching to the city, the blind man cried out, but that, as he was not heard on account of the noise, he placed himself in the way, as they were departing from the city, 669 and then was at length called by Christ. And so Luke, commencing with what was true, does not follow out the whole narrative, but passes over Christ’s stay in the city; while the other Evangelists attend only to the time which was nearer to the miracle. There is probability in the conjecture that, as Christ frequently, when he wished to try the faith of men, delayed for a short time to relieve them, so he subjected this blind man to the same scrutiny.
The second difficulty may be speedily removed; for we have seen, on a former occasion, that Mark and Luke speak of one demoniac as having been cured, while Matthew, as in the present instance, mentions two, (Mt 8:28; Mr 5:2; Lu 8:27 670 ) And yet this involves no contradiction between them; but it may rather be conjectured with probability, that at first one blind man implored the favor of Christ, and that another was excited by his example, and that in this way two persons received sight Mark and Luke speak of one only, either because he was better known, or because in him the demonstration of Christ’s power was not less remarkable than it was in both. It certainly appears to have been on account of his having been extensively known that he was selected by Mark, who gives both his own name and that of his father: Bartimeus, son of Timeus By doing so, he does not claim for him either illustrious descent or wealth; for he was a beggar of the lowest class. Hence it appears that the miracle was more remarkable in his person, because his calamity had been generally known. This appears to me to be the reason why Mark and Luke mention him only, and say nothing about the other, who was a sort of inferior appendage. But Matthew, who was an eye-witness, 671 did not choose to pass by even this person, though less known.
30. Have mercy on me, O Lord. I stated, a little ago, that there was at first but one who cried out, but the other was induced by a similar necessity to join him. They confer on Christ no ordinary honor, when they request him to have mercy, and relieve them; for they must have been convinced that he had in his power the assistance or remedy which they needed. But their faith is still more clearly exhibited by their acknowledgment of him as Messiah, to whom we know that the Jews gave this designation, Son of David They therefore apply to Christ, not only as some Prophet, but as that person whom God had promised to be the only Author of salvation. The cry proved the ardor of the desire; for, though they knew that what they said exposed them to the hatred of many, who were highly displeased with the honor done to Christ, their fear was overcome by the ardor of desire, so that they did not refrain, on this account, from raising their voice aloud.
31. And the multitude reproved them. It is surprising that the disciples of Christ, who follow him through a sense of duty and of respect, should wish to drive wretched men from the favor of Christ, and, so far as lies in them, to prevent the exercise of his power. But it frequently happens that the greater part of those who profess the name of Christ, instead of inviting us to him, rather hinder or delay our approach. If Satan endeavored to throw obstacles in the way of two blind men, by means of pious and simple persons, who were induced by some sentiments of religion to follow Christ, how much more will he succeed in accomplishing it by means of hypocrites and traitors, if we be not strictly on our guard. Perseverance is therefore necessary to overcome every difficulty, and the more numerous the obstacles are which Satan throws in the way, the more powerfully ought we to be excited to earnestness in prayer, as we see that the blind men redoubled their cry
32. What do you wish that I should do to you? He gently and kindly asks what they desire; for he had determined to grant their requests. There is no reason to doubt that they prayed by a special movement of the Holy Spirit; for, as the Lord does not intend to grant to all persons deliverance from bodily diseases, so neither does he permit them simply to pray for it. A rule has been prescribed for us what we ought to ask, and in what manner, and to what extent; and we are not at liberty to depart from that rule, unless the Lord, by a secret movement of the Spirit, suggest to us some special prayer, which rarely happens. Christ puts the question to them, not for their sake as individuals, but for the sake of all the people; for we know how the world swallows God’s benefits without perceiving them, unless they are stimulated and aroused. Christ, therefore, by his voice, awakens the assembled crowd to observe the miracle, as he awakens them shortly afterwards by a visible sign, when he opens their eyes by touching them.
34. And Jesus, moved with compassion, etc. Σπλαγχνισθείς, moved with compassion, is not the participle of the same verb which Matthew had just now employed in reference to the blind man, ἐλέησον, have mercy 672 They implored the mercy of Christ, that he might relieve their wretchedness; but now the Evangelist expresses that Christ was induced to cure them, not only by undeserved goodness, but because he pitied their distress. For the metaphor is taken from the bowels, (σπλάγχνα,) in which dwells that kindness and mutual compassion which prompts us to assist our neighbors.
Mark 10:52. Thy faith hath saved thee By the word faith is meant not only a confident hope of recovering sight, but a loftier conviction, which was, that this blind man had acknowledged Jesus to be the Messiah whom God had promised. Nor must we imagine that it was only some confused knowledge; for we have already seen that this confession was taken from the Law and the Prophets. For the blind man did not at random bestow on Christ the name of Son of David, but embraced him as that person whose coming he had been taught by the divine predictions to expect. Now Christ attributes it to faith that the blind man received sight; for, though the power and grace of God sometimes extend even to unbelievers, yet no man enjoys His benefits in a right and profitable manner, unless he receive them by faith; nay, the use of the gifts of God is so far from being advantageous to unbelievers, that it is even hurtful. And therefore, when Christ says, thy faith hath saved thee, the word saved is not limited to an outward cure, but includes also the health and safety of the soul; as if Christ had said, that by faith the blind man obtained that God was gracious to him, and granted his wish. And if it was in regard to faith that God bestowed his favor on the blind man, it follows that he was justified by faith
Matthew 20:34. And followed him. This was an expression of gratitude, 673 when the blind men became followers of Christ; for, though it is uncertain how long they discharged this duty, yet it showed a grateful mind, that they presented themselves to many, in that journey, as mirrors of the grace of Christ. Luke adds, that the people gave praise to God, which tends to prove the certainty of the miracle.
“Rabboni;” — “Maistre.”
“Mais pource qu’il ne peut estre ouy a cause du bruit du peuple, qu’il s’en alla, l’autre porte de la ville par laquelle Christ devoit sortir, pour l’attendre la au chemin;” — “but, because he could not be heard on account of the noise of the people, that he went away to the other gate by which Christ was to go out, to wait for him there on the road.”
See Harmony, vol. 1 p. 428.
“Qui avoit este present au miracle;” — “who had been present at the miracle.”
“Quand ils disoyent, Fils de David, aye misericorde de nous;” — “when they said, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
“Ceci a este un signe de recognoissance du bien receu de Christ;” — “this was an expression of gratitude for the favor received from Christ.”