Click here to join the effort!
I. Jesus’ teaching about His return 17:20-18:8
Again an action by the Pharisees led to a brief answer from Jesus followed by a longer explanation for the disciples (cf. Luke 15:1 to Luke 16:13; Luke 16:14 to Luke 17:19). Luke’s conclusion of Jesus’ teaching on this occasion included a parable (Luke 18:1-8).
The audience for this parable was the disciples (Luke 17:22). Luke identified Jesus’ reason for giving it clearly. He wanted to encourage them to continue praying and not to grow discouraged. The reference to "all times" or "always" (not continuously, but in all circumstances) indicates that the interval between Jesus’ present ministry and His future return is in view (Luke 17:22-37; cf. Luke 18:8). This was, then, instruction concerning what the disciples should do in the inter-advent period in view of Jesus’ second coming. When He returns, Jesus will balance the scales of justice. In the meantime disciples need to continue expressing their faith in God by requesting His grace.
"Jesus’ teaching goes beyond that of the Jews, who tended to limit the times of prayer lest they weary God. Three times a day (on the model of Daniel 6:10) was accepted as the maximum." [Note: Morris, p. 262.]
3. The parable of the persistent widow 18:1-8
Jesus continued His instruction to the disciples about His return. He told them a parable designed to encourage them to continue praying while they lived in the interval before His second coming. Luke mentioned widows more than all the other Gospel evangelists combined (Luke 2:37-38; Luke 4:25-26; Luke 7:11-17; Luke 18:1-8; Luke 20:45-47; Luke 21:1-4; cf. Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 16:9-15; Psalms 146:9; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 1:23; Jeremiah 7:6; Acts 6:1; 1 Timothy 5:3-10; James 1:27).
Jesus pictured this judge as failing to do what the Mosaic Law required of Israel’s judges. In the Old Testament fear of God was primarily fear of Him as judge. This judge was a man of the world (cf. Luke 16:8). Luke’s Gentile readers undoubtedly knew of judges who were similar to him. [Note: Danker, p. 184.] Whether this judge was a Jewish or a Roman judge is unclear and irrelevant. In view of the access that the widow enjoyed to his presence he seems to have been a lower official rather than a judge in Israel’s supreme court. [Note: See J. D. M. Derrett, "Law in the New Testament: The Unjust Judge," New Testament Studies 18 (1971-72):178-91.] In first-century Palestine a single judge often handled the type of monetary case that this widow presented to this judge. [Note: Jeremias, The Parables . . ., p. 153.] Jesus contrasted God with him rather than comparing God to him (cf. Luke 11:5-8).
Widows were the personification of dependence, helplessness, and vulnerability in Israel (cf. Exodus 22:22-24; Psalms 68:5; Lamentations 1:1; James 1:27). This widow kept asking the judge repeatedly for protection from those who opposed her, not for their punishment. [Note: Plummer, p. 412.] In the parable she represents the disciples who were equally dependent on God for protection from the non-disciples who opposed them for their allegiance to Jesus.
The judge granted the widow’s petition solely because of her persistence. Jesus was not teaching that God takes the same attitude toward disciples that this judge took toward this widow. Again, the judge contrasts with God. His point was that persistence is effective with unjust judges. How much more will it be effective with the righteous Judge.
The phrase "wear me out" translates an idiom that literally means "strike under the eye" (Gr. hypopiaze me, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:27). We could translate this idiom "lest she give me a black eye." Figuratively a black eye represents a damaged reputation, shame. Consequently the judge apparently feared that by refusing to respond to the widow his reputation would suffer (cf. Luke 11:8). [Note: Derrett, "Law in . . .," p. 191.] He granted her request for selfish reasons.
Jesus proceeded to apply the parable for His disciples. Listening carefully to the judge’s words was important because only then could the disciples see that Jesus was teaching by contrast. God would never respond to a cry for help as this judge did. In view of His character disciples can count on Him giving them the protection they need. The term "elect" is a reminder that He has chosen those who call to Him (cf. Matthew 22:14; Mark 13:20; Mark 13:22; Mark 13:27). This is another reason He will respond to their call. The widow was a stranger to the unjust judge. Moreover Jesus said He would not delay to give the protection His disciples need.
Though God has allowed some disciples who call on Him for help during persecution to die, He nevertheless gives added grace to them (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). The justice He will provide speedily is protection from the attacks of spiritual opponents (Luke 18:3). It is justice because the disciple is suffering unjustly when he or she stands for Jesus and consequently experiences persecution.
"God longs to vindicate the saints, and he will do so. When he does, his justice will be swift and sure, and our suffering will seem short-lived compared to the glory to follow. In the meantime he protects us." [Note: Bock, Luke, p. 455.]
Jesus’ final question suggests that there will be comparatively few on the earth who have remained faithful and who believe that He will return (Luke 17:22 to Luke 18:1). [Note: See David A. Mappes, "What Is the Meaning of ’Faith’ in Luke 18:8?" Bibliotheca Sacra 167:667 (July-September 2010):292-306.] The Second Coming is in view, not the Rapture. The phrase "Son of Man" links this question with Jesus’ former teaching about His return (Luke 17:22; Luke 17:24; Luke 17:26; Luke 17:30). This is all the more reason disciples need to keep praying. Prayer not only secures God’s help during persecution, but it also demonstrates faith in God.
This parable then is an encouragement for disciples who experience opposition for their faith during the inter-advent age. We should continue to ask God for protection from those who oppose us for our commitment to Jesus Christ. God will respond speedily by giving us the help that we need. This will result in the continuing demonstration of faith in God when He is visibly absent from the world during this period. The parable is an exhortation to persevere in the faith rather than apostatizing (i.e., turning away from it). God will vindicate His elect at the Second Coming (cf. Psalms 125:2-3; Revelation 6:9-11). That will be His ultimate answer to these prayers of His people, but immediate help before that coming is primarily in view in this parable.
This verse sets the stage for the parable that follows (cf. Luke 18:1; Luke 19:11). "And" signals the continuation of immediately preceding lessons and themes for the reader. Obviously Pharisees are the people that Jesus was criticizing in this parable (Luke 18:10), but Luke introduced Jesus’ teaching by highlighting the characteristic about the Pharisees that Jesus addressed. This is a characteristic that many more people than the Pharisees possess, including many of Luke’s readers. The only alternative to believing in Jesus is trusting in one’s own righteousness for acceptance with God. This always results in elevating oneself at the expense of others and looking down on others.
1. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector 18:9-14
The superficial connection between this pericope and the preceding one is that they both contain parables about prayer.
"This parable follows as giving the spirit in which men should pray." [Note: Morris, p. 264.]
However the more significant link is the people of faith (Luke 18:8). This parable graphically contrasts those who reject Jesus’ gospel with those who receive it. Jesus drew a verbal picture to identify the characteristic traits of two representative groups of Jews. Both parables deal with righteousness: the unrighteous judge in the first one, and the self-righteous Pharisee in the second.
J. The recipients of salvation 18:9-19:27
Luke next developed the idea of faith on the earth that Jesus introduced in Luke 18:8. This whole section clarifies how people become believers. This subject is a fitting conclusion to the part of Luke’s Gospel that deals with Jesus’ ministry on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27). Essentially this section records Jesus’ teaching that salvation and eventual entrance into the kingdom come by God’s grace through faith rather than by claims to legal righteousness. The apostle Paul wrote about the process of justification (e.g., Romans 3:21 to Romans 5:21), but Luke’s concern was the recipients of it. [Note: Danker, p. 185.]
The Pharisees generally rejected Jesus and His gospel whereas the tax collectors responded positively (cf. Luke 5:12; Luke 5:27; Luke 7:34; Luke 7:37; Luke 15:1-2; Luke 16:20). They were at opposite ends of the social and spiritual scales in Judaism. The former were the epitome of righteousness and the latter of unrighteousness. The temple was the customary place of prayer. Since it stood on a hill in Jerusalem, people literally went up to it to pray.
Standing was a normal posture for prayer among the Jews of Jesus’ day. It did not in itself reflect the Pharisee’s pride (cf. Matthew 6:5). Even though the Pharisee addressed God in prayer, Jesus noted that he was really talking to himself and reviewing his own self-righteousness. He told God what a superior person he was, using the behavior of others as his standard. He took pride in his supposed superior status and the works that he did that separated him from others. The most pious Pharisees fasted twice a week (cf. Luke 5:33). [Note: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. "nestis," by J. Behm, 4:930.] This Pharisee was also scrupulous about tithing (cf. Luke 11:42).
"Never, perhaps, were words of thanksgiving spoken in less thankfulness than these. For, thankfulness implies the acknowledgment of a gift; hence, a sense of not having had ourselves What we have received; in other words, then, a sense of our personal need, or humility." [Note: Edersheim, 2:289-90.]
"But" introduces the striking contrast between the two individuals. The tax gatherer’s geographical distance from the Pharisee symbolized the difference. His unwillingness to lift his eyes, much less his hands, to heaven in prayer pictures his feeling of unworthiness (cf. Psalms 123:1; Mark 6:41; Mark 7:34; John 11:41; John 17:1). Beating his chest expressed contrition, which he articulated in his prayer. He did not boast of his own righteousness but pled with God for mercy acknowledging his sin (cf. Psalms 51). He used God as the standard of righteousness and confessed that he fell short. He knew that his only hope was God’s mercy. The Pharisee felt no need and voiced no petition, whereas the publican felt nothing but need and voiced only petition. [Note: Ibid., 2:292.]
"This parable is really the parable of the two prayers. In those prayers appear two kinds of hearts, whose contrast is not only seen in the way they make their request, but also in the way they approach God." [Note: Bock, Luke, pp. 460-61.]
Literally the publican asked God to be propitious (Gr. hilaskomai) or satisfied. Since Jesus made propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of humankind on the Cross no one needs to pray this prayer today. However when the tax collector prayed it propitiation through Jesus Christ’s blood was not yet available. It is, of course, permissible today to ask God to be merciful to us as sinners, but we need to remember that He has already done that through Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel is that God is propitious (satisfied; cf. 1 John 2:2).
"Merciful" is a translation of the ". . . Greek hilaskomai, used in the Septuagint and N.T. in connection with the mercy seat (Exodus 25:17-18; Exodus 25:21; Hebrews 9:5). An instructed Jew, the tax collector was thinking, not of mercy alone, but of the blood-sprinkled mercy seat (Leviticus 16:5 . . .). His prayer might be paraphrased, ’Be toward me as thou art when thou lookest upon the atoning blood.’ The Bible knows nothing of divine forgiveness apart from sacrifice . . ." [Note: The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1108.]
Jesus declared the tax collector justified (i.e., declared righteous, a judicial act, not made righteous; cf. Romans 3:24-25). God declared him righteous because he looked to God for the gift of righteousness rather than claiming to be righteous on his own merit as the Pharisee did. [Note: See F. F. Bruce, "Justification by Faith in the non-Pauline Writings of the New Testament," Evangelical Quarterly 24 (1952):66-77.] Jesus repeated the principle that God humbles those who exalt themselves, but He exalts those who humble themselves (cf. Luke 13:30; Luke 14:11). In the context Jesus meant that to be righteous in God’s sight one must acknowledge his lack of personal righteousness rather than pretending to have righteousness that he does not have. Justification depends on God’s grace, not on human works or merit.
Many modern Christians have heard this parable so often that we immediately associate Pharisees with self-righteous hypocrisy and tax collectors with humble piety. In Jesus’ day the Jews viewed them differently. It was the Pharisees who were the models of righteous behavior and the tax collectors who epitomized sinfulness. Therefore this parable undoubtedly made a great impact on the disciples.
The antecedent of "they" (NASB) is the "people" generally (NIV). People brought their infants (Gr. brephe) to Jesus so He would pray for God to bless them (cf. Matthew 19:13). Luke alone used brephe probably to stress the dependent condition of these children. It was customary for the Jews to bring their small children to rabbis for blessings. [Note: Carson, p. 420.] The disciples probably discouraged the parents from doing this because they thought Jesus had more important things to do.
2. An illustration of humility 18:15-17 (cf. Matthew 10:13-16; Mark 19:13-15)
Luke included this incident of Jesus receiving children to illustrate the humility that is necessary for someone to receive salvation. The idea of humility is the connecting link with what precedes. Humility is necessary to receive God’s grace.
Since Luke 9:50 Luke departed from the general narrative that Matthew and Mark recorded and included much material that does not appear in those Gospels. Here at Luke 18:15 he rejoined the story line of the other synoptic writers. There is more duplication of incidents in the chapters that follow than we have seen recently.
Jesus, however, corrected the disciples and encouraged the parents to continue bringing their children to Him. Jesus had an interest in the children because they illustrated the humility necessary to enter the kingdom. Obviously infants are not humble in the same sense that adults show humility, but infants are humble in the sense of being totally dependent and unable to provide for themselves. They receive rather than provide, and in those qualities they are good examples of humility. Without this sense of being unable to provide for oneself and a willingness to receive from another no adult can enter the kingdom.
Jesus also had an interest in these children for their own sake. As we have seen, one of Luke’s characteristic emphases in his Gospel was Jesus’ interest in the needy, outcasts, and other types of dependent people (Luke 4:18; et al.).
The young man believed he could do something to earn eternal life, and he wanted to make sure he had not overlooked it (cf. Luke 10:25). John 3:3-15 shows that eternal life includes life in the messianic kingdom. To obtain eternal life meant to enter the kingdom (John 3:3-5). Luke and Mark both have him using the word "inherit" (Gr. kleronomeso) while Matthew wrote "obtain" (Gr. scho). This difference probably reflects Matthew’s use of the young man’s original word. Mark and Luke probably used the word "inherit" for their Gentile readers to clarify what was in the rich young ruler’s mind. He was talking about getting something that he as a Jew thought that he had a good chance of obtaining because of his ethnic relationship to Abraham.
Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler 18:18-23 (cf. Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22)
The rich young ruler with his pride contrasts dramatically with the humble infants in the last pericope.
3. The handicap of wealth 18:18-30
This is another lesson on riches that Luke recorded (cf. Luke 6:24; Luke 8:14; Luke 11:41; Luke 12:13-34; Luke 16), but the context here is instruction on wealth as it pertains to entering into salvation and the kingdom. Someone might conclude from the previous incident that salvation depends only on the proper human attitude. This teaching clarifies that while the correct attitude is crucial, salvation is the work of God for man, not man’s work for himself. This is important revelation for unbelievers but also for disciples charged with bearing the gospel message to the ends of the earth.
"The religious leaders have repeatedly been presented as people who exalt themselves (Luke 11:43; Luke 14:7-11; Luke 16:15; Luke 18:9-14) and as greedy rich people who neglect the poor (Luke 11:39-41: Luke 14:12-14; Luke 16:14; Luke 16:19-31). However, Jesus has not given up all hope that some of these people will change. This is apparent in the scene in Luke 18:18-27." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:187.]
Jesus’ question accomplished two things. It set the standard for goodness, namely, God (cf. Luke 18:11). It also confronted the man with the logical implication of his question (Luke 18:18), namely, that Jesus was God. That the man did not believe that Jesus was God seems clear from his response to Him (Luke 18:23).
Jesus returned to the young man’s question (Luke 18:18). If he wanted to obtain eternal life by doing something, he would have to keep God’s laws. The rabbis taught that people could keep the Law in its entirety. [Note: Morris, p. 267.] Jesus cited the fifth through the ninth commandments from the Decalogue that deal with a person’s responsibilities to his or her fellowman (Exodus 20:12-16). By doing so, He affirmed the authority of the Old Testament. He was also gracious with the man by not referring to the commands about people’s responsibilities to God or the command about coveting. The man’s response indicated that he had kept the letter of the law (cf. Philippians 3:6).
Having passed the first test to his satisfaction, Jesus now presented him with the higher hurdle of not coveting, the tenth commandment (cf. Romans 7:7-8). Jesus’ command exposed the man’s greed, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Thus this man had really violated the first and the tenth commandments, though he thought he had kept them. If he had been willing to give away his possessions, he would have shown that he was repudiating his greed. By following Jesus, he would have shown that he was repudiating his own self-righteousness. These would have been the appropriate fruits of his repentance. Treasure in heaven implies eternal reward (cf. Luke 12:33-34). Rabbinism prohibited giving away all of one’s possessions. [Note: Edersheim, 2:342.]
The man’s sorrow on hearing Jesus’ command was proportionate to his wealth. His unwillingness to part with his riches showed that he valued them more than treasure in heaven. He really wanted material wealth more than eternal life (Luke 18:18).
The other Synoptic evangelists recorded that at this point the young man went away (Matthew 19:22; Mark 10:22). He is the only person in the Gospels who came to Jesus and went away in a worse condition than when he came.
Jesus’ logic is quite clear in this conversation. He reasoned that God alone is perfect (Luke 18:19). Moreover God’s standard for obtaining eternal life by good works is perfection (Luke 18:20-21). Therefore no one can obtain eternal life by good works.
Luke alone mentioned that Jesus looked at the young man and then spoke. He probably did this to make the connection between Jesus’ comments that followed and the young man’s attitude clear to his readers. Jesus said that wealth makes it difficult, but not impossible (cf. Luke 19:1-10), for rich people to obtain salvation. Riches are a handicap because they present two temptations to the wealthy (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9-10). First, rich people sometimes conclude that because they are rich they are superior to the poor, perhaps more blessed by God, and therefore do not need God’s grace. Second, they may conclude that because they are rich they are secure, and therefore they fail to plan for the future beyond the grave.
"John D. Rockefeller . . . once said that riches were ’a gift from heaven signifying, ’This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.’" [Note: Wiersbe, 1:250.]
A camel going through the eye of a sewing needle (Gr. belones) was evidently a proverbial expression describing a very difficult thing.
Jesus’ teaching about riches 18:24-30 (cf. Matthew 19:23-30; Mark 10:23-31)
Jesus continued talking with His disciples about the preceding conversation. However, Luke did not identify the disciples as those to whom Jesus spoke. This gives the impression that what Jesus said has relevance to all people including the readers, as it does.
The Jews viewed wealth as a sign of God’s blessing since God had blessed many of the most godly in the past with riches (e.g., Abraham, Job, Joseph, David, et al.). The idea that riches really could hinder a person entering the kingdom rather than paving the way for his acceptance shocked them. Apparently Jesus meant that no one, even the rich, could enter the kingdom. Entrance is impossible from the human viewpoint, but God can produce repentance and faith in the heart of anyone, even the rich (cf. Luke 1:37; Genesis 18:14). Being "saved" (Luke 18:26) in this context means being delivered into the kingdom.
Peter reminded Jesus that the Twelve had done what the rich young ruler had been unwilling to do (cf. Luke 14:26-27). His comment, as Luke and Mark recorded it, was an implicit request for assurance that they would enter the kingdom (cf. Mark 10:28).
"It is surprising that, although generally Jesus does not think in terms of seeking reward, here he is prepared to respond to Peter’s saying. This suggests that Peter’s question was not regarded by the Evangelists as an implicit claim for a selfish reward. Rather it is seen as an opportunity to give a promise that self-denial for the sake of the kingdom will be vindicated." [Note: Marshall, The Gospel . . ., p. 688.]
For emphasis Jesus introduced His reply with the preface that affirmed the truthfulness of what followed. Everyone who denies himself or herself the normal comforts and contacts of life to advance God’s mission will receive a greater reward from God for doing so. Luke used the phrase "for the kingdom of God" (Luke 18:29; cf. Luke 18:25) whereas Matthew used "for my sake" (Matthew 19:29) and Mark wrote "for my sake and for the gospel’s sake" (Mark 10:29). These are all synonymous concepts.
First, that one will receive deeper spiritual comfort and more satisfying human contacts in the present life (cf. Acts 2:44-47; Acts 4:32-37). Second, he or she will receive an even better and enduring life in the coming kingdom. Jesus and the apostles spoke of eternal life as a reward for self-sacrifice (Matthew 19:29; Mark 10:30; John 12:25-26; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:22; Galatians 6:8) and as the gift of God that comes to everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). [Note: See Dillow, pp. 135-45, for an explanation of the biblical teaching regarding inheriting eternal life as a reward.] Jesus mentioned it here with rewards because it provides the ultimate contrast with what disciples give up now. Giving up a wife may refer to giving up marriage rather than leaving a wife, or periods of separation to engage in kingdom business may be in view.
Luke alone recorded that the things that would happen to Jesus in Jerusalem would be a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (cf. Luke 12:50; Luke 22:37; Acts 13:29). Luke apparently stressed the fact that Jesus’ ministry fulfilled prophecy so his readers would have greater confidence in Him (cf. Luke 2:25-38; Luke 22:37).
The Hellenistic mind resisted the idea that a God-man could be truly human. The ancient Greek concept of the gods visiting human beings lay behind this difficulty. Consequently Luke presented much evidence for his Greek readers throughout his Gospel that Jesus was a real man. The Jews on the other hand had difficulty accepting the fact that Jesus was truly God. This accounts for Matthew’s stress on Jesus’ deity. Throughout church history there have been those who, like the Greeks, had trouble accepting Jesus’ full humanity and others, like the Jews, who have resisted His full deity.
4. Jesus’ passion announcement and the disciples’ lack of perception 18:31-34 (cf. Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34)
Jesus’ passion announcements to His disciples constitute important structural markers in Mark’s Gospel. Luke and Matthew did not use them this way. The incident before us was the third passion announcement that Jesus gave beside other allusions to His death that He made (cf. Luke 5:35; Luke 12:50; Luke 13:32-33; Luke 17:25).
|First passion announcement||Matthew 16:21-23||Mark 8:31-33||Luke 9:22|
|Second passion announcement||Matthew 17:22-23||Mark 9:30-32||Luke 9:43-45|
|Third passion announcement||Matthew 20:17-19||Mark 10:32-34||Luke 18:31-34|
Luke presented this announcement as part of his travelogue that records Jesus moving from Galilee to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51 to Luke 19:27). He played down the amazement and fear of the disciples that Mark stressed here. Instead he focused the reader’s attention on the disciples’ failure to understand what was going to happen in Jerusalem. There is a continuation of the theme of responding to Jesus’ words that precedes. The rich young ruler failed to respond to the good news that Jesus proclaimed. Similarly the disciples, though believing the gospel, failed to respond to the bad news He told them. There is also a continuation of the theme of entering the kingdom. The disciples would enter because they believed in Jesus, but they would have to go through trials and tribulations, as Jesus would, before they did. The death of Jesus provided the basis for God’s gracious dealings with believers through His Son (Luke 18:26-27).
This was Jesus’ first reference to the Gentiles’ role in His trial and death. Luke’s inclusion of this detail suggests that he did not want his Gentile readers to miss the guilt of Gentiles for Jesus’ death. The passive construction pictures Jesus as the victim of Gentile wrath.
"Not one prophet ever said all this, but the prophets together did say all this. Hence, this is a summation." [Note: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, p. 845.]
Luke alone repeated three times that the disciples failed to comprehend Jesus’ words. He strongly suggested that their failure was due to God withholding this understanding from them (cf. Luke 24:16; Luke 24:25-26). That is, it was not within God’s purpose for them to understand at this time. The illumination of believers is a necessary work of God’s Spirit that is supernatural. The Twelve probably would not believe that such a fate would befall Jesus.
"The failure of the disciples to understand the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and rejection involves the following interrelated defects: (1) a failure to understand God’s plan as announced in Scripture, including God’s way of working by using human opposition to fulfill the divine purpose; (2) a failure to accept rejection and suffering as a necessary part of discipleship; (3) a failure to reckon with the rejection of Jesus, resulting in premature, overly optimistic expectations for the immediate enjoyment of the messianic salvation; (4) rivalry over rank because of a failure to recognize that only those who devote their lives as servants can be great as Jesus is great." [Note: Tannehill, The Narrative . . ., 1:254.]
Luke wrote that Jesus met the blind man as He was approaching Jericho, but Matthew and Mark said that the incident occurred as Jesus was leaving that town (Matthew 20:29; Mark 10:46). There have been many explanations of this apparent contradiction. A summary of the most popular ones that reflect a high view of the biblical text follows.
One view is that there were three separate incidents. Matthew recorded two blind men and Mark said there was one and his name was Bartimaeus. However the similarities between the stories argue for a single incident with Mark and Luke concentrating on the more prominent of the two blind beggars. Another view is that Jesus performed two separate healings, one as He entered Jericho and another as He left. Again the similarities of the descriptions argue for one incident. [Note: See Zane C. Hodges, "The Blind Men at Jericho," Bibliotheca Sacra 122:488 (October-December 1965):319-30.] A third view is that there was just one incident but it took place in two stages. Jesus met the men as He entered Jericho but healed them as He departed. This is possible, but it seems unlikely in view of the Evangelists’ accounts of the incident. A fourth and preferable explanation is that there was one incident that happened as Jesus was leaving old Jericho and entering new Jericho. [Note: See Flavius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 4:8:3, for the identification of these two Jerichos.] The problems with this view are essentially two. There is no evidence that people still inhabited the old town, and it is not certain that the name of the old town was still Jericho.
5. The healing of a blind man near Jericho 18:35-43 (cf. Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52)
Luke’s primary purpose for including this incident in his narrative seems to have been to show that God, through Jesus, can give insight to those who humbly call on Him for mercy. Here was another humble outcast similar to the tax collector (cf. Luke 18:13) who experienced salvation because of his faith (Luke 18:42). Jesus not only saved him but also opened his eyes physically and spiritually.
Luke alone mentioned that it was the noise of the multitude passing him by that led the blind man to ask what was happening. The writer may have done this simply to present a more vigorous scene, or the inclusion may reflect his characteristic interest in the multitudes, or both.
"Son of David" was a messianic title that expressed the man’s faith in Jesus as Israel’s Messiah (cf. Luke 1:27; Luke 1:32; 2 Samuel 7:8-16; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 34:23-24). Like the tax collector (Luke 18:13), he called out for mercy without claiming any merit. His insistence reflected his belief that Jesus could help him and his hope that Jesus would help him. Opposition only made him more adamant in his desire.
6. Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate 23:13-25 (cf. Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; John 18:39-19:16)
The overall impression that Luke presented with this part of his narrative is that Jesus’ condemnation was a terrible travesty of justice. Pilate condemned an innocent man. This decision comes across as especially heinous since he also acquitted a guilty man. The strong resolve of the Jewish leaders overcame the weak will of the Roman official.
Jesus evidently asked His question to elicit the blind man’s faith. He certainly knew what he wanted. The title "Lord" here obviously reflects more than simple respect. It expressed the man’s faith. Jesus’ words would have left no doubt that He was responsible for the miracle. He hastened to clarify that the man’s faith was the instrumental cause of the healing. Luke stressed this again for his readers’ benefit (cf. Luke 7:50; Luke 8:48; Luke 17:19). Divine power was the efficient cause of the healing.
The responses to the instantaneous (Luke 1:64; et al.) healing were what they should have been. The man began following Jesus, and he glorified God (cf. Luke 18:23). Likewise the observers’ reaction was to praise God. Only Luke recorded the glorifying and praising of God that took place then (cf. Luke 2:20; Luke 5:25; et al.). This reflects his interest in the joyful outcome of salvation (cf. Luke 5:26; Luke 17:18; Acts 2:47; Acts 3:9).
Luke probably included this incident partially to contrast the faith of the blind man with the unbelief of the religious leaders. Again the humble received salvation while others who failed to realize their need for Jesus’ grace did not. The incident would have been a lesson to the disciples as well as the multitudes.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30