ARE MATTHEW 20:29-34, MARK 10:46-52, AND LUKE 18:35-43 THE SAME MIRACLE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Bible scrutinizers lambaste Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43 as “contradictory.” When we turn to those Scriptures, we see that the details indeed vary. As believers in Christ, how do we reconcile these differences? If they are not mistakes, why do they read thus?
Matthew 20:29-34: “ And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him.  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou son of David.  And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?  They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened.  So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.”
Mark 10:46-52: “ And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.  And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.  And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.  And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”
Luke 18:35-43: “ And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:  And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant.  And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.  And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.  And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him,  Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.  And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.  And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.”
Here are the major details that vary between Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 10:46-52, and Luke 18:35-43:
- Matthew has Jesus leaving Jericho and healing two blind men (verses 29-30).
- Mark has Jesus leaving Jericho and healing one blind man, Bartimaeus (verse 46).
- Luke has Jesus entering Jericho and healing one blind man (verse 35).
In other words, was it two blind men (Matthew), or one blind man (Mark and Luke)? Also, was Jesus leaving Jericho (Matthew and Mark), or was He entering Jericho (Luke)?
Here is the simplest explanation. Evidently, Luke writes of a miracle Jesus performed on a single blind man before entering Jericho. Matthew and Mark focus on what Jesus did after He left Jericho. There were two men healed here—one, apparently the spokesman or leader of the two, was named Bartimaeus.
If Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10:46-52 are the same miracle, and they appear to be, then why does Matthew speak of two men whereas Mark mentions just one? Matthew emphasizes the dispensational view, and we have already seen in his Gospel Record a similar miraculous demonstration presented in like manner. (See also our study on Matthew 8:28-34 linked at the end of this article.)
A few years earlier in His earthly ministry, Christ had delivered the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5–7) and the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to select 10 special miracles to authenticate that Kingdom message (chapters 8–9). The ninth miracle is recorded in Matthew 9:27-30: “ And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us.  And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.  Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.  And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it.”
We see two blind men healed in Matthew chapter 9, and two more blind men healed in chapter 21. The key to understanding them is they both underscore Jesus as “Son of David” (Matthew 9:27; Matthew 20:30-31). Matthew presents Jesus as King, the rightful heir to King David’s throne. The “two men” are the two nations or two kingdoms that resulted after David’s son King Solomon sinned and died. Read 1 Kings chapter 11 to learn about the 12 tribes of Israel dividing into 10 northern tribes (collectively called “Israel”) and two southern tribes (collectively titled “Judah”). According to Jeremiah 31:31 and Ezekiel 37:15-28, Messiah (Jesus, Son of David) and the New Covenant will reunite Israel and Judah, that they become one nation as they were before. Matthew, in presenting the two cases of the two healed blind men, therefore reminds his readers that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day heal “blind” Israel and Judah of their spiritual and political blindness.
Mark 10:46-34 focuses on one of the two blind men Jesus healed as He departed Jericho. This man—whom Mark alone names “Bartimaeus” (“son of the unclean;” typical of the sinner)—symbolizes the single nation Israel God originally called Israel to be before Solomon ruined the arrangement with his pagan idolatry. Bartimaeus was the more outspoken of the two blind men Jesus healed as He left Jericho, which is why the Holy Spirit moved Mark to stress him (particularly his descriptive name).
» Are Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-19, and Luke 8:26-39 the same miracle?
» How will God “chasten” the seed of David?
» How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?