Most of those who study the Bible make the assumption that the three accounts of the blind men sitting along the roadside in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are the same incident. I did also, but it dawned on me that it if I didn’t make that assumption it could be three separate incidents. There are some similarities, but there are differences that make it impossible for the accounts to be the same event.
In Matthew and Mark Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho and in Luke they were approaching Jericho. In the account reported in Matthew there were two blind men. In Mark and Luke there was only one.
If you take this as the same event reported by three different witnesses then it would be apparent that the disciples did not know where they were, what direction they were headed, and at least two of them couldn’t count to two! Well, I’m not buying that.
There are similarities in the stories. The blind men were all along the roadside, but almost all of the blind would have been next to the road as that is where the money was. When you beg for a living it only makes sense to be where the most men, with the most money, pass by. In today’s world they would flash by in their expensive car, but in those days they either walked or rode an animal. Either way, whether they walked or rode, the blind had a chance of presenting their request. The odds of scoring were much better along the road so that is where you would find the blind.
Any of the blind, when they heard the crowd, would have asked what was going on. That is only human nature. Anyone who was asked would have told the blind man that it was Jesus and because the man that asked was blind would have told him that Jesus healed the blind. (That is also human nature)
Any blind man, when told someone could heal them, would have raised a ruckus to be healed. Everyone who asked Jesus to heal them was healed and anyone that suddenly received their sight would have followed the one that gave them that sight just out of love and admiration. Also their life would now be totally different, they could no longer beg. They would have no skills that would allow them to make a living, so what else could they do?
It is amazing to me that all of the blind men, when they found out it was Jesus knew that He was the Son of David, even though it was physically impossible as David had died many years before Jesus was born. Anyway, they all asked for mercy first, then they asked for sight and of course Jesus granted their request.
If I believe these are different accounts of the same incident I must find a way to reconcile how the Bible doesn’t accurately report what happened, just as most scholars do now, and I used to. However I will never again doubt the accounts, because I now believe they are three separate incidents, reported by three witnesses, at three different places, about four blind men.
I have included the three accounts just to make it easy for you to compare them.
(Mat 20:29-34 NIV) As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.
(Mark 10:46-52 NIV) Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
(Luke 18:35-43 NIV) As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.