New Testament Miracle Stories:
Jesus Gives Sight to the Blind
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

The four canonical Gospels contain six stores of Jesus giving sight to one or more blind people. Three of these pericopes may or may not be independent traditions, since their settings and details are very different (Mark 8:22-26; Matt 9:27-31; John 9:1-7). The other three pericopes are clearly parallel versions of the same synoptic tradition, despite some differences in the details (Mark 10:48-52; Matt 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43).

Three Significantly Different Pericopes:

Mark 8:22-26 - One Blind Man
outside the village of Bethsaida
Matt 9:27-31 - Two Blind Men
early in Jesus' Ministry in Galilee
John 9:1-7 - The Man Blind since Birth
near the Temple of Jerusalem
22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" 24 And the man looked up and said, "I can see people, but they look like trees, walking." 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even go into the village." 27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you." 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, "See that no one knows of this." 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, 7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

Three Versions of the Same Synoptic Story:

Mark 10:46b-52 - Blind Bartimaeus
as Jesus leaves Jericho
Matt 20:29-34 - Two Blind Men
as Jesus leaves Jericho
Luke 18:35-43 - One Blind Man
as Jesus approaches Jericho
46 As he and his disciples
and a large crowd were leaving Jericho,
Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar,
was sitting by the roadside.
47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth,
he began to shout out and say,
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
48 Many sternly ordered him to be quiet,
but he cried out even more loudly,
"Son of David, have mercy on me!"
49 Jesus stood still and said,
"Call him here."
And they called the blind man, saying to him,
"Take heart; get up, he is calling you."
50 So throwing off his cloak,
he sprang up and came to Jesus.
51 Then Jesus said to him,

"What do you want me to do for you?"
The blind man said to him,
"My teacher, let me see again."
52 Jesus said to him,
"Go; your faith has made you well."

Immediately he regained his sight
and followed him on the way.

29 As they were leaving Jericho,
a large crowd followed him.
30 There were two blind men
sitting by the roadside.
When they heard that Jesus was passing by,
they shouted,
"Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"
31 The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet;
but they shouted even more loudly,
"Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!"
32 Jesus stood still
and called them, saying,
"What do you want me to do for you?"
33 They said to him,
"Lord, let our eyes be opened."
34 Moved with compassion,
Jesus touched their eyes.

Immediately they regained their sight
and followed him.

35 As he approached Jericho,
a blind man
was sitting by the roadside begging.
36 When he heard a crowd going by,
he asked what was happening.
37 They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."

38 Then he shouted,
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
39 Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet;
but he shouted even more loudly,
"Son of David, have mercy on me!"
40 Jesus stood still
and ordered the man to be brought to him;
and when he came near, he asked him,
41 "What do you want me to do for you?"
He said,
"Lord, let me see again."
42 Jesus said to him,
"Receive your sight; your faith has saved you."
43 Immediately he regained his sight
and followed him, glorifying God;
and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

(19:1 He entered Jericho and was passing through it.)

Holy Transfiguration Monastery Icon: Two Scenes from John 9Questions for Discussion:

  1. What core elements of this story are found in all three versions: Mark, Matthew, and Luke?
  2. What are the detailed differences in how Mark, Matthew, and Luke tell this story?
  3. What does these differences tell you about the themes and emphases of each evangelist?
  4. When compared to other Gospel miracle stories, how are these pericopes typical or atypical in form?

Related Resources:

Electronic New Testament Educational Resources

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