The healing of the Blind Beggar in the Gospel of Luke is a miracle story. In a nutshell, it tells of a blind beggar sitting by the roadside who calls out to Jesus thus regaining his sight and consequently follows Jesus while giving glory to God.
In General, the Gospel of Luke is written to an audience outside the Jewish fraternity. It shows how “salvation promised to Israel and accomplished by Jesus has been extended to the Gentiles.” The author, a companion of Paul during his (Paul’s) mission is writing to churches that have previously heard of Paul’s teaching either ‘directly or indirectly’. Consequently, it is not unusual that in the story of the healing of the blind beggar, there is an emphasis on persistence and faith. It is a premonition of the resilience that is replete among the apostles in the Acts after Jesus’ departure. The authorship of Luke is believed to extend beyond the Gospel of Luke to the Acts of the Apostles where persistence and faith is paramount if at all the Gospel is to be preached.
This story is told in the other gospels as well. In the Gospel of Mark (10: 46-52), the name of the blind beggar is given as Bartimaeus, Son of Timaeus. In Mathew 20:20-34, there are two blind men instead of one. Even though there is an obvious similarity in the storyline among all the Gospels, there are interesting differences worth noting. Mathew and Mark both report that Jesus had come to Jericho and the healing miracle took place as ‘he was leaving Jericho.’ Contrarily, Luke writes that Jesus encountered the Blind man ‘as he approached Jericho.’ Some scholars have suggested that Luke does this purposefully because the subsequent story of Zacchaeus as told by Luke takes place within Jericho. The crowds try to discourage the man in all the three Gospels but Mark indicates that some of them actually encourage him once Jesus has noticed him. In both Mathew and Luke, Jesus is referred to us Lord while in Mark the blind man says ‘Master’. Mathew talks of two blind men at two different occasions. These contrasts, parallels and similarities point to the synoptic relationship among the three Gospels.
An Outline: 
-Luke 18: 35-43
1. The Blind Beggar; sitting by the road side begging:
(a) Hears the crowd going by and inquires what is happening
(b) Is told that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by
2. The Blind Beggar calls out to Jesus:
(a) Son of David!
(b) Have Pity on me!
3. The Crowds rebuke him but he shouts the more until Jesus hears him:
(a) Jesus orders that he be brought to him
(b)Jesus asks what he wants him to do for him
4. The blind man’s request and the healing performed by Jesus
(a) ‘Lord, please let me see’
(b) ‘Have sight: your faith has saved you!’
The blind man regains his sight; giving glory to God, he follows Jesus while all the people give praise to God.
This miracle story is positioned in a series of Jesus’ ministry on his way to Jerusalem. In Luke 9:51, the passage begins by alerting the reader that Jesus is taking a journey towards Jerusalem where his suffering, death and resurrection would take place. Most of the events from this section then are centered on an itinerant ministry, most probably a lesson to the apostles of what kind of witness they would have to give after Jesus’ exodus.. Just like their Master, they will have the power to drive out demons, cure the sick and restore sight to the spiritually impaired. They will indubitably become the light of the world as they bring the good news and glad tidings to all the corners of the world.
Key Words and Concepts
A blind beggar: Blindness was considered as a sign of God’s curse on the individual. As early as the Old Testament period, not only were blind people prevented from offering sacrifices to God but even a blind animal could not be offered. (Leviticus 21: 16-24). Jesus’ restoration of sight to the blind is also a restoration of these individuals to the worshipping community.
Son of David: This was the title that was used to refer to the Royal Identity, the blind man recognizes Jesus as the Messiah from the Davidic dynasty. This address was actually alluded to by the Angel in Luke 2:11 when speaking to the Shepherds: Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is messiah and Lord. This shows that the blind man might have heard of Jesus before and he expected that a miracle was possible.
Have Mercy on Me: The cry of the blind beggar symbolizes a cry from an inflicted person in the society who expects Mercy. Etymologically, Mercy stems from Greek words eleos, oiktos which translates to “exclamation of pity at the sight of another’s ill fortune.”
Faith: In a broader sense, especially as used in the Old Testament had its root in the word aman which meant ‘trustworthy’. Later on it took the meaning of emunah, referring to absolute fidelity to God. Jesus uses the word Faith prolifically after most of the healings. St. Paul would later use faith to refer to fidelity to God through Jesus Christ.
The main teaching: Persistence in Faith.
In earlier passages in Luke 18, there are similar stories that mirror the demeanor of the Blind beggar. For instance, in Luke 18: 1-8, there is a story of the persistent widow who keeps going back to the judge until she is accorded justice. In Luke 18: 15-17, there are children who are coming to see Jesus and are pushing their way through despite the fact that the disciples try to stop them. Later in Luke 19, there is even a more explicit gesture in the story of Zacchaeus; a tax collector and a sinner who climbs on top of a tree to seek audience with Jesus.
One of the most concrete descriptions of Faith is given in the letter to the Hebrews: 11:1. In one of his reflections on this passage, Walter Brueggemann uses this description to explain how the blind beggar’s faith was a precursor to the cure. He writes:
“Jesus’ response is quick and simple. “Go, your faith has cured you.” His faith has done it. His faith is an act of hope which refuses to settle for the status quo: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1) This blind man’s only recourse was things hoped for, things not seen, and such faith gave him sight. Faith is an overt act of self-assertion by which the man knows he is entitled to healing. In asserting his faith, the beggar performs an act of subversion; he violates all the conventions and steps out of his assigned role. Faith is the courage to speak, to announce for oneself a new possibility.”
As stated above, the blindness as used in this passage and several other places in the Gospel, points to an allegorical use as well. In other words, there is a possibility of being unable to follow God’s law as demanded. Consequently, a ‘lack of insight' into the precepts of God’s commands is a spiritual deprivation that requires healing as well.
All evangelists concur that the coming Jesus was the dawning of a new age. The happening of wondrous deeds was foretold several generations before in the Old Testament. For instance, the prophecy of Isaiah 35:5 foretold the healing of the blind and the setting of the captives free. We live in a world today that replicates the world of the blind beggar. The places of the poor beggars in the society have not changed much since the time of Jesus. As a result this passage can act as a wake up call as a Social Justice issue. As followers of Christ, we are called upon to act with mercy, have pity and bring relief to those who due to one reason or another are stuck by the wayside. “A great speaker can command attention and respect, but a man or woman with a helping hand and a big heart is loved more.” Our contribution in form of almsgiving is one way of being Christ like as exhibited in this Gospel message. Unfortunately, some people in the world today have learnt to take advantage of the system by feigning poverty, thus putting a gigantic strain on the depleted welfare system for instance. As a result, this passage is susceptible to misuse by those who would say that arbitrary assistance should be given to anyone who cries out for mercy. This calls for proper discernment of those who are really in need so that in the end, the dishonest do not spoil for those who are indeed in need.
Another way of looking at this passage is by putting ourselves in the perspective of the blind beggar. As human beings, we are spiritually short sighted in many ways. As limited creatures, we fall short and err in our thoughts and actions. Consequently, we need to have persistence in Faith just like Bartimaeus. We need to call out to the Lord in time of need. The Lord Jesus promised that he would be with us until the end of time and so if we call out for help, the Lord will listen, have mercy on us and grant us salvation. In the end, the last verse of the passage reminds us that thanksgiving to God is necessary as we continue to receive the abundant graces.
Achtemeier ed, J.P, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, HaperSanFransisco: 1985
Brown R.E, An Introduction to the New Testament, New York, Doubleday, 1997
Brown, Collin ed. Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, Michighan: Grand Rapids, 1976
Fitzmyer, J.A The Gospel According to Luke, New York: Doubleday 1985,
Fitzmyer, Joseph, Brown, et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, New Jersey: Prentice Hall
James Mays, et al, Harper’s Bible Commentary, San Fransisco: Harper and Row Pub 1988.
New American Bible, USCCB, December 2002.
The Catholic Study bible, New York: Catholic Publishing Company,1970
Throckmorton, Burton, Jr., Gospel Parallels; A synopsis of the First three Gospels, New York: Thomas Nelson Inc. Pub; 1979.
 The Catholic Study bible, New York: Catholic Publishing Company,1970
 R.E Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, New York, Doubleday, 1997.
 The Catholic Study Bible.
 R.E Brown, 252
 J. Achtemeier, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, HaperSanFransisco: 1985. p. 148
 Joseph Fitzmyer, Brown, et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, p. 711
 New American Bible, USCCB, December 2002.
 J.A Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke, New York: Doubleday 1985, p. 1215
 Collin Brown, ed. Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, Michighan: Grand Rapids, 1976.
 J. Achtemeier, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, 148
 Walter Brueggermann is professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. This article appeared in the Christian Century, February 5-12, 1986, p. 114.
 J. Achtemeier, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, p. 148
 James Mays, et al, Harper’s Bible Commentary, San Fransisco: Harper and Row Pub 1988.
 Meditations on the Healing of the Blind Beggar, cited in an article, by Dr. Ralf Wilson. http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/18_35-43.htm