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.
- Matthew 20:29-34
Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “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.
- Mark 10:46-52
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.
- Luke 18:35-43
My second trip to mainland China, I flew into Beijing and a driver drove my fellow instructor and I to Tangshan, not that far away. I was suffering from exhaustion after the long flight, so I started looking at road signs. Some were in English – sort of. One common sign along that divided highway was something like “Avoid Collisions – for minor accidents – move to the side.” Some places in the USA will have that kind of sign, sometimes calling it a fender bender. They do not wish to have secondary accidents driving around something that is minor.
But then about two thirds of the way toward Tangshan, one of the signs said “Avoid Colusions – for minor accidents – move to the side.” Yes, in a Communist country, they especially did not want the two drivers to collude and create a false story that benefits both parties in the end.
Yes, I know. The sign maker probably could not read or write in English and he thought he saw “U” instead of seeing “L” and then “I”. It could happen to anyone. Several years later, I was on the same highway, and they had not fixed the sign.
Why do detectives have eyewitnesses retell and retell their stories?
There are many reasons. One is that a well-practiced story may sound great, but the story may have developed a life of its own. If it is not practiced, little details may appear in the retelling or disappear. It is up to the detective to determine if the new or missing detail is an unneeded embellishment or a fact that the witness had missed in telling the story the first, second, or third time. If the story is always the same, it is less believable.
When several witnesses are involved, it is almost impossible to get the same story from each. If the stories agree, chances are there was collusion between the witnesses and all their testimonies are then tainted.
From the three synoptic Gospels, we see what most think is the same story, but there are many details that are different. In Matthew, there are two blind men and Jesus touches their eyes. In Mark there is one blind man by the name of Bartimaeus. In Luke, the story is similar to the story in Mark, but the blind man is not named. The words being said are all a little different. But the things that are the same involve Jesus being called “Son of David,” the blind man or men what their sight or to see, they are healed, and they follow Jesus. In following Jesus, a disciple finds out that one of the blind men is Bartimaeus. Maybe the other blind man stopped following after a while and was forgotten. Maybe the eyewitnesses for Mark and Luke were shielded from a direct line of sight and missed the other guy. I have often wondered if these are not the same stories, but both or all three stories happened along that short road from Jericho to Jerusalem. That idea may be the least believable.
A contradiction seems to be what many would argue, but Lee Strobel said, as a former investigative reporter, that such details as how many or what was done or what was said often is different from one eyewitness to the next. Lee Strobel points to these stories as proof that the Gospels are reliable eyewitness accounts and that the Apostles did not collude with one another before writing.
My wife has often said about some of my storytelling is 50% real and 50% fantasy. She simply did not see it that way.
It is wonderful how God can use us. We make mistakes. We miss key elements in the story. We think we saw something that was not there. But if we put our heads together and give a consistent story, it is even less believable. And God understood that when He inspired the writers of the Gospels. No contradiction at all, just a different eyewitness seeing the same event from a different location in the same crowd and not colluding with the other eyewitnesses.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.