Commentators and harmonizers agree in treating these three accounts as recording one single miracle. As in other cases, they assume similar discourses, sayings, and miracles to be identical, as though the Lord never repeated a single word or work. (See App. 116, 138, 153, 157, 158, 160, 163.)
The same may be seen in dealing with the healing of the blind men at Jericho.
From a comparison of the three Gospels it will be readily seen that four blind men were healed, and that there were three separate miracles on the Lord's visit to Jericho.
The following particulars may be noted and considered :--
I. The Occasion.
1. In the first miracle the Lord was "come nigh unto Jericho".
2. The second was "as He went out of Jericho".
3. The third took place "as they departed from", and had evidently left Jericho.
II. The Blind Men.
1. In the first there was one, unnamed.
2. In the second there was one, named (Bartimaeus).
3. In the third there were two men.
III. The Circumstances.
1. The one man was begging.
2. The second likewise.
3. The two men were not begging, and apparently were simply waiting for the Lord's passing by.
IV. Their Knowledge.
1. The first man did not know what the crowd meant, and asked.
2. The second (Bartimaeus) heard, but seems to have made no inquiry and at once cried out.
3. The two men also heard, and cried out at once.
V. Their Cry.
1. The first man cried "Jesus, thou Son of David".
2. The second man cried "Son of David".
3. The two men cried "O Lord, son of David".
VI. The Lord's Action.
1. The Lord "commanded (the first man) to be brought".
2. He "commanded (the second man) to be called".
3. He called the two men Himself.
VII. Their Healing.
1. The first desired that he might be able to see (anablepo).
2. The second in like manner.
3. The two men asked that "their eyes might be opened" (anoigo).
VIII. The Lord's Reply.
1. In the first case, the Lord said : "Receive thy sight, thy faith hath saved thee."
2. In the second case, the Lord said : "Go thy way, thy faith hath saved thee."
3. In the third case, the Lord "had compassion on them, and touched their eyes", saying nothing.
IX. The Result.
1. The first man "followed Him, glorifying God, and all the people gave praise to God."
2. Bartimaeus "followed Jesus in the way", apparently in silence.
3. The two men "followed Him", in silence also.
We thus gather that the first two men were beggars who sat daily at either gate of Jericho : Jericho having at that time some 100,000 people, and doubtless many blind men.
In face of this and of the above details, all that a recent commentator has to say is :--
"The variation is undeniable, and the accounts cannot be harmonized at this point. But of course it is quite immaterial... According to Matthew there were two blind men. Calvin therefore suggests that Bartimaeus met Jesus on His entrance to the city, and then went for the other blind man, and that both were healed as Jesus was leaving the city. This is very artificial dealing with the plain narratives. It is better to accept them as varying accounts of one single incident."
True, we cannot harmonize "one man" and "two men" without abandoning
all idea of inspiration. We submit therefore that "it is better"
to take all the details as being evidences of the minutest perfection,
and avoid both artificial and superficial dealing with the Divine narratives.