What does Luke 18:37 mean?
ESV: They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
NIV: They told him, 'Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.'
NASB: They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.
CSB: "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by," they told him.
NLT: They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by.
KJV: And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by.
Verse Commentary:
Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46) is sitting on the side of the road near Jericho. Passover is coming soon. A great number of Jews from the east and north must walk up this road to get to Jerusalem. This is the time of year that Jews donate money to the poor. He's picked a prime begging spot. The crowds are heavier than usual, however. They sound different. So Bartimaeus asks what's going on (Luke 18:35–36).

This is the first of three different responses to him. Here, the crowd just answers his question. They're excited. It does no harm to tell the beggar what's going on.

When Bartimaeus hears that it's Jesus, he cries out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The crowd has a very different response to this. Jews believe that blindness is God's punishment for the sin of the person or the parents (John 9:2); they think Bartimaeus is cursed by God. A great teacher who performs miraculous works, they think, would never condescend to interact with such people (Luke 18:38–39). Like the disciples with the children (Luke 18:15–17), they try to "protect" Jesus from the powerless but faithful—not knowing they are the ones He came to save.

Jesus stops, of course, and heals Bartimaeus. The crowd again takes a new tone, this time praising and glorifying God (Luke 18:40–43).
Verse Context:
Luke 18:35–43 records Jesus healing a blind beggar in Jericho. The trusting man believes the plain meaning of what he's heard about Jesus, in contrast to the disciples (Luke 18:31–34). This story is the beginning of the last of four sets of stories that begin with a miracle and go on to explain truths about God's kingdom. After meeting Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10) and telling a parable about faithfulness in the kingdom (Luke 19:11–27), the "Travelogue to Jerusalem" will end and Jesus will triumphally enter the city. Mark 10:46–52 identifies the blind man as Bartimaeus. Matthew 20:29–34 says Jesus heals two blind men.
Chapter Summary:
Luke continues to arrange Jesus' teachings by their topic. Here, he includes two parables: the persistent widow and the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus encourages children to approach Him. He interacts with a moral, wealthy man who can't bear to follow Jesus if it means giving up wealth. After another prediction of His death, Jesus encounters and heals a blind man on His way to Jerusalem.
Chapter Context:
Luke 18 approaches the end of Jesus' "travelogue" to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51—19:27). Luke has selected miracles, teachings, and events to show how Jesus trained His disciples. His emphasis was explaining the kingdom of God in preparation for their work to build the church. Luke 18 includes several contrasts between those who understand God's kingdom and those who don't. Luke 19 includes the story of Zacchaeus and another parable before Jesus' triumphal entry and the Passion Week. These stories are also found primarily in Matthew 19—20 and Mark 10.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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