Bartimaeus was a blind beggar sitting by the side of the road outside of Jericho. I imagine he sat there quite often, hoping those who passed by would be generous to him. This particular day Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho and there was a great crowd with them.
When Bartimaeus heard Jesus was among the crowd he cried out to Him, asking for His mercy. Some of the people in the crowd tried to make him be quiet. Think about what was going on in the minds of the people. Were they trying to hide this beggar from Jesus? After all, here was this poor, dirty, and blind beggar sitting beside the road of their fair city; was this the image they wanted visitors to remember? Reminds me of the homeless today. Nobody wants them seen on the streets of their city. Determined to be heard Bartimaeus cried out louder, “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.”
Jesus heard him and said, “Call him.” Well, when called Bartimaeus does not hesitate. He throws off his cloak and jumps to his feet and goes to Jesus. I do not know if Bartimaeus was young or old but I think that besides being blind he was probably not in the best of health. It is likely he was weak from poor nutrition and from sitting by the roadside most of the time. Just the not knowing when, or if, he would have something to eat that day or shelter that night would be enough to cause stress related illness. Yet, when he hears Jesus call he leaps up. Can you picture this man’s excitement? The anticipation and expectation he must have felt?
Then Jesus asks him a question, “What do you want me to do for you?” Was it not obvious? He was a blind man! But how like Jesus. He wants to hear from our own lips what we want. Of course, He already knows, but He wants us to come to Him, open our heart, be honest, and tell Him what we want.
Bartimaeus tells Him, “Let me recover my sight.” “Go your way, your faith has made you well,” Jesus responds. Immediately Bartimaeus can see and he followed Him on the way.
There are a few things that I have learned in the reading of this story:
- In five of the nine translations I read, the text reads that he “recovered or regained” his sight. I think Bartimaeus may not have always been blind, there may have been a time when he could see.
- When Jesus tells him to “Go on your way” He is telling him to not go back to the side of the road–he is to go–be on his way–leave the past.
- Jesus tells him that “his faith has made him well”. Bartimaeus went to Jesus in faith–he knew Jesus–he did not need seeing eyes to know Jesus.
- He followed Jesus on His way. I do not know if this means that he literally followed Jesus that day. Possibly it means that he followed the “way of Jesus” as we do today.
Mark 10:46-52, just seven verses that tell a man’s story, past, present, and future. It can be the story of every person. Where are you in the story of you?
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. Mark 10:51
I wonder what the people in the crowd thought–they did tell Bartimaeus to be quiet.
I wonder why Bartimaeus threw off his cloak. Was he throwing off anything that would hinder him–did he know that he would receive far more than what he left?
I wonder at his spontaneity–he throws, he leaps, he immediately follows!