46 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. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
While Bartimaeus is mocked, he is unwilling to be quiet. He knows what he needs and he chases it.
48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to be blind. Not to see the colours of spring, the smile on your wife’s face, your child’s first steps. To rely on the kindness of strangers for the simplest of tasks, begging for a living, day after day, year after year. All his life, Bartimaeus has lived on the mercy of others. He has relied on their help, their food, their hand downs and cast offs. He has felt unworthy, judged and less than human. Luckily perhaps, he has not seen the disgust on the faces of those who pass his patch of pavement each day but his sensitive hearing probably heard their complaints.
Maybe he overheard that Jesus was coming or maybe in the commotion someone stopped and told him. He had heard the stories of this amazing man, had heard some of the claims and wondered if they might be true. Well no one was going to stop him from finding out! “Son of David, have mercy on me,” he cried out.
Mercy. Something he had relied on all his life. Something the crowds didn’t give when they told him to quiet down. Mercy. Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve. Bartimaeus didn’t feel like he deserved healing but wanted it desperately. So he cried out with all he had.
Bartimaeus has three important qualities in this story: boldness, persistence and faith.
While Bartimaeus is mocked, he is unwilling to be quiet. He knows what he needs and he chases it. He speaks up to gain reward. How often are we willing to represent Christ in the face of mockery? I know I have not been bold at times when asked about what I do or who I represent. Instead of being proud to be Christian I have muttered it through or said it in such a way that it is ambiguous. We must be bold in our weaknesses, knowing that we must bring them to the Saviour for healing. We must be bold in our representation of Him and we must be bold in claiming His promises.
Bartimaeus didn’t give up. Is there someone you are trying to reach out to, to introduce them to the kingdom of God? Are you yourself struggling right now to know God’s will, or even know God, or is it with others you are struggling? Persevere. Bartimaeus did and received his sight.
Finally we must have faith. Jesus claims that Bartimaeus’ faith healed him. Didn’t Jesus heal him? Wasn’t it the power of God? We don’t have power to heal ourselves do we? I think Jesus is reminding us to persevere in our faith like Bartimaeus—to have faith that things can change. Healing will come, God will step in. Hang in there and have faith.
After he was healed, Bartimaeus does what many didn’t. He follows. He doesn’t want to let Jesus out of his new-found sight. He doesn’t want to stay in the place he received healing but wants to journey on with His Saviour. And he brings these three crucial qualities to his discipleship. Boldness, perseverance and faith. I pity the man who doubted Jesus’ legitimacy in front of Bartimaeus later. I can just see him saying, “Really? You think that? Well listen to this. . .”