Read: Mark 10:46-52
Today we’ll read the familiar story of another bold person that is miraculously healed by Jesus. This is the last healing recorded by John Mark as he is about to shift gears and focus on the final days of Jesus’s earthly ministry.
Passover is coming–the HUGE festival that attracts thousands of faithful followers as they make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to honor God. It’s hard for me to appreciate what’s happening in the scene because I haven’t walked this particular route. From what I understand, the Jews would avoid Samaria as they made their way to Jerusalem. This meant they would pass through Jericho on this common route to make their way up to the great city.
It’s literally an uphill road from Jericho to Jerusalem. This means the people will have to slow down a bit as they make their journey. If you’re a street vendor, this is prime opportunity to take advantage of the crowds of people walking slowly along. If you’re a beggar, it’s a bonanza you don’t want to miss!
For Bartimaeus, this is his chance to get ahead and collect more money for the coming months of darkness that surround him.
With those thoughts in mind, let’s look at the story John Mark chose to share with us just before Jesus enters Jerusalem.
To begin with, John Mark provides the man’s name. He’s not just the blind or lame man or even a rich man who is previously unnamed–this man has a name: Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”). He’s not a nobody. There’s a certain level of dignity gained by calling someone by name. At The LOT Project, the friends who enter are given a simple name tag and we are encouraged to talk with them, calling them by name. It matters. You’re not just a nameless person, you’ve been adopted into a royal priesthood. You have a name.
Bartimaeus may not be able to see, but he has heard about this man, Jesus, and no doubt heard the marvelous works He has done. This is more than he ever hoped for. This day, Jesus of Nazareth is crossing his path. Excitement wells up inside him and he can’t contain himself:
When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Mark 10:47
Images of crowded streets come to mind as the disciples try to manage those clambering to see Jesus or merely make their way along. As I’m writing this, I hear the noise, see faces of people caught up in their own personal business of being busy, making their way along, minding the children, watching their steps. It’s chaotic and it’s somewhat oppressing as more and more people make their way along. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. I’m sure I would be thinking, it’s noisy enough, then this blind guy starts going bonkers. Someone get the safety team in place, we have a situation here!
Jesus, of course, sees through it all. We recall the words from Isaiah:
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.
Bartimaeus may have heard Isaiah 46 read in the temple for however many years he ambled around the villages. Could this be the day that his darkness is turned to light?
Jesus tells His disciples to call Bartimaeus. Hold everything, the Master will see you Bartimaeus, this is your lucky day! I’m really not exaggerating, look what they said:
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Mark 10:49
Bartimaeus leaves nothing behind as he leaps to his feet. I love the scene that’s playing in my head, I hope you have something similar running through your mind as he moves quickly to encounter Jesus.
The stage is set. Time stops for a moment and the noise of the crowd seems to quiet down when Jesus asks him a rather simple question: “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51
When confronted by the Messiah, Bartimaeus has one simple desire: he just wants to see.
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:52
Leaving everything behind, Bartimaeus is healed and follows Jesus. No warnings about telling people. No spit applied twice. Time begins again and the noise rises as they continue along their way to Jerusalem.
Here’s the thought: Are you clambering to see Jesus? Will you unashamedly move through the crowds of your day and make your way to Jesus?
When you seek Him and find Him, as He promised, what will you ask for? Do you have enough faith to receive it?