Rev. Regina Davis-Sowers, PhD
Mark 10:46-53: (See also Matthew 20:29-34 and Luke 18: 35-43) They came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me!” Many people told him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, “Have mercy on me, Son of David!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up; He’s calling for you. He threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” “Rabbouni,” the blind man told Him, “I want to see!” “Go your way,” Jesus told him. “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he could see and began to follow Him on the road.
The healing of the blind man, Bartimeaus, is interesting in contrast to the story just before it, in which the disciples made a request of Jesus that was purely about being great, by receiving personal glory and places of honor in the Kingdom of God. They prove that, while they were physically able to see, they were spiritually blind, not being able to “see” what and who Jesus really was. In contrast, blind Bartimaeus demonstrated that while he was physically blind, he was spiritually able to “see” Jesus as Messiah and healer.
Bartimaeus was a beggar, and because blindness was thought to be caused by the parents’ sins or the person’s own sins (John 9:1-12), he was an outcast. His asked for alms beside the road from Jericho and Jerusalem. One day, he heard the noise of a great crowd, and he asked what was happening. When told that Jesus of Nazareth was going by, he started shouting to get Jesus’s attention. Bartimaeus knew not only who Jesus was, calling him “Son of David,” but also that Jesus was a healer who was known to be merciful to those outcast and marginalized by society.
But, Jesus and the disciples were accompanied by a crowd that approached Bartimeaus with indifference and hostility, telling him to be quiet, meaning for him, a beggar and outcast, to stop annoying Jesus with his shouting. But, Bartimaeus ignores them, shouting louder and showing the kind of boldness with which we must come to the throne of God for help in our hour of need. Jesus showed a very different reaction to Bartimeaus than the crowd with Him, for when He heard him shouting His name, acknowledging His Messianic calling, and asking for mercy, Jesus knew here was a man with the kind of faith that Jesus loved to see. He stopped and, as related by Luke, told the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him.
Bartimaeus jumped up, threw off his cloak, and went to Jesus with respect and awe, calling him, Rabboni. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, his answer was significantly different from the disciples, for he did not ask for riches or honor, but simply to see. Jesus noted his faith and said, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly, Bartimaeus received his sight, and he began following Jesus. Luke tells us that Bartimaeus also praised God, and then the crowd began to praise God.
So, when troubles come, do not be timid, but approach the throne of God with boldness and faith, knowing that God hears and answers prayers. Even when others try to tell you to pray softly and only once, simply ignore them, open your mouth up, and shout as loud as you can, over and over again. It will not make Jesus answer any sooner, but it will remind you that Jesus is there listening and preparing to intervene on your behalf. Also, be specific regarding what you want God to do in your life! Jesus knew what Bartimaeus needed, but he asked him what he wanted him to do for him. Lastly, don’t be spiritually blind through ignorance; instead, study the Scriptures, so that you know who God is, and just how merciful, compassionate, and loving His Son has been to the lost, the outcast, and the marginalized, even giving His life as a ransom for all, including you and me.
Thank you for being available to hear our requests. I know that You already know what we need, but that You are waiting for us to tell you. I will not ask you for riches or greatness, understanding that I must be prepared always to serve, rather than be served. I surrender my life to You today, O Lord, my Redeemer and Savior. Thank you for Your Word which reminds me through the beautiful stories of Your goodness and mercy in the land of the living. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.