Blind Bartimaeus Meets Jesus Matthew 20:29-34 Mark 10:46-52
Updated: Feb 1
Bartimaeus and I like to stay near the city gates of Jericho. Our chances of gathering alms were greater in cities like this one. The resort town being like an oasis of pleasure in the Judean desert not far from the Jordan River crossing receives many wealthy visitors. Herod the Great built up the metropolis, and it was an attraction. We could also hear a lot of chatter as people updated those who greeted them at the gates. Bartimaeus, being blind since birth always knows the best practice for all the things that we need; he is wise and always looks out for me. I can just imagine all that Bartimaeus could have accomplished if he wasn't born blind. Instead, we waste our life away without purpose or any dignity begging for a mite or piece of bread. No one can see the value in what we can do, but instead we are useless without our sight. I would have died long ago if he didn't allow me to stay at his side. He always listens intently to passersby and then in the evening hours he shares all the stories with me. He adds some extra details for me to imagine it all in my head as he does.
Day after day, we hunger and beg for alms from our ground spot in the shade. For the last few hours, we could hear a lot more people entering the town at a rushed pace. Bartimaeus seeks what the commotion is by grabbing the foot of a young boy yelling as he rushes by. He explains that a man called Jesus from Nazareth who has the ability to heal the sick is in this town. People are calling him a prophet, and suspected to be the long awaited messiah from the royal lineage of David. Who is this man? How could we get to him if no one leads us to him? Could this be the answer to our prayers?
The hot dusty road that leads to the gate started to get very crowded in mere minutes to the point that Bartimaeus reached out and grabbed for me so as not to be separated as people jostled us further into the cool shadows of the wall. The cacophony of the crowd leads us to believe that this one named Jesus is near. Bartimaeus suspected the man of God is coming down the road towards us, but the deafening crowd made it disorienting and the wall of people suffocated us in the heat.
Then suddenly Bartimaeus repeatedly shouts out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
So, I joined him, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" The crowd is so irritated with our cries in their ears, so they try to stop us. I feel a whap on my back. But Bartimaeus refuses to give up the plea to be touched by Jesus and continues to yell even louder, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Suddenly we are told," Be of good cheer. Rise. He is calling you." Bartimaeus throws off the encumbering garment and gropes for my hands so as not to leave me behind. Guided to Jesus, we weave through the crowd toward the teacher.
Jesus warmly, respectfully and humbly asks Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?"
We fall to our knees and center our faces towards his words, "Rabboni, that our eyes may be opened."
Jesus replied as he reached his hands towards us, " Receive your sight; your faith has made you well."
That immediate moment our eyes open and our hearts fill with gratitude. Bartimaeus and I just glorify God and the crowds raise praises to God as well. All that we desire is to learn more from Jesus Our lives are forever touched by his grace and mercy.
Questions for Reflection:
Do we struggle with how we view ourselves as to how we are accepted by another or others around us?
Do you think that Bartimaeus had a purpose even in his weakened state?
How persistent and tenacious are we in seeking to be given a touch from Jesus? Do we remember to ask for our eyes to be opened to the spiritual truth of where we are lacking or handicapped with our character (anger, impatience, rudeness, greedy, prideful, unkindness)?
Do we see all people as valuable and precious to know and love? Do we struggle with some "unlovable" people who seem to be an annoyance to us or for in some towns, the poor are plentiful and may have placed up their tents too close to where you may live?
This account is recorded in Matthew 20:29-34, Luke 18:35-43 and in Mark 10:45-53
Matthew records his book as an eyewitness being that he was one of the apostles, whereas Luke and Mark were not. Luke, being a physician and highly educated, carefully and comprehensively covers the life of Jesus through no doubt interviewing many people to gather the accounts accurately. Mark was part of the early church, raised in a wealthy household, educated and nephew/cousin to Barnabus (a notable person in the book of Acts after the resurrection-Colossians 4:10), and close friends with Peter (1Peter 5:13) through travels recorded in the book of Acts. The book of Mark has been nicknamed the Gospel according to Peter since he was probably Mark's main source of information. In Mark we learn one of the blind men was named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus.
With this being said, it could be extrapolated that Bartimaeus became friends with Mark.
All the recordings end with Bartimaeus and the other blind man following Jesus after they received sight. This would be short lived, for in the next day or two Jesus enters Jerusalem in the Triumphal entry (Jesus rides the colt into town and people wave the palm branches and lay cloaks over the path - a welcoming for a king) which is followed by the next week with the crucifixion. Bartimaeus apparently became instrumental in the early church to have met Mark. He was given a new lease in life with great purpose. One touch from Jesus will give anyone a new lease on life with fresh purpose.
Interesting how blind beggars could see the messiah and yet they were blind...and their eyes were opened.
Yet, the Pharisees could see and yet blind to who the messiah was before them. Their eyes stayed blinded with pride and self- preservation of their holy position.
We know from the scriptures that Jesus referring to himself states, a Good Shepherd will leave the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep for all are important, and he doesn't want to lose even one. (Luke 15:3-7, Matthew 18:12-14) We also know that God is not "a respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34) (showing partiality) meaning he doesn't honor a king's value more than a poor beggar's value. Even upon the saying to John the Baptist, "I tell you the truth, among those born to women, there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Jesus clearly teaches the value of everyone despite their status being important to him, and it is displayed in this account of the two blind men. Where God sees the forsaken men finding "a walk with Jesus later in their life" a harder hurdle to jump than one being raised and taught from birth to follow righteousness, and it is honored greatly in God's sight. In the parable of the lost sheep, Luke continues to record Jesus saying, "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
Bartimaeus' kindness and love for his companion must have touched Jesus. Since two of the recordings stress only one person and that being Bartimaeus, it could be assumed that he was the predominant one to get Jesus' attention. It must have taken courage to yell above the crowd despite their annoyance towards him. He persisted and was tenacious to receive a touch from Jesus. We see that Jesus stopped to listen and welcomed them. We too must see that we should be persistent to find Jesus in the cacophony of life, and to be tenacious about desiring his touch. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Despite the ridicule that we might receive for trusting in God from those around us - be of good courage!
Bartimaeus achieved standing before Jesus with his calling; we too are beckoned to come to Jesus for a touch. He will stop all that is around him to listen to what you have to tell him. Your Faith will make you well.
Jesus said multiple times, "He who has ears, listen."
We would do well to listen for it saved Bartimaeus from living out the rest of his life in misery.
"Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Read the account as it is recorded in the Bible: