As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
“Go,” said Jesus, “Your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
This story has intrigued me for some time. Going blind was a fear of mine since I was young. My optometrist told my mom when I was 13 that I could be legally blind by 18 if I didn’t get contacts to slow the deterioration of my vision. It worked, at ….somewhat older than 18….. I can still see, as long as I have my contacts in, but the fear has lingered. Therefore, the stories of Jesus healing the blind have always drawn me. This story attracts me especially, because Bartimaeus is one of the few names we have of those that were healed. The gospels of Matthew and Luke tell this story as well. They don’t mention the man’s name, but add some other details.
The main part of the story remains consistent. Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road begging, when Jesus comes by, he calls out for mercy. The crowd tries to silence him, but he calls out louder. Jesus has compassion on him and calls him closer and heals him. In Matthew 20, there are two men and Jesus heals them by touching their eyes. Luke 18 adds that he followed Jesus praising God.
I have begun writing Bartimaeus’ story using details from all three gospels. To me, Bart is a man who had been born blind and has accepted his lot in life. He has taken a boy under his wing who has slowly lost his vision over his youth until he can he can see light and dark, but little else. On the day that they meet Jesus, Bart and the boy have to find their way through the city of Jericho without the benefit of their usual guide. Bart manages well enough until they reach the marketplace. They need to get across relying on their wits and their remaining senses. Can they do it? What happens to make Bartimaeus so desperate for healing?
Tune in next time for more….