Today we’re reading the wonderful account of the cure of the blind man, Bartimaeus. The scene takes place along the road passing through the city of Jericho. It was part of a system of highways connecting what is today’s Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. Merchants traveled along it, as did armies and, as on this occasion, pilgrims going to Jerusalem for the great feast days.
The city was a wealthy, flourishing oasis about fifteen miles from Jerusalem. The ministry at the Temple in Jerusalem was maintained by a rotating system of service comprising twenty-six groups of priests and Levites. Many priests and Levites chose to live there because of its proximity to Jerusalem.
The crowd in Jericho that day included the regular population, resident priests and Levites, and many pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem for the Passover. Jesus, a well -known rabbi, was journeying to Jerusalem for the feast. It would be his last Passover. During it, he would be betrayed and crucified.
As was the custom, rabbis, like 2 Jesus, would preach as they walked along with their disciples. People would gather around the group to catch a bit of the rabbi’s message. As this crowd moved along the road a blind beggar, Bartimaeus, was told that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. He immediately began causing a commotion. He kept shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity one me.”
People in the crowd tried to quiet him down so that they could hear Jesus, but at the same time what Bartimaeus was shouting was disturbing. He was shouting a Messianic acclamation: “Son of David.” That little phrase, was declaring that Jesus was the Messiah. The priests and Levites, the conservative leadership that was hostile to Jesus, most certainly took note of Bartimaeus and the people’s reaction to what he was shouting. However, Jesus heard him, and called him to come forward. A wonderful moment followed.
“What do you want me to do for you?” “Master, I want to see.” Ironically, Bartimaeus was the only person out of the entire crowd who could see. Though he was blind, his faith allowed him to see that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus then said the most remarkable thing to him. “Go on your way; your faith has saved you.” Jesus’ question had touched something deep inside him that saved him. It gave him a new life.
Yes, Bartimaeus could suddenly see, and that was wonderful, but his insightful, faith-filled testimony, “Son of David,” had testified that he was ready for a mission. Mark tells us that “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.”
The phrase “followed him on the way” has a duel meaning here. Christians were originally called, “followers of the way.” By using this phrase Mark was announcing that Bartimaeus was now a disciple. But it was also intimating that he had accepted a profound and challenging mission. He was going to follow Jesus to Jerusalem.
Jesus, I want to see. I want you to be the Lord of my life. I want to trust you, to put my life in your hands. I want to follow you. Free my heart of any and all hesitation. I want so much to be able to follow you along the path you’ve chosen for me. Heal me that I may see you leading the way. Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.