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Blind Bartimaeus

April 2013 | by Ron Thwaites


Why did Jesus go through Jericho (Mark 10:46-52)? It was a city under a curse! (Joshua 6:26). Surely he did so for the same reason he came to this sin-cursed earth (Genesis 3:17): he knew that sinners needed him.

A tax collector though wealthy needed something more than this world could give, as did blind men whose only hope of a living was to beg.

     The crowd had heard about Jesus. Now they turned out to see and hear him for themselves. Then a cry rang out from the road side, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me’.

     Here we come to a most wonderful statement in the text: ‘Jesus stood still’ (Mark 10:49)! The one who together with the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2) created the universe was passing through the world he had made, yet at the cry of a poor, blind beggar, despised by others, he stood still.

     What was it that halted Jesus? The clue lies in his name as given by the angel: ‘Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’.

     By his cry for mercy, Bartimaeus acknowledged himself to be a sinner. He did not ask for justice; that would have shut himself eternally from the presence of a holy God. But he asked for mercy.

     He called Christ the ‘Son of David’. Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees denied that Jesus is the Son of God, but they never questioned his descent from David. Otherwise Jesus could have said, ‘Look at the temple records’. In spite of the Jewish captivity in Babylon and Medo-Persia, the records had been somehow preserved, as mentioned in the book of Nehemiah.  

Faith leading to sight

If Israel had not become a vassal of Rome, Jesus would not have been known as son of a carpenter, but as heir to the throne of Judah. His descent was through Solomon and Joseph, and through David’s other son Nathan, and then Mary.

     But that was not the purpose of his coming. He did not come to be an earthly dictator (1 Samuel 8:11-22), but in love to reconcile man to God.

     With Jesus’ call for Bartimaeus, the crowd stopped telling Bartimaeus to be quiet and said, ‘Rise, he’s calling for you’.

     Discarding his cloak (it was probably tattered anyway), Bartimaeus hastened to Jesus, a picture of what was happening to him internally. In another place, Jesus said, ‘No man can come to me except the Father draw him’ (John 6:44).

     Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and we need the robe of his righteousness. We need not just a changed nature, but Christ himself. By faith we ‘put on’ Jesus Christ.

     Jesus asked Bartimaeus, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Back came his answer, ‘Lord that I may receive my sight’.

     Jesus replied, ‘Your faith has made you well’.

     We need to believe to receive. Bartimaeus knew the trees were there, he’d bumped into them; he knew the flowers were there, he could smell them; he could hear the birds sing, but he wanted to see them. But when his eyes were opened, the first thing that he saw was the face of Jesus!

            He followed Jesus in the way. He didn’t sit back lethargically saying that all was now well, but he followed Jesus. Conversion isn’t an end, but a new beginning, leading to a life of service and fellowship with God.

Ron Thwaites




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