The journey south to Jerusalem brings Jesus and the disciples to the city of Jericho, a large crowd in their wake. Our familiarity with what happens can cloud its remarkable content.
An insignificant beggar outside the city is the one who truly ‘sees’ who Jesus is (Jesus’ identity being a constant theme in Mark). The restoration of his sight is literal but also an indication of his ‘spiritual insight’.
But it is Bartimaeus who identifies Jesus as the Son of David – a Messianic title. He knows Jesus is the one in whom the hopes of Israel rest. It is Bartimaeus who confidently trusts that Jesus can heal him, he knows Jesus is empowered by God. It is Bartimaeus who enthusiastically follows the Messiah up the ascent through the Judean wilderness towards Jerusalem and all that awaited there.
What is left unexplained is how Bartimaeus ‘saw’ what others were blind to. The response of the Messiah is to welcome a marginalised, poor, insignificant and apparently annoying distraction as one of his followers. Such is the surprising grace of God, a grace that extends to you and to me.
Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight
46Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (that is, the Son of Timaeus), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
48Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
52“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.