God’s People, part 204: Bartimaeus

Read Mark 10:46-52

“After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matthew 9:27, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Blind-Bartimaeus-topazPart 204: Bartimaeus. The account of Bartimaeus is another account that features a miraculous healing that is preceded by the surrounded people getting it wrong. We don’t know a whole lot about Bartimaeus other than a few simple facts. That very fact tells us everything that we need to know about him.

Mark tells us that Bartimaeus was blind. As has been written prior to this devotion, blindness was seen as a curse. If someone was blind, it meant that God allowed such a malady to befall that person. If someone was born blind it meant that the sins of that person’s parents or their grandparents had passed on to him or her. After all, God clearly stated in Exodus 34:7, “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.”

Mark also tells us that Bartimaeus is a beggar, which means that he had no one to take care of him. We are told that he is the “son of Timaeus”, so that gives us the clue that the people in Jericho knew this man and his family; however, his family is nowhere to be found in the account. There’s just the brief mention of Bartimaeus’s parentage.

Perhaps Bartimaeus’ family abandoned him to his fate on the streets. Perhaps they were impoverished and had him begging for extra money. Perhaps they had passed away and he resorted to begging because he had no one left to care for him. Whatever the case may be, Bartimaeus was there begging when Jesus passed by, just like he had done every day prior.

The crowd, of course, knew Bartimaeus and his loud cries for money. When Bartimaeus cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” all they heard was “Give me money, give me money!” Yet, that is not what he had said. What’s more amazing is that this blind man knew exactly who Jesus was. He was the Messiah, the Son of David. Bartimaeus was not asking for money, he was asking for mercy. In other words, he was begging for forgiveness to the One who could grant it. This is not to say that he was blind because of his sin; however, Bartimaeus knew in his heart that Jesus was from God and that he needed his help.

The crowds tried to silence him, but he would not be silenced. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus called him over and asked him what he wanted from Jesus, “I want to see,” he proclaimed and Jesus gave him his sight back. Why did his sight return? Jesus answered that when he said, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” In other words, this man recognized God in Jesus and he humbled himself before God. He had faith in Jesus and it was that faith through which the healing came.

The twist in all of this is that here is another situation where the blind man is the one who ACTUALLY sees, while the others are ACTUALLY blinded to who Christ really is. Bartimaeus may not have known Jesus’ identity as the Son of God properly speaking, he doesn’t quite acknowledge that; however, he does acknowledge Jesus as the Son of David, the one sent to Israel by God.

The challenge is for us to pray that we might have our eyes opened to see Jesus for who he actually is. We often approach him like the crowd, hoping he can serve us in some way or another. We should be approaching Christ the way Bartimaeus did, humbly crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, Son of God, have mercy on us”. We should be humbling ourselves before the One who has brought salvation to humanity through his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave! Let us approach Christ in humility and give our lives over to him.

Blindness comes in more forms than just physical.

Lord, have mercy on us. Restore our sight to us so that we might see your glory and share your love with all people. Amen.

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