“They came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (the son of Timaeus), a blind beggar, was sitting by the road. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many wanted him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, ‘Have mercy on me, Son of David!'” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Have you ever really wanted something? What was it? What did you do about it? Did you eventually get it? What did you have to sacrifice for it? We all have things we want. Sometimes we want them badly; badly enough that we are willing to do the work and make the sacrifices necessary to get them. For a man named Bartimaeus, he wanted something more than he’d ever wanted anything before in his life. Fortunately for him, he was in the right place, went to the right person, and wouldn’t stop clamoring until he got it.
Jesus was making the final leg of His journey to Jerusalem. He had visited Jericho and was finally ready to set everything that was about to unfold into motion. As we’ll start talking about tomorrow, once He rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, there was no turning back anymore. His disciples and the group following Him still didn’t understand all that was coming (in spite of, at least in the case of the disciples, His having told them exactly what was coming multiple times including just a few days earlier), but they knew something was happening. Jesus was different. He was more focused. He seemed to be carrying a heavier burden than usual. They didn’t know why this trip was different, but that it was was a feeling they couldn’t shake.
The result of this sense of destiny was that an even larger crowd than usual was following Jesus as He headed toward the city early that morning. There was a buzz of excitement in the air. You could probably hear the dull roar of the electrified crowd from quite a distance. Their animated din eventually came to the sharp ears of Bartimaeus. His ears were sharpened by the lack of the complementary sense of sight. His historical nickname “Blind Bartimaeus” rolls smoothly off the tongue.
Alerted to the coming of something significant, he immediately began asking the other beggars around him about the source of all the commotion. Eventually they figured it out: Jesus of Nazareth was coming their way. All of the beggars gathered there in hopes of taking advantage of the religious sympathies of worshipers heading toward the temple and looking to earn a few more credits with God before arriving all began to shout for alms as was their custom. But Bartimaeus wasn’t worried about that. He had something bigger and better in mind. He had heard about this Jesus of Nazareth. What’s more, he believed the stories. He didn’t cry for alms, he cried out for Jesus. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
At first the crowd ignored him as they did all the beggars, but his cries were louder, more earnest, and more insistent than all the rest. As the bulk of the crowd began passing by, most of the beggars quieted down to save their voices for the next group of travelers. But not Bartimaeus. He continued crying out at the top of his lungs. He would not be ignored. He knew Jesus could do something more to help him than tossing a few coins in his bowl. After a time, the other beggars tried to quiet him down. People in the crowd following Jesus tried as well. “The Teacher has passed by. Stop shouting and wait for the next group. Perhaps they will have something for you.” Yet he remained undeterred. He continued crying until something unexpected happened. Jesus stopped. And the crowd with Him.
The next thing Bartimaeus knew, people were calling his name. But they were not telling him to quiet down any longer. Now they were telling him to get up. Jesus had called for him. With legs weak and hands shaking with excitement, Bartimaeus let them lead him to the feet of Jesus. Then, he heard the sweetest words he had ever heard in his life. Jesus looked at him and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
He had been waiting for this moment since he first heard about Jesus and felt something stir in his heart at the name. He had rehearsed his response a thousand times in his head. He knew exactly what words he wanted to choose, but was so excited he almost couldn’t get them out. Finally, as the crowd waited with baited breath, Bartimaeus spoke: “I want to see.”
Then came the pause. It was only a second, but it felt like an eternity. How would Jesus respond? What would He do? What would be the result of Bartimaeus’ boldness? “Jesus said to him, ‘Go, your faith has saved you.'” Immediately Bartimaeus was overwhelmed with a sensation he hadn’t experienced in so long he couldn’t even remember it any longer. Light. He was overwhelmed by light. The darkness was gone. His brain was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of data it was receiving all at once. But as the synapses that had been dormant from disuse began to shake off the dust and sent the appropriate signals to the appropriate places, the light resolved into an image. It was the image of a man smiling at him with a twinkle in his eyes. They looked at each other for a moment, and then Jesus turned to continue on the road to Jerusalem. Bartimaeus had a whole world of opportunity in front of him, but there was only one thing that made any sense to do. He joined in the crowd and followed Jesus to wherever He was going.
This is a great story. It’s a reminder of the fact that Jesus had compassion on the people who least expected it. He brought dignity and honor to places most people overlooked entirely. Beyond that, though, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of application for us except for this one little thing: When we are seeking Jesus, if we will keep right on seeking Him in spite of any and all obstacles and discouragements that try and stop us, we will find the object of our searching. Those who seek after Jesus with their whole heart will find Him. If you seek after Jesus with your whole heart, you will find Him. And when you do, you’ll be able to see as you never have before. So seek after the Lord. And when you find Him, start following. You’ll be glad you did.