Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. - Mark 10:46-52
Imagine for a moment that you are Bartimeous in this story. You are blind and homeless. You live in Israel, the Holy Nation of God, and yet no one has been able to help your condition. I’d have to imagine your faith in God had been tested severely throughout your life. You hear stories of God working in the lives of others, and yet here you are, a blind beggar. Why does God seem to help everyone except you? All of these thoughts would have been quite expected for someone in Bartimeous’ position.
Then imagine hearing that Jesus of Nazareth is passing by. You have heard rumors about this Jesus, rumors that he could be the Anointed One of God, proclaimed in the Scriptures to save the people of Israel. Could this really be the Messiah, the Savior from the line of David? You haven’t much of an education, you don’t know the Scriptures like the Pharisees do, but with the faith of a child you scream out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” You’re scolded by others around you. No. The One all of Israel has been awaiting for centuries is finally here, He deserves my worship! You scream out again. This time you are told that Jesus has called you! You cannot contain your excitement. It is as if your whole life has been a projectile missile aiming toward this very moment.
The Teacher asks you, “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Rabbi, I want to see,” you plead, bowing at the Master’s feet.
“Go. Your faith has healed you” Jesus commands you. You look up, and you see color for the first time. Imagine the feeling of darkness turning to light. Of despair turning to joy. Of blindness turning to sight.
We would be remiss to read this story as merely that of a lucky man who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Of course it can be read that way. And that is the way most will read it. But let’s go deeper.
Bartimeous begins this story as a lowly, pitiable man who most would have looked at as being cursed by God. He ends the story as a man who has not only gained his physical sight but gained also a personal revelation from God. No longer would he have to wonder if God was really out there. No longer would he have to wonder if God really loved him. No longer would he have to believe that his condition of blindness was a result of a curse; in this moment he would come to realize that his blindness served a purpose. For without his lifetime of blindness, how could he have experienced the glory of God?
The Pharisees by contrast, already believed themselves to have perfect vision. The result? They never asked God for the ability to see. They would die blind, while Bartimeous would live the rest of his life with his eyes fixed on his healer and deliverer, Jesus the Son of God.
What began as a curse ended as the greatest blessing of his life. We would all be wise to take notes from the blind beggar.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. - Psalm 118:22-23.