“Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:51-52 NRSV)
Jericho. Galilee is in Jesus’ rear view mirror. He can almost see Jerusalem ahead of him. Jerusalem and betrayal and denial and trial and death. It’s out there waiting for him. It won’t be long.
He’s been teaching and preaching and healing for a long time. The more his disciples learn, the more confused they become. Here, in Jericho, another lesson awaits them.
Bartimaeus means, “Son of Honor.” He’s blind. We don’t know how it happened or when. All we know is that he’s probably an honorable man from an honorable family. Daily he sits by the roadside begging.
Then he hears that Jesus is in town. He’s leaving today, though. Bartimaeus has one chance to catch Jesus’ attention. So he positions himself on that road that leads out of Jericho towards Jerusalem. As he hears Jesus approach, he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Son of David. This is the first time Mark has used this description. Son of David: Bartimaeus understands Jesus’ role as Messiah. But, he and his followers are blinded by this, as well, because they’re unable to see Jesus in a new and different light. This Messiah doesn’t arrive in a suit of armor riding stallion.
Bartimaeus is creating a scene with his obnoxious yelling. “Hush up! Jesus is leaving town. He’s tired. Give him a break.” “Would you please be quiet!?!”
But, this is his last chance. With every fiber of his being, he calls out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! Help me!”
Jesus hears him. He stops. He looks toward the source of the yelling. His focus is on Bartimaeus; not the crowd’s attempt to push Bartimaeus further back to the fringes of society; nor their rudeness toward him. He lets them be, for now. They’re about to receive an eye-opening lesson on discipleship.
“Call him here.”
Suddenly, the crowd changes its demeanor. “Come on,” they tell Bartimaeus. “Have courage. Take heart. He’s calling you.”
“They don’t have to tell him twice! He bounces up and throws off his cloak. He throws off his old way of life; his security; his everything. Whatever Jesus has in store for him, he’s ready.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Now, suppose Jesus asked you that question right now. What would your response be? Would you have an immediate request? Or would you need to think about it?
Bartimaeus has had plenty of time to think about it. “My teacher. Rabbouni. Savior. Let me see again.”
Let me see the world that I once knew so well. Let me see the world through new eyes, with fresh insight. Let me see the world through your eyes: the hurting world, the joyous creation, the evil that would tear it down. Let me see again.
A couple of weeks ago a rich man approached Jesus wanting salvation. Jesus saw that his wealth and his possessions were holding him back from a relationship with God. So he told him: Go. Sell all your possessions. Give the money to the poor. Come. Follow me. (Mark10:17-22)
Go. Sell. Give. Come. Follow.
This time, he only says, “Go. Your faith has made you well.”
How about you? Are you needing to go, sell, give, come and follow? Is your faith being interrupted by wealth or anger or any number of other things that get between you and God? Or do you simply need to go, because your faith is healing you? I don’t know about you, but it depends on what’s going on in my life. Sometimes I need to Go and Sell. Others times, I’m ready to serve my Lord.
Bartimaeus is ready. He follows Jesus “on the way.”
Maybe he followed Jesus to Jerusalem. He may have been one of those who fled from the cross.
Or, maybe he remained in Jericho, leading a community of followers of The Way.
Either scenario or others are possible. While we don’t know how he led his life, we can be sure that his eyes saw. They wept the day Jesus died. They wept with joy at news of his resurrection.
And through all this he saw: both physically and spiritually.
All glory and honor be to God.