as retold by Tanja Cilia
Matthew 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43 Mark 10:46-52
You will remember we mentioned Jericho, that place with wonderful gardens and world-famous date palms, when we spoke about Zacchaeus. In fact, this story happened just before the one where Jesus met Zacchaeus. In this story we see Jesus called “The Son of David” for the first time – Jesus accepts this title, and we know that it is a reference to the fact that Our Saviour had to come from the House of David.
Bartimeus was a blind man who also lived in Jericho; he spent his days begging for food or money with which to buy it. At the time, it was a common thing to see beggars out in the street – there were no such things as pensions or insurances.
Mark and Luke tell us that one of the two blind people whom Jesus cured was called Bartimaeus; perhaps they knew him, or his father Timeus (Bartimeus means “Son of Timeus” like we would say Johnson), or perhaps the people told them who he was. The other beggar was an “also-ran”, and I have no doubt that he, too, could see again when Jesus laid His hands on him.
Jesus, His disciples and many people arrived in Jericho. They heard a commotion, and realized that Jesus was being called upon to perform a miracle. But since the men who needed Jesus were not “important” in society, they were being told to be quiet and not interrupt Jesus and waste His time.
Now there are plenty of things to think about in this story. Bartimeus was a poor beggar, and this means he did not have many possessions. When he heard the hubbub made by the people who regularly followed Jesus, he asked what the matter was. The people told him that Jesus was near, and so he “took off his cloak” and went towards Him. He needed his one and only cloak, to use as a sunshade, an umbrella, and blanket at night – and yet he cast it off because it would slow down his progress as he ran towards the Lord. Bartimeus had faith – he knew that Jesus would cure him – but he had to make his presence known to Him, first! The beggars wanted Jesus to open their eyes – which here means to give them sight – and so they grasped the opportunity that came their way.
If you read the story, you will see how the people tried to stop Bartimeus from shouting out. You sometimes get people, even these days, who do not want others to be better than themselves. As it was, they thought Bartimeus was “worse off” than they, because he did not have the sense of sight.
But funnily enough, when they saw that Jesus wanted to speak with Bartimeus and his friend, they changed their tune. They told him “Cheer up! He wants to talk to you – go!”
Why do you think that Jesus asked the blind man what he wanted? Jesus knew the answer to that question already – but he wanted the man to ask him specifically, just as He wants us to call on Him and pray to Him with our needs. If Bartimeus did not believe that Jesus had the power to cure him, he would not have told him “I want to see!” He would have said something like “If you can do it…”
In fact, Jesus told Bartimeus “Go! Your faith has made you well…” and sure enough, Bartimeus could now see perfectly, and he joined the throng that was following Jesus on the road. All the people praised Jesus when they saw the wonderful miracle that had happened in front of their eyes.