Mark10:46-48… As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, they met Bartimaeus the son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, who was sitting by the road. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many scolded him to get him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Commentary (the Compassionate Heart of God)
As Jesus entered the territory of Judah, he went into Jericho just north of the Dead Sea. Jericho was a rose among thorns, as it were, for it was a beautiful and lush city surrounded by the wasteland of the Dead Sea. Known as the city of palms, King Herod spent his winters there, for when it snowed in Jerusalem it was actually warm and pleasant in Jericho just 15 miles away.
Jericho was greatly significant, not only to the Jews, but specifically to Jesus. After all, he could trace one of his key ancestors back to that city – Rahab the harlot! She was the one who protected the spies who spied out the city for Joshua before he surrounded it (Josh. 2). Her faith in Israel’s God saved her, and she became a mother in Jesus the Messiah’s lineage (Matt. 1:5).
Blindness was common in the first century, and many blind folks congregated outside of Jericho. For one, it was a wealthy and beautiful city where many rich people came and went. And since Judaism considered it righteous to help blind beggars it’s no wonder that many of them congregated there. Second, there was also a special balsam tree that grew in Jericho. From this tree doctors extracted a chemical they used for medicinal purposes that treated blindness.
One of the blind men there, Bartimaeus, after being informed that Jesus “the Nazarene” (from Nazareth in Galilee) was passing by him, cried out to him for help. Now Jesus was more than a simple man from Nazareth to this man who obviously knew him as the “son of David.” The historian Josephus tells us that it was traditionally believed in Judaism that the Son of David had great powers of healing, so it’s possible that Bartimaeus called him such because of this belief. The “son of David,” however, was also a messianic title. When the angel Gabriel declared to the virgin Mary that a son would be born to her he told her that her Son would be “given the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). So all Jews rightly expected their Messiah to come from the offspring of David (John 7:42) who himself was a descendant of Isaac – the son of promise given to Abraham. Bartimaeus understood that Jesus was the Messiah who had healing powers.
While the blind man cried out to Jesus for mercy, the crowd told him to shut up. Their view of Jesus was that he didn’t have time for such unimportant people. But this only caused him to shout all the louder. Jesus had to have heard the man’s initial cries, but just like he did with the Syrian-Phoenician woman (7:24-30) he stalled before he answered him. This had to have been a test of the man’s faith given the way he addressed Jesus. After all, if he really knew Jesus as the son of David his faith would persist. It did, and Jesus would later turn his darkness into light.
Food for Thought
St. Augustine proposed that Mark mentioned “Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus,” by name because he had been a man of high stature who had fallen from his position through sin. Others say that the testimony of Bartimaeus was given to tell the early church how their friend had come to faith in Christ. Whatever the reason it’s clear that Bartimaeus knew he was a sinner. Why? Simply this: he cried out to Jesus for “mercy.” Maybe he thought his blindness was associated with his sins, but his willingness to cry out and make a complete fool of himself in order to be saved speaks volumes about his faith. And though Jesus had many things on his mind that day, he was never too preoccupied to be compassionate to the needy. He was never in too big a hurry, and he was never so afflicted that that he couldn’t give of himself to others. That’s our God!
Mark 10:49-52… Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man and said to him, “Have courage! Get up! He is calling you.” 50 He threw off his cloak, jumped up, and came to Jesus. 51 Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied, “Rabbi, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go, your faith has healed you.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.
While the crowd was shushing the blind man, he cried out all the louder for Jesus to hear him. He had no shame in calling for Jesus’ healing touch, and Jesus let him cry out to test his faith. At some point, however, Jesus stopped and told the crowd to bring Bartimaeus to him. It must have been a dramatic scene for Bartimaeus as some in the crowd went to him and said, “Have courage! Get up! Jesus is calling for you.” Bartimaeus wasted no time as it is certain that his adrenaline was pumping. In v. 50 he is said to have left his cloak behind and “jumped” up in order to get to Jesus as fast as he could. The “cloak” was an outer garment used as a coat in cold weather and as bedding at night. Bartimaeus likely used it during the day to bed down on. His act of casting it aside reveals that he forsook all he had in order to get to Jesus (unlike the rich man).
It’s interesting to note in v. 51 that Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Jesus to do for him. In the previous context it was James and John who told Jesus, “Teacher we want for you to do whatever we ask of you.” One wonders if Jesus was looking at James and John when he asked Bartimaeus this question. The contrast is striking. While they had been thinking only of themselves and their own glory, this man just wanted to see! While they and the rest of the disciples simply wanted to get on with the business of moving to Jerusalem where they believed Jesus would set up his kingdom, Jesus wanted to stop and help a blind beggar. They were blind to the fact that helping blind beggars and the like was in fact God’s kingdom! And when this blind beggar told Jesus he just wanted to see, the Creator of the universe suspended His natural laws and reached out to him to give him sight – an unexplainable miracle defying logic.
Now note how the healing occurred in v. 52. Jesus didn’t touch him, breath on him, or pray over him. The miracle was of the man’s own doing it seems, for Jesus told him, “Your faith has healed you.” Faith is central, not only to removing physical blindness, but to the removal of spiritual blindness. This man’s faith that Jesus simply could heal him is what actually healed him. And the blind man, after he received his sight, began to follow Jesus – the sign of true salvation. It seems that Bartimaeus received more than physical sight that day; he also received spiritual sight. John 8:12 says, “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”
Jesus never failed to heal those who came to him in faith – never! The rich young man in Mark 10:17-31 came to Jesus having everything, but he didn’t come in faith. Consequently, he left without eternal life. Bartimaeus, on the other hand, had nothing and could not see, yet his faith brought him everything. He subsequently followed Christ with sight and eternal riches.
Food for Thought
Let this story be another reminder to us of how much Jesus loved the unlovely. It didn’t matter how poor or sociologically destitute someone was. Jesus reached out to all who called to him for help. To the disciples the children and the destitute were a nuisance. To Jesus, however, they were loved. During the days when Jesus walked the earth those who had no power or kudos were cared for by him. And while the disciples and rest of the world sought status Jesus was interested in helping the lowly. And it continues to be the His church’s task to do the same today.
The Compassionate Heart of Jesus – the Almighty God
· Three features:
- God’s power is demonstrated; Jesus’ compassion unmistakable.
- A preview of the Millennial kingdom where there will be no disease or affliction.
- Jesus reveals to a blind man what he can do for blind souls.
· Those w/little have little to leave, and it’s easier. Those w/much have much to leave, and it’s harder – as hard as it is for the camel to go through the eye of a needle.
· If we’re looking for healing today, we must come to Christ in faith. He doesn’t need to touch us or pray over us; all he needs to heal us is our faith in Him alone.
· People desperate for Jesus don’t let anything or anyone get in their way of him.
· The man not only called Jesus “son of David” but Rabboni (my master). Cf. John 20:16.
· Jesus wants us to express our need to him verbally – to let others see our faith.
· Jesus is moved with compassion on those who have needs and who call on him for aid. He’s not too busy for anyone who would call to him in faith.
· The man’s faith made him well, and his spiritual salvation is evident in his following Jesus.
· Many “faith healers”… none able to make the blind see; the dead rise. Theirs is power of suggestion at best.
· John 3:19-21… “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
· Faith was not a requirement for Jesus’ healings. It his for salvation however.
· God’s grace works through a person’s faith in Christ resulting in good works (Eph. 2:8-10).