Jesus is continuing His march towards Jerusalem. His face is “set like flint” and nothing is going to turn Him from this final appointment. But on the way He fulfills another important task.
We got to hear the “first person” account of this story in the blog from Matthew 20:29-34 titled “Jesus Heals Two Blind Men.” Today we are going to look at this story again and see what God has in it for us from Mark’s telling.
The first thing that I notice is that Mark focuses on only one of our blind beggars and he names him. Mark even goes so far as to give his family designation; essentially his last name. Because Mark does this I believe that Bartimaeus was known to Mark’s readers. Bartimaeus may have become well known because of his healing and life change afterwards, or was a well-known figure before his encounter with Jesus. I tend to lean towards the first supposition, as beggars were everywhere in those days. I wonder if Bartimaeus became part of the church body. What became of his co-recipient of Jesus’ healing that day?
We know that Jesus and His disciples, along with everyone following Him, were headed to Jerusalem for the Passover. I’m curious though how long they stopped over in Jericho. Probably for no more than the night. I’m certain that Jesus’ entrance into Jericho was big news too. Did Bartimaeus hear of this and choose his spot that morning expecting Jesus to pass his way? Was this his usual spot? Was their meeting simply a product of Bartimaeus routinely begging on the only road leaving Jericho towards Jerusalem? Had he been eagerly awaiting the commotion signaling Jesus’ approach? Had he already purposed in his heart to get Jesus’ attention and request healing?
Like Jesus, on His resolute march towards Jerusalem, Bartimaeus was also resolute. He resolved to be heard by Jesus, no matter what it took. As he (and his fellow beggar) heard that Jesus was about to pass by, they got busy. They did EVERYTHING in their power to be heard above the crowd. They HAD to get Jesus’ attention. They couldn’t stand up and walk into the crowd, for fear of being trampled to death, but they could shout at the top of their lungs. And that is just what they did.
The people in the crowd around them did nothing to help them in their efforts. Were they considered by the crowd to be unworthy of Jesus’ attention? So many in need, including other beggars, had received help from Jesus. Why should these two be any less deserving? The crowd did all they could to silence and stop these men from receiving anything from Jesus.
When Jesus heard the cries for help from Bartimaeus, He stopped in His tracks. Jesus was hemmed in on all sides, so He told those around Him to bring Bartimaeus to Him. THEN the crowd was helpful. “Take heart. Get up; He is calling you” (verse 49). Now it was safe for Bartimaeus and friend to enter the street. The crowd was parting and assisting them on their way to Jesus. The crowd was now fully behind seeing these men healed.
When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do for him, Bartimaeus didn’t crouch his request in “if you can” statements. He said straight up what he wanted and Who he knew could do the job. “Rabbi, let me recover my sight” (verse 51).
Matthew tells us that Jesus touched their eyes after they made their request known. Mark’s statement of Jesus’ words in no way disagrees with that. Their faith that a personal encounter with Jesus would result in their healing is what brought them to Jesus to be touched in the first place. They knew Jesus was able to heal them if they could only get to Him. Once there, the rest was gravy.
Did Bartimaeus and his fellow beggar follow Jesus because He healed them or were they already moved by His message and the healing simply allowed them to opportunity to follow Him? I have a feeling that this is a 50/50 answer. Because Bartimaeus is known to Mark’s readers, he accepted Jesus’ message along with His healing. The other beggar being unknown by name, suggests that he departed when things got tough. He got his healing and was gone.
Father God, my husband prays MANY times for You to remove his pain. I desire this same thing but have come to believe that immediate healing is not the way You are addressing this for him. Am I standing in the way of his miracle, like the people who were trying to shut Bartimaeus up were? I don’t dissuade him from praying for his healing, but when he asks me why You are not answering, I don’t tell him to call louder. I remind him of Paul and his “thorn in the flesh” instead. I talk about how You meet our needs through doctors too. Am I telling him to be quiet by what I’m saying? If You want to heal him with Your touch, I DON’T want to stand in the way or hold him back. I want to be the one grabbing his hand saying, “He is calling you! Get up!” Help me be the encouragement he needs to meet whatever path You choose to work through. Give me wisdom in how to answer his questions. You know this is a difficult area for me too. I KNOW You do still heal and do miracles. Bartimaeus knew Jesus would do one for him, if he could just get Jesus’ attention. I don’t have the faith of Bartimaeus. I KNOW Jesus hears me and I have His attention in other parts of my life. I honestly admit my faith failures in this area though. Lord, help my unbelief! Please! Don’t let my unbelief stand in the way of my husband’s faith.
I want to share a good read on this story from another source with you. It is from my favorite answer site: Got Questions.org