Jesus and His disciples are still making their way towards Jerusalem. This will be Jesus’ last visit there, this side of the grave. They have just passed through and are leaving Jericho. Matthew reports that there is a great crowd following Him.
Because of Mark’s account of this story we know one of the blind men was named Bartimaeus. We don’t have a name for the other, so we will call him Cleophus. These two men have been sitting by the roadside together for many years. They have become friends during their struggles. It is not easy making a living by begging, but it is the only thing they can do since losing their sight. On especially lean days, they have been seen sharing what they collect to ensure both eat.
Today the people passing through seem to be coming in waves and trickles. From the sounds of things, there seems to be a really big crowd coming. Cleophus says to Bartimaeus, “Sounds like we will eat tonight!” Bartimaeus replies, “I hope so brother. Yesterday was pretty disappointing.”
As the crowd makes its way down the road, people from the other direction recognize who is in the group and they turn back to join the larger crowd. “Jesus is heading this way.” “Look, there’s Jesus!” “Mother, can we walk with Jesus’ group?”
Bartimaeus and Cleophus recognize Jesus’ name from all the stories they have heard lately. He is said to have amazing healing power. He is also said to be willing to heal any who come to Him. “Brother, do you think He would be willing to heal us”, asks Cleophus. Bartimaeus replies, “If we can get His attention I’m sure He would.”
As the crowd draws closer Bartimaeus and Cleophus begin waving their hands and calling Jesus’ name. “Lord, have mercy on us.” The noise from the crowd is growing as they approach. Cleophus says, “I don’t think He can hear us. We need to shout louder brother and don’t stop shouting until He pays attention!”
Bartimaeus and Cleophus begin calling louder, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David! (verse 30). The people in the crowd closest to our two friends tell them to be quiet. No way! This may be their only chance of getting Jesus’ attention. They have been begging in the dirt so long they are desperate! They raise their voices even louder, calling out as if their lives depended on it. One man leans down into Bartimaeus’ face and tells him, “Silence! Jesus is too busy for the likes of you!” Still Bartimaeus and Cleophus continue shouting, “Please Lord, have mercy on us!”
Jesus stops in the middle of the crowd. He has heard them calling out to Him. It takes a moment for the crowd to realize Jesus has stopped as they bump up against one another trying to get closer to Jesus. Jesus tells His disciples to bring the two men to Him. The crowd hears Jesus’ command and the people closest to the two friends tells them that Jesus is calling for them.
Hands reach down and take hold of our two friends and begin helping them to their feet. They are quickly propelled through the crowd to stand right in front of Jesus. Jesus asks them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (verse 32).
Bartimaeus says, “Please Lord open our eyes and let us see!” Jesus is moved with compassion for our two friends. He reaches His hand out and touched their eyes. Immediately they both see. They are overjoyed! “Thank You Lord!”, says Cleophus. Our two friends embrace one another.
Jesus resumes walking and the crowd starts pressing forward again. Our two friends feel the movement of the crowd and decide then and there that they are going wherever Jesus is going. They leave behind everything they have on the side of the road and follow Jesus. He has saved their lives!
Lord Jesus, You knew how close Your ultimate sacrifice was. If this was me, my mind would be totally focused inward on the tasks ahead. But You continued to give of Yourself. You are so AMAZING! Having vision problems, I can understand the impact losing their sight had on these two men, to a degree. In our society, there are adaptations and accommodations made for people with disabilities. The world in Jesus’ day didn’t have the same supports we do now, and those that couldn’t work were reduced to begging. Begging is still in existence today and just as distasteful for those who are reduced to it. Thank You Lord for restoring, not only sight to our friends in our story, but also their dignity and purpose. Thank You that You have kept me safe in Your hands when I fall very low. I have never been reduced to their station, but that is only because of the support of my family. Thank You Lord for my family! Thank You for placing me in the family You built. Remind me to be as grateful for my blessings as Bartimaeus and Cleophus were for theirs.
Thank You for listening to the heart’s cry of all Your children, then and now. Thank You for responding to their determination and faith. They refused to stop calling until You listened. This is a lesson I need to take to heart. No matter what tells me to be quiet, I need to keep calling out.
Because they refused to quit, You provided more than what they asked for. Not only did You give these two men back their sight but You gave them a purpose and direction. I wonder what became of them after Calvary. Did they become part of Your church? Did they join Your disciples as they waited those agonizing days in between? I hope to meet them someday in Heaven and hear their first-hand experience with You.