"Many people told him to keep quiet, but he was crying out all the more, 'Have mercy on me, Son of David!'" (Mark 10:48).
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Almost no one paid him any attention. He had been blind for as long as anyone could remember. And he had been in the same place, on the road outside of Jericho, sitting, waiting, hoping that someone would see him beg and would be moved with pity or guilt to toss a few pennies his way. Motive didn’t matter, money was money, and in this case, quite literally, beggars could not be choosers.
No one puts “Blind Beggar” on their list of career choices. Outside of being a leper, it was the lowest rank in Jewish society. The blind had to beg unless they had a family that could care for them. This man apparently had no one so day after day he sat there, eating the dust kicked up by the passing parade of people and animals on a hurry to get to Jericho to do business.
One day Jesus showed up, and his life changed forever.
Give Bartimaeus the credit he deserves. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he saw his chance and cried out for mercy. He even called him by his Messianic title, “Son of David.”
He saw his need.
He cried out for help.
He would not be deterred by those who tried to shush him.
He knew what he wanted Jesus to do for him.
He asked for what he needed.
He received his miracle.
He immediately began to follow Jesus.
Repeatedly in the gospel of Mark, Jesus exposes the moral blindness of his disciples. They thought they knew him better than they did. But here is a poor blind beggar who sees better than they do, even though he was blind when he met Jesus. Having received his miracle, he follows Jesus down the road, not knowing that it would lead to a Roman cross.
George Beverly Shea loved to sing a song called Then Jesus Came that begins this way:
One sat alone beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see;
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows,
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.
When Jesus comes the tempter’s pow’r is broken;
When Jesus comes the tears are wiped away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.
Today we begin our Lenten journey called “Faces Around the Cross.” Each day between now and Easter Sunday, we’ll look at the people who met Jesus during his final days. We begin with Bartimaeus because he stands for all of us. Whether we know it or not, we are hopeless and helpless until Jesus passes by.
Have you met him?
Do you know him?
And the greatest question of all: Will you follow him wherever he goes, even when the road leads to a cross? Bartimaeus couldn’t have known what was ahead, but he knew enough to follow the One who had given sight to his blind eyes.
That’s where our journey must begin.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes today and help us to see you clearly. Give us gritty determination to follow wherever you lead. Amen.